Jesus’ mission carries on in the life of a student beyond graduation. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we’re catching up with some of our alumni and celebrating how they are living lives on mission as they continue to follow Jesus.
Walking through rows of trees, you can see Alex’s love for plants and nature. He bends down and shares about where each tree and plant has come from, each having their own story. Working at his family’s nursery as a third generation grower, he oversees propagation of native trees and shrubs to Ontario, and one day plans to follow in his father’s footsteps of overseeing the entire nursery operations alongside his brother.
What’s both simple and remarkable about Alex is how he weaves his love for trees and horticulture together with his faith and his personal sense of mission.
I get to serve God working with something that I love: trees and shrubs. It was through Power to Change that God opened my eyes to see that I wanted my career to have clear ways of serving him.Alex
Studying horticulture at the University of Guelph, Alex got to understand more about his own family business and why they do what they do. By his second year, he knew he wanted to work at the nursery long-term.
We’re in the best industry I think. We’re working with God’s design, with wild seeds that haven’t been altered in any way. We get to go into the forest and collect seeds and figure out how God designed them to unlock what each one needs in order to germinate. There’s so much beauty in the plant world.Alex
Deciding to work at his family’s nursery and carry on the family business came naturally as Alex reflected on the leadership of his father. This grounded Alex in his own faith and love for evangelism. Much of his ministry foundations were laid out through his dad leading their company devotions at the nursery every morning at 7a.m. Making Christ the centre of the company in an obvious way and reaching out to the staff through spiritual conversations in working side by side has brought Alex a lot of joy and purpose.
Those roots, mixed with his involvement with the Power to Change faith community on his campus, widened Alex’s vision for the world. He started dreaming about how he could combine his love for trees with ministering to people, helping them grow closer to God. This moved him to consider what it could look like to help people overseas farm and develop agriculturally.
But Alex realized that God could use him where he was already planted. In the very location in which his faith was rooted it could blossom and thrive, casting out seeds over a lifetime of faithful living.
His family nursery.
At first I didn’t see working at a family farm as a huge ministry opportunity, but through my dad’s leadership of the company and his love for the Lord it really showed me how God was at work here. People who worked here were hearing about the gospel, including my now sister-in-law who came to Christ, and that was inspiring. I realized that I can serve God even at the family nursery.Alex
I wish I could go back to the unique opportunities for ministry that are on campus where people are more willing to talk and they have the time and are open minded. I wish I had taken more advantage of that openness among my friends and classmates.Alex
Alex has learned from his dad the value of trusting God with the results of the company while still having to balance the business side of costs and margins. Knowing that God is in charge of the business frees Alex from unhealthy pressures to perform and produce.
If God wanted to close the doors it means he would have greater things in store. Seeing my dad’s example, how he’s open and prayerful and not bent on efficiency, he puts relationship first and gives God the glory, leaving the results in God’s hands.Alex
Their focus on people has allowed Alex and his family to reach out to the Karen people group, refugees and immigrants from Burma who have settled in the Hamilton area. The Karen people are a largely Christian community, as the gospel reached their nation in the mid-1800s.
Alex and his family were able to build strong relationships with them in partnering to work together on their nursery – and have even invested spiritually. A Bible study for primarily Karen youth started up in the city core of Hamilton, and Alex was able to get involved and help lead portions of their informal studies.
The relationships that have come out of investing in the Karen people have been an immense blessing to my family as our kids get to know one another.Alex
God keeps teaching me that plants and business, that’s temporal. People are eternal. Relationships are first and sometimes you can get so wrapped up in being production minded that it steals your focus from eternal opportunities that are in front of you. I’m realizing that God has me here for this reason.Alex
Alex has discovered the joy of faithfully following Jesus by intertwining faith, family, and mission. With an eternal perspective in mind, Alex is planting seeds of hope both spiritually and with his family’s nursery.