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Can we connect you to the story of “Why did MDC 501(c)(3) choose the coconut tree?”

 

We hear this question quite often from other ministry leaders, and some curious Christians, “Why did MDC501(c)(3) choose a coconut tree?” Interestingly enough there are specific reasons for this and we would love to share the story with you so that you connect to the core essence of who we are as a ministry. You will remember that our ministry began in Latin America where coconut trees are very visible and very common in the coast regions. It was supernaturally natural for us to come to admire the qualities and the history of coconut and palm trees as we worked in that region of the world. As we have worked globally over the years we have come to learn more and more about coconut and palm trees and all of it reinforces the choice that was made years ago to have the coconut tree become our “mascot.”

Coconut trees live in very hard places and they thrive despite the hardships offered by their locations. Most coconut trees grow in areas that are prone to hurricanes, or cyclones yet they remain most often steady in the face of storms. During Hurricane Mitch, our Journey Missions Camp was located on the north east coast of Honduras near the town of Trujillo and it was the site of where Hurricane Mitch came ashore as a Category 5 storm that killed over 6,500 people and destroyed lives, crops, homes and livelihoods.

Several key stories emerged in the midst of the Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction efforts that MDC led for many years in Honduras. There was a story of a group of young boys who were swept away by raging river waters and they ended up on a far away isolated beach out towards the Mosquito Coast. As they marched along the beach into the rising sun headed East to try to get back home, they came across coconuts, an abundance of coconuts. It was this sweet juice of the coconut tree and the meat of the coconuts that helped the boys remain nourished enough to make it back home to their villages. Even in the midst of a disaster the coconut tree became a symbol of hope, life, survival and overcoming the odds.

Another story emerged about a lady who was swept away by raging inland flooding as the storm surge rushed inland and then raged back out to sea carrying with it dead animals, human bodies, debris and muddy waters. This lady managed to take hold of a coconut tree that was floating by and she climbed up on it as it was swept far out into the Caribbean Sea. Dazed and in despair she began to use the branches and leaves of the coconut tree to form a small shelter and sleeping area as she floated along. Soon she was thirsty, but she could not drink the sea water. She gathered the coconuts from her tree and coconuts that floated by and she began to drink the sweet coco water from the coconuts and she ate the sweet tasting coco meat. She used the shells of the coconuts to carve notes into begging for someone to save her. One by one she would toss the engraved coconut shells into the water praying that someone would find one of the shells, read it and send help. Days and days passed and no rescue came, but she was able to cling to life and hope through the sure knowledge that she had ample sweet coconut water and meat to last for many more days.

Several days later the lady was spotted by rescuers as she was sleeping on her coconut tree and she was rescued and saved. The coconut tree is a symbol of hope, life, resistance, thriving in hard places, overcoming the odds, producing something sweet from bitter circumstances, and it symbolizes hope, rescue, saving grace and amble supply of sweet waters and a supply of food. Coconut trees come in two main varieties and are found globally in hard places. The coconut trees are mainly of the Asian and African varieties, but due to global trading by early travelers and traders the coconut tree made it’s way to the Americas where it flourishes in tropical regions. In Honduras on the North Coast there is a group of indigenous people known as the Garifuna. They are the offspring of Africans who were being brought to the Americas as slaves, but were left off the coast of Honduras, where they thrive today. They make sweet treats from the coconut trees and they make a special bread called Kasava from the roots of a local plant.

The story is told about how in the USA the coastlines of Florida used to not have coconut or palm trees prior to early traders who traded heavily in coconuts and palm oils. There is a story of an ill fated ship hundreds of years ago that was traveling from Cuba along the Florida coast. The cargo onboard was coconuts and palm nuts. The ship sank offshore and all of the coconuts and palm nuts washed ashore and were gathered by locals. Not being familiar with the nuts locals buried, or planted them to see what would happen next. The coconuts and palms exploded forth and today one of the wealthiest zip codes and the site of the Summer White House of President Trump is located in a place named, “Palm Beach” in “Palm Beach County.” You guessed it! The coconuts and palms not only survived, but they flourished in the midst of a tragedy. They added value and for hundreds of years they have drawn people to the local regions to enjoy their splendor.

These are some of the reasons that MDC501(c)(3) choose the coconut tree as our mascot. The coconut tree symbolizes a ministry that is not just regional, but now global. It symbolizes the sweet fruit that arises from the world’s hardest places. It shows us that we can survive and thrive in Christ, no matter how big the storms of life are — the presence of Christ in us is greater! The coconut tree grows it’s roots downward and deep so that it can rise tall and majestic. The coconut tree is flexible, bending with the winds, just enough to not snap off. It’s a story of majestic hope in dire circumstances. This is the kind of ministry that MDC is. We are hope for those living and serving Jesus Christ in the world’s hardest places.

Maybe next time you see our logo you will smile and say, “Ah, now I get it!” And just maybe the very next time you are near coconut trees you will be blessed to drink the sweet coco waters that bring refreshing to weary souls. Even so Jesus is the Tree of Life, the Water of Life, that satisfies the soul and brings hope, nourishment, rescue, redemption and life to the lost and those swept away or swept aside by the storms and trials of this life. God bless you and may the coconut and the palm tree be a source of inspiration unto spiritual things for you, as it is for us at MDC501(c)(3).

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