A local man was inspired to create a mission.
There are many oak trees along West Granada Boulevard. But there’s one very special tree, the Offering Acts of Kindness ministry tree.
Located at Church of the Holy Child, 1225 W. Granada Blvd., its story goes back more than 20 years, and it was saved recently from development.
In the early 1990s, church member Jim Clements went to a weekend course in Christianity, called a Cursillo, and he was on top of the world.
“I felt so close to God,” he said.
But as time went by, he lost the feeling, and was searching for a way to get it back.
One day, he stopped and helped a person on State Road 40 who had a flat tire. As he walked back to his car, he had the feeling back. He realized to get closer to God, he had to get closer to others.
For the only time in his life, he said, he heard God speak to him, telling him to tell the church what he had learned. So, he started studying the Bible for inspiration. He found many references to trees: The tree of knowledge of good and evil; the cedars of Lebanon.
He thought of the words, Offering Acts of Kindness, and it all came together: an oak tree.
So he bought an oak tree in 1999, small enough to fit into the bed of his pickup truck, and planted it at the church, where it stands today, near the road.
It serves as a reminder to offer acts of kindness.
“We go about the business of our lives. We get consumed with it and it’s like we have blinders on. The tree reminds us to do good work.”
REV. STEVE PESSAH, Church of the Holy Child
The Bible says to “spur one another to love and good deeds,” Clements said. “We were created to do good works.”
In the OAK ministry, a person writes a recent good deed on a piece of paper and drops it unsigned in a collection box in the church. This practice helps make doing good deeds a habit. When the box is full, Clements burns the papers and places the ashes around the tree. It’s anonymous, but God knows what the person did.
Deeds can be as simple as taking a casserole to someone who is sick, visiting someone in the hospital, or even returning a grocery cart to the store.
“It can be big or small,” Pessah said. “We should be happy to do these things. It’s part of being a Christian.”
He said he loves the simplicity of it, calling it a simple way to practice Christianity.
Clements, a retired Ormond Beach firefighter, has written a book on the mission, called “Climbing the Tree of Live; the OAK Ministry.” He can be contacted at the church.
A NEW DAY FOR THE TREE AND THE MISSION
The practice of dropping slips of paper into an offering box has fallen off in recent years, but Pessah plans to bring it back to the church. He and Clements were recently reminded of the mission, after taking steps to save the tree.
The next-door landowner approached the church, asking to purchase a small parcel of their land so they would have enough room to build on their property. An agreement was made, but the church made sure the parcel does not include the tree.
“It’s part of our history,” Pessah said. “We were adamant about saving the tree.”
The land sale will not affect the church, in fact, with the woods being gone, the church will have more visibility from the road.
Pessah is looking at the season of Lent as a time to reintroduce the OAK ministry to the congregation. During Lent, you give up things, but also may take things on, such as the habit of doing acts of kindness, he said.
Rev. Pessah says the tree helps him be more intentional in acts of kindness.
“We go about the business of our lives. We get consumed with it and it’s like we have blinders on,” he said. The tree reminds us to do good work.”