For much of his life, Luciano Hernández has faced the constant threat of financial insecurity. Saving and planning for the future of his family—his wife Irma and five children—seemed out of reach. But in recent years, Luciano has found hope and opportunity in his community of Coatecas Altas in Oaxaca, a southern state in Mexico.

He says “My life has changed a lot. I started working at age 12. When I got married and had children, I emigrated to find work so that I could feed them. I came back to get my wife and children and take them away from Coatecas with me, but God had another plan.”

Luciano had an unproductive plot of land that he inherited from his grandfather. His plan was to emigrate with his family but felt God was calling him to stay in Coatecas. So he trusted God. “Somehow we had to eat. God is faithful.”

When Plant With Purpose arrived in Coatecas, Luciano saw another way out of his struggle. He enthusiastically adopted the new sustainable agriculture techniques they taught him. He started by simply planting corn and using homemade compost. That year, his land, once barren, yielded an impressive corn crop. Luciano had so much corn he was able to share it with the local church. Since then, Luciano has invested in several other crops to sell at market. Luciano’s oldest son is still in the United States working. Luciano says “When I talk to him, I tell him to stop working in someone else’s field and to come home and work his own field.” Luciano says that as a community Coatecas is making great changes in mindset. “We recognize that before, it was easier to cut a tree than to grow it, it was easier to destroy than to plant, but now we know that reforestation work is very important. Now we have learned to take care of what God gave us.”

The local savings group has made it possible for families in Coatecas like Luciano’s to become entrepreneurs. Luciano’s wife has started a small business preparing food at their children’s school. Families across Coatecas are learning to save and to invest in the future. Luciano has become pastor of the local church. In Plant With Purpose’s spiritual leadership trainings, Luciano has found dignity and purpose and says, “I now understand that I must value myself. I have much to give and much to offer.” Luciano is determined to make sure that the local church is a platform for change. “As a church we have the vision that we can build for the future.” As a church they meet regularly now to pick up trash in the community. When asked why they are picking up trash, the church members respond “We do it out of love for our God.”

Now Luciano splits his time between his fields and discipling the local community. At times he is pouring more time into the local church in Coatecas than he does investing in his own farm. Luciano says “While I am occupied in the things of God, He takes care of my plants.”

Luciano has so many plans for the future. He prays that each  family in his community will plant trees and have their own vegetable garden. He also wants to see more of the community become reforested. He continues to work alongside his church members and neighbors to make Coatecas an even more vibrant and God-serving community.

You can invest in the lives of people like Luciano. St. Luke’s 2018 Easter Offering will support Plant With Purpose, a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect.