Monday, May 31, 2010

Behind A Garden Wall: Nearer God's Heart

"One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."

That sentence by Dorothy Frances Gurney from her poem, God's Garden, surely touches the hearts of many who stop to reflect and pray in Guido Gardens.  Hidden from traffic, the verdant, well-kept oasis offers a quiet place to the weary soul.

Michael Guido (1915-2009), a passionate ordained evangelist with a flair for capturing audiences (a dance-band leader by age 19), began his mass-media ministry, The Sower, in 1958 from a mobile radio studio.  Soon to follow was his Sowing and Reaping newspaper column.  In 1961, he and his wonderful wife, Audrey, settled in Metter, GA (population about 2360 at the time), where they built a radio studio on land that was offered to them on the outskirts of town.  The ministry eventually expanded to television.

Guido understood the modern mind, so he developed short, heart-felt messages for broadcast and print that used humor, brevity and truth to convey true Christianity.  Those brief messages he called "seeds."  The seeds sprouted.  The ministry grew to three daily radio broadcasts, more than 3,500 program releases each week, some of which had international exposure.  The Guidos were the first to produce a one-minute inspirational program for television, and now A Seed for the Garden of Your Heart is distributed to more than 1,500 stations.  That was accomplished with a staff of about a dozen volunteers.  Ultimately, Guido attributed it to "The Lord."

Guido Gardens was dedicated in 1976.  A prayer chapel was added to the garden in 1984.  Dr. and Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale participated in the chapel dedication.

Since 1991, Guido Gardens has been decorated during the Advent season with thousands of lights.  These "Nights Of Lights", like the garden, are free and open to the public.

In 2003, the Biblical Gardens section was added.  It features a "replica" of Christ's Empty Tomb and Joseph's Carpenter Shop.

Visitors will enjoy the flowers, "sparkling waterfalls, shimmering fountains, babbling brooks, lovely gazebos, inspiring music", inspirational plaques, sculptures and, of course, the chapel which is always open for prayer.  Every guest will be refreshed.

When we visited Guido Gardens during Holy Week, I expected to find it full of guests.  It was not.  On the one hand, I was a bit surprised that it was not heavily visited, but on the other, we enjoyed the beauty undisturbed.

Guido Gardens is located at 600 N. Lewis St., Metter, GA on the grounds of the Guido Evangelistic Association.  When you see the sign, stop in for a while, rest and enjoy what grows behind the garden wall.

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