From planting apples to planting a church
A part-time orchardist, part-time pastor and his wife know what it takes to get things growing
Todd Hall is an orchardist from Shepparton, Victoria, who suffered a severe back injury in 2004 and was left bedridden.
That painful phase of his life put him on a new trajectory, away from working with his brothers growing Red Delicious apples for supply to supermarkets across Australia.
John Piper’s talks led him on a “real intense, personal walk with Christ.”
During that time, Todd discovered the podcasts and sermons of American minister John Piper. Todd says Piper’s talks led him on a “real intense, personal walk with Christ”.
When he recovered from his back injury, Todd told his wife Laurel he wanted to plant a church in Shepparton (which is two hours north of Melbourne).
“I knew something was coming,” Laurel said of Todd’s decision, “but I probably thought we’d end up being missionaries.
“As Todd made the suggestion, I could see there was a need in our community.”
After a few years of study at a Bible College, Todd planted Exchange Church in 2011. To help fund their new ministry, Todd reduced his work load in the orchard and became a part-time orchardist, part-time pastor.
“It’s about seeing someone’s mother get saved, or someone’s friend get saved.” – Laurel Hall
He gets up early and tends to the apple trees each day, and then in the afternoon tends to the needs of their church, which meets at the local community centre.
The world of apple trees and churches are not as far apart as they might seem. Todd says that in the same way it takes time to “nurture, care for and grow” an apple tree, it takes patience to plant a church, and you need to “let God move the way he does” and trust that “Jesus will build the church.”
For Laurel, the greatest joy has been seeing the impact their church has had in Shepparton: “It’s about seeing someone’s mother get saved, or someone’s friend get saved. That’s what it’s all about, seeing the Kingdom grow.”