Ruined Peppers and Ruined People
The summer of 2020 was a hellish time for Minnesotans. Race riots in Minneapolis and innumerable accusations of racism against people of the state left everyone shaken. But by August, the difficult summer wasn’t quite over for farmers in Minnesota. Just a few days before they were to harvest their pepper crop, the state was hammered with a severe hailstorm. This devastated more than 40% of all the pepper harvest. Since so many farms continually live on the edge, between survival and success, this threatened to drive many farms to foreclosure.
One of the hardest hit farms was the large Sogn Valley Farm in Cannon Falls. Every last pepper was damaged. Everything was scratched, punctured, or blasted open by the hail. It was a total loss.
That’s when one of Sogn Valley’s clients stepped in to help. It was Craig Kaiser of Cry Baby Craig’s Hot Sauce Company. He told Dana Jokela – owner of Sogn Valley Farm – “Don’t despair. Anything that you would otherwise be plowing into the soil, composting, or losing out on totally, send it over to me. We’ll make a hot sauce out of it. It will be a one-time, limited release thing.”
Craig said he had no idea what to call the special sauce, nor what it would even taste like. He could only guarantee that it would taste good, since he is also a world class chef. Craig also promised to donate all proceeds from the sale of the sauce to the Minnesota farmers affected by the hail.
Time was of the essence, of course, since the battered peppers had to be harvested before they spoiled. Farmers acted swiftly and all was accomplished within a day or so.
Now, fast forward to March 2021. That special sauce is now available, though exclusively at Lunds & Byerlys, an upscale supermarket chain in Minneapolis. And it’s flying off the shelves.
Craig Kaiser appropriately named the sauce, “Cry Baby Craig’s Hail Fire.” And, as the label states, “100% of sales of this sauce go to Minnesota Farmers affected by the hail storms of 2020.”
Craig Kaiser received loads of praise from Minnesota farmers for his generous act. But he explained, “This wasn’t just a nice gesture. I was looking at the pain those families are dealing with, knowing that you woke up one morning and lost everything and you may not have another season to grow.” Indeed, the farmers had invested six months of manpower and money into their pepper crop. All would have been lost if not for Craig Kaiser’s gracious act. According to Craig, he anticipates that the Sogn Valley Farm will receive at least $40,000 from this venture.
Let’s pray that God continues to raise up more of such businessmen and businesswomen as Craig Kaiser. Let’s pray that God will raise up such leaders in business and finance who are honest, fair, and compassionate with their customers, clientele, and employees.
But this is not only a story of compassion and goodness between entrepreneurs. It’s also a story of redemption. Craig Kaiser took what farmers were sending to the compost pile and made a product that was tasty, desirable, and popular among customers. He took what was ruined and made something good and great from it.
Doesn’t God do the same with human beings? Doesn’t He do the same, even with His children who become broken in the process of God’s sanctifying work in their lives? Remember that all twelve apostles fell away from the Lord at the hour Jesus needed them most (Mark 14:27-31). One of the Twelve repeatedly denied knowing the Lord. One even betrayed Him.
But which of these disciples did Jesus fire and send packing? Which of them did He dismiss for reasons of moral failure? None of them. In reality, Jesus never fired any of His servants, regardless of their brokenness and lack of progress. Not even Judas was fired. It was Judas himself who closed the door to restoration by committing suicide. No matter how broken or shattered we become, God’s still got a bright future and a splendid plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
No child or servant of God should ever lose hope for their own redemption and salvation. For God has already invested far too much into us to ever toss us on the compost pile. As Paul the apostle wrote, God has poured out His love into us, even the blood of His own Son into our salvation (Romans 5:6-10). So be of good cheer. Jesus will never forsake the work of His hands. He’ll perfect the good work He began in you (1 Corinthians 1:7-8; Philippians 1:6).
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, so often the greatest problem life hands me is my own twisted and corrupted self. But though my salvation is impossible for me to achieve, with You, O God, nothing is impossible (Mark 10:26-27). Nothing pleases You more than saving, sanctifying, and glorifying sinners (Luke 15:7, Matthew 18:14; Jude 24-25). Therefore, Father, I commit myself to You and trust You to perfect the good work You began in me. Whenever I lose hope for myself, turn my eyes to Your holy Son Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. In His holy name, I ask this. Amen.
(Information from: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/08/11/after-hail-destroys-crops-cry-baby-craigs-to-use-damaged-peppers-in-limited-release-hot-sauce/; https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/03/16/Hail-Fire-hot-sauce-Sogn-Farm-peppers-destroyed-hailstorm/3121615918233/)