It was the summer of 2004. Our founders, Danny and Courtney Rohrdanz, were given the incredible opportunity of spending the summer working as camp counselors in the Florida Keys. This summer camp was special because it was not only located in the heart of the Florida Keys but because it was specifically designed to host a Vacation Bible School for the children of migrant workers living in Florida City. Every week a busload of wide-eyed beautiful Hispanic children got dropped off at The First Baptist Church of Islamorada. They were greeted by a bunch of rowdy high school and college kids who couldn’t wait to let these children know much they were loved. Many of the kids didn’t speak English, but it didn’t seem to matter much. Love really is a universal language.
The other thing that took Danny and Courtney by complete surprise was that 99% of these little ones had never been to the beach before. They had literally never set eyes on the beautiful blue ocean that surrounds the southernmost part of our state even though the majority of them lived just a speedy 30-minute drive from paradise. This was mind-boggling for two Florida kids who grew up on the shores of one of the best surf towns in America. It was the easiest decision ever to make room in the Vacation Bible School curriculum for a beach day. On the very last day of each session, the children were given the gift of a day at Anne’s Beach.
Anne’s Beach was chosen because it offered little or no wave action and was the perfect spot for wading out into the waters and exploring the beauty the beach has to offer. It was also the perfect spot to end the week because God speaks through creation in ways that point to His intelligent design and His redemptive story. You see the beach was flanked with red mangrove trees that were already sharing His story through their yellow leaves. They provided the perfect metaphor to help these children understand the gospel. All we had to do was pick a leaf off the tree and dive right into the greatest story ever told.
The story of the yellow leaf begins at creation – more specifically with the way the mangrove tree was created. You see, God deliberately designed these trees for their saltwater environment. Each was made to rid themselves of the salt in their own unique way. Because if the salt infiltrates the entire tree, then it will die. The black and white mangrove have specific mechanisms that are used to excrete the salt out of the tree, but the red mangrove doesn’t.
When gazing upon a red mangrove, you will notice yellow leaves are scattered throughout. This happens because all the salt is forced into “sacrificial leaves”. These leaves take the salt of the entire tree upon themselves. Then, they turn yellow, die and fall off (taking the salt with them) so that the rest of the tree can live.
God has created the red mangrove to be a perfect representation of the gospel – His good news for all who will believe. 1 John 2:2 says, “He is the One who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself and brought us into fellowship with God, and He is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but the all the world’s.”
Jesus was our yellow leaf. He took all of our sin, our “salt” upon Himself so that we could truly live in relationship with him and with others.
It was because of Jesus’s sacrifice that we have now found life. It drives all that we do — especially our work. Naming our company after this incredible picture of sacrifice and restoration is a daily reminder that we are called to sacrificially serve others while bringing something new to life. Our prayer is that our work will outlast us and that the relationships formed in the life of Yellow Leaf Marketing would be marked by genuine love and care — like the way Jesus loves and cares for each of us.
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