‘Green Thumb’ Social Media Channel Inspires Thousands through Gardening

Initiative by pastoral couple in the Philippines is helping cultivate a digital faith journey.

Alvianus Saleppang and Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division
‘Green Thumb’ Social Media Channel Inspires Thousands through Gardening
Olifia Ritus recently organized a fellowship event for the followers of her “Flower Mix Manado” YouTube channel, where attendees enjoyed heartfelt fellowship, ate delicious meals, participated in enlightening planting seminars, and explored Adventist literature. [Photo: Southern Asia-Pacific Division]

Seventh-day Adventist pastor Ritus Keni and his family had to deal with a severe sense of isolation due to the strict lockdown measures at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. Although they were fortunate enough to have avoided the direct threat of the disease, the pervasive feeling of seclusion weighed heavily on their hearts, separating them from the comforting presence of friends and loved ones.

Despite the confinement of lockdown, Ritus sought solace in his bicycle rides, carving out precious moments of freedom amidst the uncertainty. The exhilaration of pedaling through the streets provided him with a much-needed release, allowing him to rejuvenate both his body and mind as he traversed the empty roads until the afternoon sun began to wane. However, these outings stirred worry and unrest in his wife, Olifia, who harbored fears of her husband falling ill during his excursions outside the safety of their home.

Sensitive to his wife’s concerns, Ritus recognized the importance of maintaining his physical well-being through regular exercise, even as he empathized with Olifia’s desire for his safety. It was on one such day, as he observed Olifia tending to their small garden with meticulous care, that inspiration struck. Proposing the idea of starting a YouTube channel centered around her passion for gardening, Ritus saw an opportunity for Olifia to channel her energy and creativity into a new venture.

Olifia was initially hesitant due to her lack of experience in video editing and content creation, but Ritus’s unwavering support and dedication to assisting her gave her confidence. With Ritus taking on the role of video editor, Olifia eagerly embraced the opportunity to share her knowledge and love for gardening with the world through her newly christened channel, “Flower Mix Manado.”

In the midst of adversity, Ritus and Olifia’s collaborative effort serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, showcasing how moments of hardship can inspire innovation and strengthen bonds within the family unit. Through their shared passion and determination, they found a way to navigate the challenges of lockdown while nurturing their individual interests and talents.

Olifia initially felt overburdened with the task of deciding what content to produce and how her community would view her. However, with each passing day, she grew more comfortable in her newfound niche. Her videos showcased the planting of a diverse array of plants and flowers, ranging from vibrant roses to lush succulents, captivating the attention of mothers and like-minded individuals alike. Within just one year, Olifia’s following surpassed 2,000 loyal supporters. As time passed, the channel’s popularity soared, amassing an astonishing 428,000 subscribers to date, a development that left the family pleasantly surprised and motivated to continue their journey.

This unexpected surge in followers brought about a wealth of opportunities for the family, proving to be a lifeline during the financial strains of the pandemic. More significantly, it provided Olifia with a platform to forge meaningful connections and share her lifestyle and beliefs with a broader audience.

In a recent milestone, Olifia and her family orchestrated a fellowship event for their YouTube followers. They organized a captivating Flower Festival, where attendees enjoyed heartfelt fellowship, indulged in delicious meals, participated in enlightening planting seminars, and were offered the opportunity to explore Adventist literature. The gathering served as a testament to the power of community and shared passions, fostering bonds that transcended virtual boundaries.

Olifia is determined to continue her online venture, aiming to integrate her Adventist faith into her digital presence. What started as a simple passion for planting flowers has transformed into a platform for sharing the love of Jesus with others. Recognizing the digital space as an effective tool for spreading messages of hope and healing, Olifia sees her online presence as an opportunity to reach those in need of encouragement.

In leveraging the digital landscape, Olifia aims to embody her faith through her content, offering inspiration and guidance to those navigating the online world. Through her videos and interactions, she seeks to illuminate the path for others to discover the transformative power of Christ’s love. As she continues this journey, Olifia remains committed to using her online platform to share the message of hope and faith with a broader audience.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Alvianus Saleppang and Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division