As any gardener knows, there are times when you plant a seed and wonder if it will ever grow and reproduce, but no gardener ever quits planting seeds. Jesus tells the parable of a seed planter who faced the reality that not all seeds grow at the same rate, and may not even grow at all, but Jesus never says anything about the sower except that he continued to sow. He is not judged by the number of seeds which grow, he is simply pictured as a faithful seed planter.
Around the world, Muslims are beginning to turn to God in new ways as they are seeing Isa (Jesus) as not just another prophet, but as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. The conversions are coming in a variety of ways, including seeing Isa in dreams. While teaching in a Central Asian country last year, a student told the story of a Muslim girl dreaming of Isa and upon waking sought out a Christian to ask about her dream. Over time she accepted Christ, much to the displeasure of her family, but stayed the course. Eventually her family also came to believe in Isa as well because she planted seeds of faith.
Just recently we were in Indonesia and heard a sermon which showed the 2013 statistics of the number of Christians in Indonesia, which is relatively small. In particular that message pointed out Aceh province as having less than .02% believers. Aceh is under Shari’a Law (Muslim) and evangelism by Christians is forbidden. However, humanitarian aid in microfinance and education are acceptable, thus people from Southland are working in these areas, living out their faith in Jesus among the people of Meulaboh and surrounding area. Seed planting; that’s what we’re doing there. We were told the word love is not used among the people there, but in the last two years we have both expressed love for the people, and they have used the word back to us. Our faithful witness is expressed in action, with few words, yet we are beginning to see the sprouts beginning to push the soil upward. How long before there will be acceptance of Isa as Lord? We may not live to see that happen, but we are planting seeds, expecting God to bring growth in his timing.
There are times when we hear of people sharing their faith with others who are not yet believers and those people accepting their testimony and making a profession of faith in a relatively short time, and we wonder if we are doing the right thing in our approach to evangelism by planting seeds in a place like Indonesia. Then we reread the story of the sower and we recommit ourselves to the task of seed planting, believing God will bring growth in his time.
So where are you planting seeds? Among people who will readily accept and you will see immediate sprouts? Or are you planting where the seeds may be slow growing? Jesus’ command is to plant seeds, and it is up to us to faithfully plant. Ours is not to produce growth, but to faithfully plant.