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Planting, Watering, Patience, and Faith

Discussion in 'Missions, Evangelism & Witnessing' started by JosephZ, May 15, 2019.

  1. JosephZ

    JosephZ Well-Known Member

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)

    This thread is in response to some recent dialog between myself and another member of the forum during a discussion about Muslims and Islam.

    Here is a quote from the post that inspired me to create this thread:

    "Back when I attended a Pentecostal church I learned that they had sent many missionaries to Iran. I scratched my head and asked if they had ever lost any missionaries. They said they lost many missionaries in Iran. I thought it was a waste of life to send their people to such a quick death. There ain't nobody gonna change the Muslim world through missionaries. Becoming more energy independent and building up our military is the best way to witness Christ to them. They need to see that Islam is what is holding them captive and they cannot see this when we are giving them millions of dollars and missionaries to kill.

    So, sadly, I have a bad opinion of missionaries who go to these Islamic countries and accomplish nothing. I'm a man who wants to accomplish something with the time God has given me. "

    I was taken back a bit by this member's suggestion that becoming energy dependent and building up our military is the best way to witness to Muslims, as I'm sure many others would be also, but I'm going to be addressing their disappointment and the expectations of immediate and bountiful results from missionaries in the field in this thread; especially since I'm a missionary myself and have been in the field full time for more than seven years working in Muslim communities.

    I too have been disappointed and have become frustrated at times. Unfortunately death is a common occurrence in the communities I work in and it's heartbreaking seeing so many of the people I love dying without Christ; but I just keep reminding myself that our expectations and desires don't always match up with God's will.

    In sharing the gospel our job is to plant and water seeds. It's God’s job to make things grow.

    It's the Holy Spirit that's doing the work of reaching the unbeliever, not us. We are simply the ones who share the gospel. In many cases the results may seem disappointing, but we should not be discouraged. God has not called us to convert people, but to share the gospel. No one expects a seed to produce a harvest the same day that seed is planted, so in the same way, we should not expect to see immediate fruit from our evangelizing. There are times when the gospel seems to bear fruit immediately; however, if we knew all the the details, we might learn that the fruit of the gospel has been growing in that individual's life over a long period of time. Maybe you or I were not the one that initially planted the seed; that may have been someone who came long before us. We may have only been the ones to water that seed.

    I would like to share the following story. It's a wonderful and encouraging example of how God is always working behind the scenes.

    In 1912, medical missionary Dr. William Leslie went to live and minister to tribal people in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After 17 years he returned to the U.S. a discouraged man – believing he failed to make an impact for Christ. He died nine years after his return.

    But in 2010, a team led by Eric Ramsey with Tom Cox World Ministries made a shocking and sensational discovery. They found a network of reproducing churches hidden like glittering diamonds in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where Dr. Leslie was stationed.

    With the help of a Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, Ramsey and his team flew east from Kinshasa to Vanga, a two and a half hour flight in a Cessna Caravan. After they reached Vanga, they hiked a mile to the Kwilu River and used dugout canoes to cross the half-mile-wide expanse. Then they hiked with backpacks another 10 miles into the jungle before they reached the first village of the Yansi people.

    Based on his previous research, Ramsey thought the Yansi in this remote area might have some exposure to the name of Jesus, but no real understanding of who He is. They were unprepared for their remarkable find.

    “When we got in there, we found a network of reproducing churches throughout the jungle,” Ramsey reports. “Each village had its own gospel choir, although they wouldn’t call it that,” he notes. “They wrote their own songs and would have sing-offs from village to village.”

    They found a church in each of the eight villages they visited scattered across 34 miles. Ramsey and his team even found a 1000-seat stone “cathedral” in one of the villages. He learned that this church got so crowded in the 1980s – with many walking miles to attend — that a church planting movement began in the surrounding villages.

    “There is no Bible in the Yansi language,” Ramsey says. “They used a French Bible, so those who taught had to be fluent in French.”

    Apparently, Dr. Leslie crossed the Kwilu River once a year from Vanga and spent a month traveling through the jungle, carried by servants in a sedan chair.

    “He would teach the Bible, taught the tribal children how to read and write, talked about the importance of education, and told Bible stories,” Ramsey notes. Dr. Leslie started the first organized educational system in these villages, Ramsey learned.

    It took some digging for Ramsey to uncover Leslie’s identity. “The tribal people only knew him by one name and I didn’t know if that was a first or last name. They knew he was a Baptist and he was based in that one city and they knew the years.”

    When Ramsey returned home he did some additional investigation and discovered Dr. Leslie was affiliated with the American Baptist Missionary Union. The American Baptist Missionary Union was founded in 1814 by Adoniram Judson, who led a pioneering work in Burma.

    Born in Ontario, Canada, William H. Leslie followed his intended profession as a pharmacist until his conversion

    in 1888. He moved to the Chicago area, where God began to grip his heart with the desire to become a medical missionary.

    Dr. Leslie initiated his Congo service in 1893 at Banza-Manteke. Two years later he developed a serious illness. A young missionary named Clara Hill took care of him until he recovered. Their budding friendship ripened into love and a marriage proposal. They were wed in 1896.

    In 1905 William and Clara pioneered a work in Cuilo, Anglola, where they overcame a hurricane that struck the night before one of their children was born, and more mundane obstacles like charging buffaloes and armies of ants.

    Seven years later they cleared enough of the leopard-infested jungle along the Kwilu River at Vanga for a new mission station perched on a small plateau. Some of the villages surrounding Vanga were still practicing cannibalism at that time.

    They spent 17 years at Vanga, but their service ended on a rocky note. “Dr. Leslie had a relational falling out with some of the tribal leaders and was asked not to come back,” Ramsey says. “They reconciled later; there were apologies and forgiveness, but it didn’t end like he hoped.”

    “His goal was to spread Christianity. He felt like he was there for 17 years and he never really made a big impact, but the legacy he left is huge.”

    Missionary died thinking he was a failure; 84 years later thriving churches found hidden in the jungle | God Reports

    Dr. William Leslie planted seeds, but never witnessed the growth of the tree and the fruit it produced. The gospel and the kingdom of God are all about planting, watering, and having faith.

    "What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

    How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”
    (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)(Mark 4:30-32)

    We must never underestimate the power of the gospel or the Holy Spirit and how they are working in people's lives. We must also never get discouraged, and always keep planting and watering!
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  2. Radrook

    Radrook Well-Known Member

    United States
    True, that is a basic Christian responsibility.
  3. Halbhh

    Halbhh Everything You say is Life to me Supporter

    United States
    What a wonderful account to read! Very encouraging!