Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it… The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (Mark 4:3-4,14-15 ESV)
Yesterday, I experienced what I believe these verses mean. Just a little background. Earlier this year, *Peter and one of his disciples led a man to Christ, *Sam. For those following our updates, you know a lot about Sam. Ever since putting his faith in Jesus, he has been heavily persecuted by his family and community. He has been kicked out of the village at least twice, is constantly verbally harassed by his family and in-laws, and has had to relocate his business shop. Yet through all this, he has remained faithful to his new Savior.
So yesterday, Peter and I hosted a small training at the church where Sam attends. The plan was to encourage the church to be faithful in sharing the Gospel with the empty villages and people groups around them. I had heard that Sam was coming and bringing his wife with him! This was very exciting since she is staying with him, but has not yet accepted Jesus. Once we arrived, word came that Sam’s mother was furious about this training and refused to let them leave. So we began our training, and about 5 minutes later Sam and his wife arrived! “This is the day” both Peter and I thought. This is the day that she will accept Christ and then we can baptize both of them!
I decided then that we should alter the training schedule just slightly to make sure that we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with Sam’s wife. Just as we were approaching the time to share the Gospel, my phone starts to ring. Earlier this month, I had ordered some Piper books translated in Hindi that were to be delivered this week. Well, of course they show up while I am at this training, and the delivery guy cannot find our house. I had Peter talk to him the first 3 times he called. After the 4th call, I decided that it would be a good time to take a short break while I talk with this guy. Also, I thought, let everyone get some air so they can be ready for the Gospel section.
Naturally, our 5 min break turned into 15 which is par for the course here. When we started again, Sam and his wife were not there any more. Turns out that she had gone back to their home and Sam’s mom was waiting there to let them have it. Sam finally returned and joined us about 10 min later; his wife did not. Later he told me that his mom was very mad and was yelling at both him and his wife for going against her wishes and attending this training.
After the training was over, I was thinking more about this “missed opportunity” when the above parable came to mind. I was reminded that the Gospel is sown among every type of soil; we don’t always know the condition of the soil before we share. In this case, we didn’t even get to share. It’s like the seed was snatched out of the air before it even had time to land. These are hard situations to understand. How is it that we didn’t see the thief coming? Why did I wait so long to share the Gospel? Why didn’t I change my schedule more? What if we hadn’t started 45 min late? What if I hadn’t ordered these books? What if the delivery guy had come at any other time? I could go on and on. But ultimately, I don’t get to chose the soil. I don’t actually cause the seed to grow. Later in chapter 4, Jesus tell the parable of the farmer where the harvest is growing, but he knows not how. It’s the Spirit that causes the growth. It’s the Spirit that prepares the soil and removes the obstacles, allowing the word of God to plant deeply and cause new life. The enemy is always working to prevent the spread of the Good News. He throws obstacles our way, even when we don’t even realize it. Yet, our God is greater than this enemy. He is working His plan according to His Holy Will. He will accomplish His plans for Sam and his wife and, hopefully, their family and community.
Continue to pray for Sam and his wife. Slow progress is happening. He is faithful and energized to continue sharing the Gospel among all peoples and all places where God’s Name is not yet known!