Jesus tells a parable in Mark chapter 4 that is often overshadowed by the more famous parable of the mustard seed in the same chapter. Despite being only 4 verses however, this parable is one of my favorites, particularly as an evangelist and worker of the Word. Because it is so short, I will include it here in full;
And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (NASB)
The image is of a man who is working with material that is far beyond his comprehension, clocking in and clocking out from a job where marvels and wonders are happening right in front of him. He doesn’t need to understand what is happening, only what he needs to do next. Only Jesus could paint such an amazingly accurate portrait of an evangelist in so few words!
I received a phone call last week from one of our members who serves as the president of the council of residents in a government housing project. He frequently asks me for Bibles to give to residents, which I happily supply him from our bottomless stash provided by the saints at the Lutheran Heritage Foundation. This time he was calling me from San Juan, where he was at a meeting of all the government housing projects on the island. Apparently, our Bible distributions have been causing a stir in Ponce, and other presidents would like us to come!
He handed the phone around the table, and I spoke to a handful of community leaders who each told me that people come into their offices and ask them for a copy of the Bible. In one called “La Ceiba” we had recently done our workshop on making home-made soaps as an outreach, and we had given out some Bibles at the event. The community leader of la Ceiba told me that she has been hearing from those residents that received the Bibles that they want to know more about the church, and that they are amazed by how “Biblical” the explanation at the front is (the Small Catechism is included in the front portion of the volume). They want more Bibles and are interested in having us make follow up visits and possibly start a Bible Study there. Then I spoke to a leader in another city named Cayey who having heard the news from the Ponce leaders, urged us to come out and share with them there.
The same week, during our Sunday service we had a visitor walk in off the street and sit down. I spoke to her after the service and she said that she just had a feeling that she needed to come and learn about God’s Word, and she had seen our sign before and thought she would just come and see. By the very next week she had committed to come to confirmation classes to join the church and has faithfully attended every event since. I know not how!
Strategically, we are working on establishing a firm foundation for the people that were recent converts when we arrived, with the intention of shifting more of our focus to outward evangelism in the new year. Nevertheless, God doesn’t work on our timetable and even as we work on fixing up the barn and getting ready the equipment, He sends out the Word to do His Work! This is true Gospel for church-workers, and a central theme of the Reformation which we are celebrating, it truly does not depend on us!