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Planting Seeds

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We're finally here! No more endless flights and horrible airplane food. Thank You, Jesus! 

That was my first thought as our last connecting flight landed in Kolkata, India. A group of students from my school had taken three and a half weeks off to preach in the Sundarbans, with each student preaching an evangelistic series to their own village. My village had the simple name of L Plot. 

To get there each night, I boarded a creaky, smelly, cockroach-infested boat. As I boarded, I entered the lower deck and sat on the wooden floor, praying that the roaches wouldn’t find their way up my skirt. For two hours I sat there practicing my sermon until we reached my port. I climbed off the boat and onto the cement stairs to meet my Bible worker, who chauffeured me to my rickshaw ride and then to my little white church. 

But on my second night I hit the depths of despair. No one seemed moved or slightly interested in my sermons. What made it worse was when my Bible worker, out of sympathy, would raise his hand for the appeal. I appreciated it, but my goal was to reach people who didn’t know Jesus. I felt as if no one was receiving the message and there was no purpose for me to be there. I was the dedication plaque on a bench that people see but don’t read. After my program ended I staggered my way out side for some fresh night air and wallowed in my self-pity. Suddenly, two figures from the church approached me. 

“Hello, Sister. This man is very happy that you are here, and he is happy for your message,” said my translator, Pahal, in a deep Bengali accent. 

According to him, the whole village loved having me there, as if I were a movie star. All except for the people who were trying to perform their traditional wedding across the field and those who were putting on their annual festival. But they didn’t concern me. I knew my purpose for being there was aimed at a greater cause. Still, after the night of an empty appeal, I was low in spirits. But as I met with this man and listened to his response to the message, I felt my spirits lift. 

I heard God say, “Sierra, remember you’re here for a purpose. I am here with you, and I won’t waste this experience. Like canvassing, you don’t have to reap the fields, just plant the seeds.” 

Just plant the seeds. I can do that. Just like before. 

God and I had already been through this same situation. It was the summer previous to my mission trip, and I was canvassing in St. Louis. Honestly, it was the hottest summer of my life. It often seemed like no one wanted my books, and many times people wouldn’t even let me finish my canvass before they’d shut the door. But on rare occasions someone would open their heart and buy a book or two. 

This happened on one of my last streets of a very long day. The morning before, we had been trained on approaching doors with “No Soliciting” signs posted on them. However, no matter how much training I had, it always frightened me to canvass these doors. On this day I came to a door that had a sign, but it wasn’t just any sign. It read, “No soliciting. No religion. No donations. No sales. No politics.” Usually when I came to one of these doors I would freak out and pray, “Lord, please help no one to answer this door, because I don’t want some angry person to yell at me.” 

But at this specific door I prayed, “Lord, whatever happens within the next five minutes, I want to give it to You so that You have full control.” I stood there frantically trying to decide whether I wanted to do this door or not. Finally, after mustering enough courage, I knocked on the door and the sweetest woman opened not only her door but also her heart to me and to the books. However, even though I did get books into her “nonreligious” home, I was still upset. 

God, why couldn’t I have done more? They are closed to Your message, and I had this rare opportunity to share Your love with them. Why didn’t You let me do more? 

Then I heard God say, “Sierra, you did what could have been done. I know their situation better than you, and according to what I see, they just needed a seed to be planted, and that’s what we did.” 

We––God and I—are a team. In India or in America, He’s with me, conquering my battles before I even get to them. Through all the unopened doors, the rude rejections, and days of empty appeals, God was there, reminding me that I was planting seeds and that is all that I needed to do. 

He was with me at home, He was with me in India, and He will be with me—and with you––wherever the next mission field is. You don’t have to go far to be a missionary. 

Your destined mission field could be in your town, neighborhood, church, or even the pew you sit in every Sabbath. Nevertheless, whatever mission field you find yourself in, God is your teammate until the end of the line and beyond. 

Sierra Tobing writes from Lincoln, Nebraska 

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