|Photo by Dragfyre 2011|
Saturday, June 13, 2015
A Time to Plant
Romans 10: 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?… 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
What’s your excuse for not witnessing? Mine is fear. Fear of rejection, of offending, even of not being politically correct. But love, even if human and therefore not perfect, should cast out fear (1 John 4:18).
We are told to plant the seeds of belief in Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). But shouldn’t we also accept the responsibility of tilling the soil, watering the green shoots of faith, shedding light on the new growth, and tending it as it matures and bears fruit? What if we are the only gardener in one soul’s life, from sowing to harvest if we fulfill our mission (John 4: 34-38), or from sowing to withering if we fail?
When I first saw Sathit’s picture, he was a gaunt, solemn lad of 11, standing with his parents and younger sister before a fragile ornamental cherry tree in full bloom, in his native village in Thailand. He was an average student who liked to garden, or “to sprinkle plants in his leisure,” as the awkwardly translated letter put it.
My intentions were honorable. I had picked up a brochure at church and had decided to sponsor a foster child. But I failed him. I didn’t know then that I would commit the cruelest sin of omission possible (James 4: 13-17).
The sponsoring organization had “Christian” in the name, so I naively assumed that my monthly monetary gift would provide Christian outreach, along with food, school supplies, and contributions to community projects such as better wells in Sathit’s village. Providing for physical needs is important, but securing our eternal future even more so (Matthew 6:31-33; 16:24-26).
Eventually, I learned that their resources were too limited for missionary services, but by then, it seemed unkind to withdraw my support. Despite the thousands of miles that separated us, I came to know and love Sathit from his letters, drawings, and progress reports.
As time went on, I also sponsored other children through Compassion International, another organization that does offer Christian teaching. It is never too early to nourish children in the Word of God (Mark 10:13-17; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17). Reading letters from these children telling me that they loved our Lord and Savior brought me great joy. Arakiados, from India, even drew me an awe-inspiring picture of Jesus, as if he had seen Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12).
But Sathit was not that blessed. I sent him Christmas cards, and I wrote him about Easter, about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28:6-7) through which all believers can have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
He wrote back about offering food to the monks in the temples and about Buddhist festivals: “I would like you to throw water on Songkran Festival in the province very much.”
I always wanted to tell him more, to share the Good News (Proverbs 25:25) that Jesus came to save sinners like all of us (Luke 19:10; Romans 3:23) and to reconcile us to Holy God through His shed blood (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). I wanted to prepare the way so that the Holy Spirit could convict him and so that he would be born again and welcome Jesus into his heart (John 3:3-8; Romans 10:9-10).
But I was still a babe in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1), and I failed to do this. After all, I reasoned wrongly, Sathit lived in a Buddhist family and attended a Buddhist school, and I didn’t want to complicate his relationship with his parents or make trouble for him with his teachers or classmates (Matthew 10:34-40).
Anyway, he was growing up so fast, and now that he was a young man of 16, perhaps his circle of friends would widen. I hoped he would travel outside his village and learn about other cultures and beliefs. I thought others would germinate the seeds of Christian faith I had sparingly scattered across his path (2 Corinthians 9:6; 1 Corinthians 3: 5-11).
Sadly, I thought about it too little and too late (2 Corinthians 6:2). A letter from the sponsoring organization notified me of an emergency situation – could I please call for more information? My prayers in those 12 hours before the office opened were for the problem to have a solution, even if difficult – crop failure, housing destroyed in a storm, even illness in the family. Surely I could help somehow. After all, with Christ, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
But without Christ, there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12-19; Romans 5). I learned that Sathit was riding a motorbike when a pedestrian darted across the road. Sathit swerved to avoid him, crashed into a tree, and died instantly. His young life was plucked up before it even had time to take root.
“Well, at least he’s in Heaven now,” well-meaning friends said upon hearing the news. How I wished that were true. How I wished I had another chance to make a difference, to tell him how he could be saved.
Had I know Sathit had so little time (James 4:14) to make the most important decision of his life – to choose where he would spend eternity – would I have been less afraid, more persistent, more committed? (Galatians 6:9) Would I have given him the Word of Life (John 6:63-68) instead of speaking idle words (Matthew 12:36), for which I will have to give an account to Jesus at His judgment seat? (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
May God help me to remember Sathit every time He gives me an opportunity to witness, to nurture the growth of belief in Jesus. For many souls we meet, we may be the only gardener they’ll ever have.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
© 2003 Laurie Collett