My husband has taken up gardening since we moved to Florida, the Sunshine State. Fruits and vegetables supposedly grow easily in Florida. And some things do … like the basketball-sized cabbages we get every year!
But some of his plants have floundered. He's planted seeds and nothing sprouts. Or sprouts come up quickly, but wither when the rains don't come, and he forgets to water them. Some plants seem healthy for a while, but the fruit never comes.
It's no wonder Jesus used agricultural metaphors in His teachings. His immediate listeners worked the rocky ground in Palestine. They knew the cycles of planting and pruning, tending and reaping. And they knew the need to be patient with seedlings when real work is happening beneath the surface. In due time, the seed will bear fruit.
Beneath the Surface
Spiritual fruit follows many of the same cycles. The process of someone moving from a curious seeker of the gospel to committed follower of Jesus can take years. Sometimes the gospel takes hold in what appeared to be the deadest soil of all.
That's what happened for Yossef*, a Cru staff member in a closed Middle Eastern country. He witnessed the bearing fruit in a place he never expected to see it.
Yossef sat across a small dining room table from Moshe, whose curly, dark hair fell on thick, bulky shoulders. Moshe confessed he was the first person in his city to sell drugs—an achievement that no longer brought him any satisfaction. He explained how his whole life changed when a family member gave him a gift—a red plastic packet containing a "JESUS" DVD and an Arabic New Testament. This relative had received the materials while traveling in Europe over the summer and passed them onto Moshe.
Months earlier, the relative had been one of the tens of thousands of vacationers from North Africa and the Arabian Gulf who descend upon London to escape the summer heat in their countries. In hopes of giving people from these "closed" countries an opportunity to meet Jesus, believers comb the streets of London handing out these plastic packets. Most of the time, they have no idea if their seed-gifts of the Word of God ever fall on fertile ground.
The Touch of "JESUS"
When Moshe received the packet, he set it aside. He saw no need for another God who would give him rules to follow and unbending standards to meet. Then one day, his life crashed around him. He had no hope. Remembering the red packet, he loaded the DVD into a player. Mesmerized, he watched "JESUS" over and over again.
"The film touched me!" he told Yossef. One, two, three times …. Each time he watched, he felt moved. He began praying and reading the New Testament, and God touched his heart. Moshe admitted he was an intimidating, dangerous man before following Christ. Today he boldly proclaims his faith in Jesus and hosts a group of believers in his home.
A packet given in faith to a vacationer in London brought new life to a hopeless man in a culture closed to the gospel.
Finding Fertile Ground
Planting a seed in the ground takes faith in the growing process. When a seed is surrounded by dark, moist soil and coaxed out of the ground by the warmth of the sun, growth happens. And when the Word of God is planted in a heart, surrounded by a need for a Savior or crises in life, and coaxed by believers who can point the curious soul to Jesus, growth happens. New life sprouts and a Christ-follower is born.
What seed-gifts can you take to plant in the people around you this week? Download the Jesus Film app available for all phone types, to begin spiritual conversations to show you where the ground is fertile.
*Name changed for security reasons