I bit into a grape not long ago.
I love grapes but to my dismay, this one had a seed in it.
Somehow, in my haste, I had missed the label on the package. I would never have purchased grapes with seeds.
Seeds spoil the succulent fun.
Of course, where would we be without them? There would be no grapes, or apples or any other fruit or vegetable without seeds. I still vividly remember buying vegetable seeds for my dad’s garden when I was a kid in Connecticut.
Dad, who didn’t know what a small garden was, would have great ambitions every planting season. After careful study, he picked out the seed packages he wanted and he knew the brand names. I marveled at his attention to detail; his encyclopedic knowledge of all the instructions.
Sometimes he’d ask me to pick them up at the store and he was always very specific.
I figured what’s the difference?
I remember the luscious and colorful squash, corn or carrots pictured on the outside of the package in all their glory. But the seeds were disappointing and never looked like much. When harvest time came it was from those tiny inconspicuous seeds that a bountiful and beautiful garden, cultivated with deliberate care and blessed with the rain and sun from above, had grown.
It was another valuable agricultural lesson I learned in spite of my rather apathetic disposition toward gardening.
Beth and I were in Atlanta recently attending the Haggai Institute Global Summit. What an exciting event. Recognized Christian leaders from around the world had converged to share the Haggai Experience. These men and women had taken Haggai’s leadership training for evangelism.
They didn’t resign their professions but instead had returned to their native lands – and their occupations – and joyfully shared the Gospel with their countrymen – in their own language and culture.
This is a model of global evangelism unmatched in power and effectiveness anywhere in the world.
While much of the third world closes its doors to western missionaries, Haggai Institute bypasses visas, lengthy language courses and cultural acclimations to take the love of Jesus Christ to unexpected and previously unreached places.
Haggai’s leaders are trusted because they are not strangers from away – they are one with those they reach.
Whether it is an artist in China, an environmentalist in Indonesia, a scientist in Bulgaria, a doctor fighting AIDS in Nigeria, or a businesswoman helping the victims of war in Ukraine, the leaders of Haggai Institute are making this world a better place – and sharing the Gospel while they’re doing it.
Never has there been a greater need. Never has there been a more exciting opportunity.
Since 1969, Haggai Institute has prepared nearly 100,000 men and women from 188 nations to present the Gospel to those who have yet to hear that God loves them so much that he sent his Son to die for them.
The leader of our Mandarin ministry in China, a gifted young man named Ezekiel Tan, shared a quote with us in Atlanta:
“You can count the number of seeds in an apple but you can never count the number of apples in a seed.”
Jesus told us that the “kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20, KJV). There are often no visible signs of God’s work – no news broadcasts or prime-time specials. Much of what God does in this world begins in unremarkable and small ways. It’s often undercover and unnoticed.
A recent report reveals that there may be close to one million Christians worshipping in secret in Iran.
God’s kingdom grows and expands and it advances not through geopolitical shifts or military conquest but through the daily dedication of the disciples of Jesus and their quiet deeds of love and kindness.
When he described God’s kingdom, Jesus compared it to a mustard seed.
“It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants”, he said. “It grows into a tree and birds come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13: 32, NLT).
The influence of God’s kingdom may not be easily observed or loudly lauded in a world reeling from evil and drenched in suffering, but its transformative power is making the lives of millions better.
God does great things from tiny seeds.
There is no stopping the power of God. There is no thwarting the purposes of God. There is no killing the love of God. There is no defeating the kingdom of God. The gates of hell shall never prevail against it.
Christianity had to go worldwide. It had no choice.
This was its founding charter, its far-flung vision and its forging mission. Jesus made this crystal clear to his first followers on the Galilean mount of his ascension.
Before God brings the curtain down on this fallen planet, purges it with fire and makes all things gloriously new, Christ’s Great Commission will first be fulfilled. The Good News must be preached to all nations (Mark 13:10).
The story must be told.
Through ministries like Haggai Institute and its global leaders, this divine mission could be achieved in our lifetime.
May we always remember that in this great enterprise, no one can count the number of apples in a single seed.