“He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some 60, some 30.” –Jesus, Matthew 13:23
There I was, in debatably the most unreached region in the world with respect to Christianity (Oman, a country in the Middle East), and I had been challenged to pray and to seek God’s face in that desert place. No matter where I went or who I saw, there was more than a 99 percent chance that the people that I was interacting with had never heard the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One day, we took a trip outside of the town we were staying in, and our friend led us to the mountains where we would begin the climb up to a cave that had been formed out of the rock. This climb took place towards the end of our trip and therefore we had become acclimated to the dry weather, the desert, the desolation, and the oppression of Islam. Suffice it to say that by this point, we were in need of a good hike.
The cave was visible from miles away, but seemed to never get any closer. Though we hiked towards it, it seemed we were walking idly in place. There were no distinguishable land marks, like a tree, or a grassy knoll; or anything that had a different shade or color for us to judge distance. It was all rock. It was all the same. Even what seemed to be a distant rock roughly the size of an average person would turn out to be a boulder the size of a building once we got closer.
As we continued the climb upward to the cave in the mountains where the dry and rocky terrain covered the landscape, it occurred to me that even the environment of the region seems to reflect the similar oppression that the society is suffering. The ground is hardened, and deprived of nutrients; neglected by rainfall; scorched by the never-ending intensity of the blasting sun rays. The hike to the cave brought on similar discouragement that the walk through the Middle Eastern society had brought. Never-the-less, over the mountains we climbed.
We had nearly reached the cave when I came upon this plant with blooms that you see in the picture above. In normal circumstances, I would not have given a second thought to this simple green plant accompanied by some flowers, except that there were no plants that I had seen…anywhere, with this luscious color to it. There I stood, gazing at this wonder, pondering its reality, and perhaps doubting my own senses, when our good friend and my brother toppled over the crevice where I and the flowery plant were located. I pointed at the greenery and asked, “How?” Our friend smiled and chuckled, then proceeded to explain that there are little seeds that are buried beneath the rock and the dirt surface that stay bedded and dormant until the rain comes. “The rain will come,” He said. “And when it does, little plants and flowers like this will sprout here and there. You will never know what’s underneath the surface waiting to grow until the little sprinkle of water comes to aid it.
Amazed by this concept, I was deeply encouraged to finish the work we had to do in Oman. There are a number of factors that contribute to why the message of Jesus does not fill the land of the Middle East. Perhaps people are afraid for their life, or for their privileges, or for their families, and all of this is understandable. But I believe that a lot of us have no hope for people in this region; and that most of us believe that there is no chance that any Muslims will believe in Jesus. But look at the picture of this flower, and then tell me there is no hope. I was standing in the middle of a desert that reaches across hundreds of miles of land, and yet I was standing next to a flower. There are millions of seeds, just like that one, underneath the surface of the Muslim’s hearts, waiting for just a drop of water to sprout. Maybe that drop of water is a prayer, maybe it is simple awareness for the need of the Gospel in the region, maybe that drop of water is an aid to a friend who is working there in the name of Christ, maybe that drop of water is your calling to the field, maybe that drop of water is just a little hope.
Few Christians are established in this region today to share their faith and build relationships with the Muslim people; and from personal experience, I can tell you it can be quite discouraging, and it seems to our fellow Christians as if they are idly walking, with their goals and aspirations remaining the same distance far away and out of reach. But the seeds that are imbedded in people around them are buried, unseen, and undiscoverable until the water reaches them, and they sprout right before their eyes. By this we know, God works in ways we cannot understand, and in ways that we may not see.
It is not for us to decide whether one is not worth the Gospel, or whether there is no hope. We are to be faithful, steadfast, seed planters. Often times, perhaps we can drop a little water in a dry situation. We should believe there is hope. Because there is God.
Isaac Redman is a 22-year-old youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Church. He is a servant of Christ and loves music and the outdoors.