“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” — I Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
As I look out my window, the forsythia is starting to bloom. Out front, our daffodils are coming out. Yellow is my favorite color, so I look forward to seeing both each spring. New growth is all around us (and hopefully within us as well).
This year I celebrated my 48th rebirthday. I’ve been a Christian for a long time now. I got saved during the Jesus People Movement of the late ’60s-early ’70s, a time when young people by the thousands were being born again. My salvation only took a moment– but as I look back, I can see that many “gospel seeds” were planted along the way.
My First Gospel Seed
The first seed planted was my religious upbringing. I was raised Catholic. Our family went to Mass every week. It was part of the American lifestyle back then. It was expected, and I didn’t mind. When I was really young, the Mass was still in Latin. I didn’t have a clue what it was all about, but there were always the beautiful statues and stained glass windows to look at. If I got too restless, my mother would give me her rosary beads to play with (I would pretend that Jesus on the cross was Tarzan swinging through the jungle on a vine).
Then came Vatican II, and lots of changes. The Mass was now in English, but it still didn’t make much sense to me as an older child. My sisters and I would go to confession each week. We always went to the same priest because we knew we would get the same penance (“Say three Hail Marys and one Our Father.”) Then we would meet at the communion rail and start our prayers together, racing to see who could finish first. (Can you picture God laughing?)
Our parish moved to a newly-built church, and the pastor warned all the children to never go up in the choir loft. I found out later that he didn’t want us messing around with the expensive new organ, but meanwhile my child-mind had concluded that the Holy Ghost must live up there. So I stayed away, because who wanted to go up in a haunted choir loft? I had absolutely no idea who the Holy Ghost was.
As you can see, I was a very confused Catholic.
Still, I am grateful for my Catholic background because it instilled in me the belief that going to church was an important part of life. Now that I’m a born-again, evangelical Christian, it’s no longer just a habit. Going to church gets my week off to the right start. It’s my favorite part of the week. I love the worship, I love listening to sermons, and I love the brothers and sisters in Christ that I see there each week. It saddens me when I think of all the people nowadays who view church as irrelevant to their lives.
They don’t know what they’re missing.
My Catholic upbringing also instilled in me an iron-clad belief in a Creator God. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God. In my younger years He seemed very far away and I wasn’t really connected to Him– but I knew He was there. After becoming a Christian, of course, I grew much closer to Him. God is as real to me as the air I breathe.
More Gospel Seeds
My teenage years were troubled times, but “gospel seeds” continued to be planted in my life. A Christian television station went on the air in Hartford– WHCT, Channel 18. In those days before cable and satellite TV, there weren’t many channels to watch. A new one was definitely a novelty, so I decided to check it out. I found a show hosted by a weird old lady named Kathryn Kuhlman, who always dressed in long flowing robes and pronounced God as “Gawd.” I thought she was more than a bit strange, but I began watching her program because I had never seen anyone talk about God the way she did. It was as if He was right there in the room with her!
I also began watching “Oral Roberts Presents,” which was filmed on the campus of Oral Roberts University. I was thinking ahead to college, and this was the first campus I’d ever seen. It sure looked pretty. Then there were the World Action Singers, a group made up of students from ORU. They sang a combination of old hymns and contemporary Christian songs. They were always smiling and looked so happy. I was battling depression and suicidal thoughts at the time, and even though I didn’t understand the preaching, I always felt better after watching these programs. Somehow I knew that God was trying to get my attention.
These “gospel seeds” were planted in my life, and eventually they bore fruit. I became a Christian in 1973, and soon found myself planting “gospel seeds.” The ministry I became connected with often did “street witnessing” on Saturdays. We would pair up with a partner, a town would be selected, and off we would go with our pockets full of gospel tracts. Most people back then would take papers handed out by strangers, and sometimes we’d be able to engage them in conversation and tell them about Jesus.
Of course times have changed, and the old evangelism methods may not work as well. But people still need the Lord. The Church may have to “think outside the box” and come up with new ways to communicate the gospel (like a blog on the internet, for instance.) But we still have to keep planting those “gospel seeds,” and watering seeds that others have planted. Keep praying that God will open up doors of opportunity. Keep asking God for the boldness to speak for Him.
There IS a harvest coming. And won’t it be exciting to be a part of it!
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