We like things to be predictable. Trains that are on time, schedules well planned and that new episode on netflix ready to watch when we get home.
Predictability encourages comfort and comfort relieves stress, it gives us something to look forward to, a escape from that uncertain, underlying longing deep down looking for something more.
Do you know what it feels like to work toward something that has no certainty? All the toil, the planning, the messages, the reaching out...it could all result in nothing. Often ministry can be like that. We believe, we hope, we do all the right things but very little seems to be happening!
I help run a cafe for international students in Manchester. Our first event flopped. Someone sorted the venue, all the food was in order, the playlist was made and the invitations sent. 3pm came and no one turned up! An actual tumble weed rolled past the community centre. 4pm hit. We shut up shop. Our vision was a room full of international students from all over the world coming together, becoming friends and exploring the Bible together. We saw none of it! The team gathered and prayed, talked about how we might invite more people and agreed to carry on.
Since then, we’ve connected with over 30 internationals from 12 nations and began to form a small core that we’re regularly connecting with and introducing to the gospel. We’ve baptised one, two are regularly coming to church and we’ve shared the gospel with almost all of them. We’re believing for the unseen! Our faith tells us every one may respond to Christ, the cafe will grow and students from all over the world will be sent back to their nations as missionaries.
We don’t know this will happen, but we believe it will because of the faith God gives.
Even established student ministries can be become predictable, stagnant and maintain a group of believers to huddle around one another in an attempt to feel better. Anyone can create an environment where this is possible, it attracts comfort and ease without addressing what could be when we face those who are lost, broken and hopeless. Working toward the unseen is dynamic, it’s faith filled, creative and uncertain, we join with the Spirit to build with students who have never set foot inside a church. Unreached students are in the cities, towns, neighbourhoods and streets that we live in. It’s still time to reach them.
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Where is the good soil in your student work? Have you seen it yet? Perhaps you haven’t so it’s time to throw some more seeds down. I don’t imagine the sower knew exactly where the good soil was but he threw it down anyway. He was generous. It’s the heart of the Father, the greatest sower, who compels us to sow the seed generously, giving away the gospel, even to the hardest hearts in the hope they will turn out to be good soil.
I commission you as a worker in God’s harvest field. You are a generous worker with an abundance of seed to give away. We believe the seed will land, take root and yield a crop, not always in the way we expect but we go in faith believing the unseen will become seen.