Updated: Apr 28, 2021
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:6
It can be discouraging to sow into people's lives and not see fruit grow from those efforts. Alternatively, it is an amazing feeling when we get the privilege of seeing the Lord bear fruit through seeds that we have sown. Whether we sow or water, or harvest where we have not sown, the fruit is not really up to us, though. It is God who gives the increase. I recently had a really encouraging experience that reminded me of this truth, and I would like to share it with you in the hopes that perhaps it will encourage you.
Years ago, we were living in a small town in Oklahoma. During that time, the Lord brought a young man named Ali* into my path. Ali was a Muslim from the Arab world. We began to develop a friendship, and I was able to share the Gospel with him. He even accompanied me to church a couple of times. Graduate school eventually took him to another town and we stayed in touch for awhile, but he eventually changed numbers and we lost touch. I continued to pray for him as the Holy Spirit brought him to mind.
Maybe 5 or 6 years later, I was in a period that I was feeling a great deal of frustration in my ministry. A series of suddenly closed doors had seemed to stop our forward momentum. I know that this was the Lord maneuvering us, but it felt like pure frustration at the time. Crying out to the Lord, I asked for some encouragement.
A few days later, I was having coffee with a friend who is also very involved with international student outreach. During our visit, he received a phone call from a young Arab man that my friend had the privilege of leading to the Lord a couple of years back and had been discipling. After the call, my friend told me a little bit about the man's testimony.
Apparently his story began in the same small town in Oklahoma where he met someone who sowed seeds in his life. After hearing a few details, I asked incredulously "Is his name Ali?" It turns out that this was the same Ali that I had poured into and had been praying for all these years! We were able to reconnect, and to truly share in each others' joy.
This was a reminder to me that though one plants and another waters, it is God Himself who gives the increase! If you are in a period of sowing and have not yet seen the fruit, be encouraged! Our King has others watering, and He will give the increase!
*Ali is not his real name
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