“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.””Matthew 13:31-33 NIV
These two parables are well known, and often the attention is on the kingdom of heaven, how it is firstly unseen then becomes big and lavish. However, when I reread this passage, I notice Jesus also mention only a few servants are working. He says there are one farmer and one woman, but both of them spend great efforts at preparing the kingdom. The farmer needs to plant, then water and pave the soil with nutrients. When everything is ready, he has to wait for the seeds to extend their root out and go deep down enough before they can emerge and be seen on the surface. Likewise, the woman needs to work on the sixty pounds of flour. That would not only be many hours of work, but also she alone needs to utilize all her strength to mix the flour and the yeast well.
Due to the restricted immigration policy, many missionaries are forced to leave Indonesia. One of the mission bases in island Bintan, due to the going of the missionary the 8 years ministry work is about to be forfeited. Meanwhile, the last stand is guarded and protected by one local co-worker. She alone takes care of the 3 floors building, responsible for cleaning and maintenance, evening bible study class, visiting and one full day teaching in a Christian primary and kindergarten school. How desperately she needs more of God’s servants, but the ministry headquarter cannot provide her with any good news. The only strength to keep perusing is from God, besides, keep working and praying, she has no other plan.
Same as the mission base in Batam island, its missionary also needs to prepare to leave at any moment. The pressures are not only from the visa application but also her home church which stops her financial sponsorship.
Yes waiting for the mustard to grow is boredom yet emotional. While waiting, one has to face many challenges particular nowadays churches like to adopt the commercial approach to evaluate all things. Meet the target? Meet the expectations? Any backup plan and expansion plan? Numbers achieving are seemed more critical than prayers.
60 pounds of flour is heavy and need to use all strength to mix them well. The 60 pounds powder after pouring some water will become 80 or more. But there is only one woman and her two hands. No equipment no helper. Mission work is lonesome but also challenging. The missionary has to face all kinds of pressure alone, the best way to protect them is by understanding and caring. Indeed finance and prayer are most important, but phony enough even members of the church’s mission department have little or no knowledge of cross-cultural gospel work. Their ignorance and remote often give unnecessary problems to missionaries.
My prayer, “ Heavenly Father, hallow be thy name. Thy Kingdom comes, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There are few workers although the harvest is plentiful. Help us learn how to care your workers, give us an understanding of hearts and the willingness to go extra. Teach us to love as You are Love. Amen”