Once again Jesus began teaching by the lakeshore. A very large crowd soon gathered around him, so he got into a boat. Then he sat in the boat while all the people remained on the shore. 2 He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
10 Later, when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant.
11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, 12 so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled:
‘When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.’” – Mark 4:1-12
Our vision clinic mission trip to Kenya was designed very intentionally. People would come from miles around, in order to receive eye care, eye glasses, and sometimes even eye surgery. The process by which they received that included receiving the message of Jesus. Not once, but twice during their process.
They would register upon arriving at the clinic site. From there they would go to a waiting area. During that time we would share the message of salvation utilizing the Evangelcube®. This was an overview – a scattering of the seeds of sorts – in which everyone heard the same presentation. I enjoyed doing that, and my interpreter and I hit it off quite well.
After the waiting area presentation, one by one they would progress through the various stops of the clinic. Two stops later they would have a one-on-one conversation with one of the evangelists. They would briefly go over the medical record, then ask, “What did you think of the Jesus presentation? Did anything stand out to you?” This was the point at which a deeper conversation could take place.
Some were brought to faith in those conversations. That would be the seed sown in good soil. The real conclusion about encounter would be evident many years later. Would their children and their children’s children also be brought into the fold? Would these new converts share this message with their family?
The church is not one generation away from extinction, even though that is a popular trope. But if we do not pass on the faith from generation to generation, to our friends and families, coworkers, and others, we are certainly not producing 30, 60, or 100 fold crops. Any sower would wish for a larger harvest. That large harvest is made possible by those who hear the word, let it grow, and become sowers of the word themselves.