Five years ago, Sarah* and I traveled with two African teammates for two days over bad roads to a town in a remote corner of West Africa. It was hot and dusty, and our vehicle had no air conditioning. We had a tire blow out one night on a remote stretch of road. But it was fun, and one morning we interacted with a family of monkeys near our hotel.
When we got to the central city of this isolated region, our local guide said there were no Christians or churches in the area, which included 93 villages. He showed us a deserted church building surrounded by tall weeds and a nearby home built by a missionary who had lived there for 17 years. That home, in disrepair, had been taken over by rebel forces during a civil war and then seized by the military, who still occupied it.
It was sobering to think of beginning a work where others had prayed and labored for many years and seen little fruit.
But the time was right! Now, five years later, the church leaders are reaping where others sowed, as Jesus said in John 4:36-38:
Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.
Last month Sarah and I were privileged to go to the dedication of a new church building in this town, built with the funds and labor of the new believers there. It’s an impressive building for a new church in a poor, isolated area.
And another wonderful thing happened! When the denomination that owned the deserted church building witnessed the fruit of the new church, they sent a pastor to restart their own work.
The two young pastors are helping and encouraging one another, and there are now two growing churches in the town!
As Jesus said, “the sower and the reaper are glad together!” We are in touch with the former missionary who invested so much, now retired and in her mid-80s. She is thrilled that the seeds she sowed so many years ago are bearing a beautiful harvest.
*Names have been changed for security purposes.