A farmer went out to sow and some seed fell on rocky ground! Many years ago missionaries left the UK for the Iberian Peninsula to sow the seed of the gospel. They encountered hard soil, opposition, set back and tragedy. Yet they set their faces like flint towards their God and his Great Commission. Their graves lie in the churchyards of these nations, gathering moss and seemingly forgotten.
Beyond human eye though, a seed spouts, it pushes down fragile roots through the dry dusty soil and small shoots appear above ground level. A season of rain and more shoots appear and what looked forsaken and deserted now takes on the appearance of a garden, a planting of the Lord.
The huge joy of seeing what God is about in Spain and Portugal was our privilege last week. Hundreds gathered to tell their stories of how God was at work, with lives changed, ministries birthed and churches planted.
Let me share with you about A Fonte, now led by a 28 year old grandson of one of those first pioneers. The church has seen 10 people saved this year and they are baptizing folk most weeks. This is a New Testament community buzzing with life and reaching out with the love of Christ and believing God for 50 souls by the end of 2014! Out of their abundance they are reaching out to poorer communities with a new social project facilitated by a beautiful new mini bus paid for by Newfrontiers.
I could tell you of many breakthroughs in other churches, of battles, of amazing friends who have worked so hard to break up the soils of these nations to the place we find today. Let Heather give you another story:
"Every year we have the joy of visiting these folk in Portugal and more recently Spain, and every year I am struck by ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. Year after year long, before we came on the scene, these dear men and women have toiled, living normal life with their children, contending with all the things the rest of us do. Their reward is not fame or fortune but an eternal reward of souls reached and lives changed by the gospel. Now linking with small groups all over the two nations we are humbled by their determination. Portugal and Spain are beautiful countries famed as holiday destinations - the sunshine, the valleys, the sea, tasty food and wonderful wine. This time though, we were struck every day by the scent of flowers - orange, lemon and jasmine blossom as well as cascading roses. The promise of future fruitfulness was everywhere. With the heady perfumes even more pronounced as night fell the promise was tangible. That's how it felt at the conference, God is on the move, it’s a new day for these nations and one which will be marked by harvest."
So, in finishing this blog, let me encourage every reader to never give up in their faithful sowing and praying for a God harvest in their church or nation. Harvest is God made but we can and must sow and water the seed of the gospel. I am so often reminded of William Carey–“I can plod. To this I owe everything.” Plod on all plodders, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.