The Life of a Missionary: Discouragement

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” I Corinthians 3:6

We know that God is the one who causes growth; He is the one who gives the increase, but it is sometimes easy to be discouraged when we do not see apparent growth or increase.

We have lived in Craiova for almost six months, and as of now the church has no new members and no regular visitors. We have events and studies, but often no one comes. Sam passes out hundreds and thousands of flyers, posts countless posters, and we advertise regularly online, but the results we have seen are few.

And it is easy to get discouraged.

It is hard for me to see Sam work so tirelessly every day, studying diligently, coming up with new ideas and methods for reaching people, and getting out of his comfort zone to get out and talk to strangers in a country where he is unfamiliar with the culture and unaccustomed to the language, and not be discouraged for his sake. Sometimes I think, “Don’t these people see how passionate he is and how hard he is working? Why won’t they respond?” But I know this is the wrong way to think. I am thinking too much in physical terms, expecting to see a tangible result of spiritual efforts. No amount of effort on our parts will force people to make the decision to turn their lives to Christ; that is up to them and God. All we can do is keep diligently sowing the seed and give the rest to God.

The gospel is still growing in Craiova, whether or not we see the results with our eyes. We have heard countless stories of conversions that resulted from a single small seed planted years ago. With so many seeds planted all over the city, from flyers to posters, to events and conversations, we pray that one day one of these seeds will grow in someone’s heart and prompt them to turn to God for help and salvation.

Yet even if one of these seeds does not take root, the gospel is still growing. Sam and I have both grown so much from this experience, and we continue to learn every day. We are learning to rely on God and His timing, not our own plans and ideas of success.

And He is causing the growth.