“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
~ Isaiah 55:10-11
We sat on my bed in the dimly lit room with rain playing percussion on the leaves of the mango trees around us and I thought of the promise of Isaiah 55. Yuka had just finished telling me that her older sister just committed her life to Jesus! Yuka had returned to Honolulu only 5 days before after spending a summer in Korea with her sister. Together they’d attended a Japanese church where the loving caring community and delight in the Word of God created a fertile environment for growth.
Yuka made her own decision to follow Jesus just a year and a half ago while studying in California. A Bible study led by fellow Japanese students on her campus was her greenhouse as seeds of the Word to penetrated her heart. Since then, she has grown in her faith and moved to Hawaii and her testimony and love for Jesus has naturally scattered seed to those around her, including a fellow classmate who became a follower of Jesus 10 months ago and now her sister! We have hope that her mother will be soon to follow.
This summer Yuka’s uncle passed out of this life and into the next. At the time, Yuka was in Korea and her mother was in China at her uncle’s bedside. It was clear that uncle was nearing death, and knowing that Yuka had a personal faith in God, her mother called her on the phone and asked Yuka to pray for her Uncle and comfort him with the knowledge of God. Her mother held the phone up to her uncle’s ear and Yuka prayed for him, explaining to him that He can be with God after death if He just calls upon Jesus. Uncle was no longer speaking at this point, but following Yuka’s prayer, his face was enveloped in a knowing calm and he soon passed away peacefully. Yuka’s mom testified that Yuka’s uncle had found peace in the God she prayed to! Perhaps God was allowing Yuka’s faith to also bring salvation to her uncle in his last moments on earth and also minister powerfully to her mom.
Yuka and I have the opportunity to live together in a house under the mango trees this year as we both seek to reach out to International Students in Hawaii – me as a campus staff and her as a student. We are ministry partners and we are learning together what it means to be a part of God’s fruitful work of reconciling people to God and seeing them grow up in Him. As we listened to the pounding rain falling around our house, bringing greater fruitfulness to the heavy-laden mango trees, I said to her, “All those times you have shared the truth about God with your family, it has been like seeds which God waters and uses to generate life!” When I said this, her eyes lit up and she said, “Yeah, God has been using my words with my sister, my mother, and other extended family!” She could clearly see the connection. We reveled in the beauty and mystery of the new life God is bringing forth as we participate in His ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
As school starts today, we are excited for all the people we meet this semester and the ways he will use us to plant seeds of His Word!