These words, spoken by Mark Twain, really capture our feelings today following a random encounter with a pastor friend. While on a walk with our girls, we bumped into this family on their way to a Hanami party (Cherry Blossom viewing). After a brief chat, they mentioned a dinner they had with a young woman the previous week. Since she had come to our Alpha Course a few times, they knew we knew her. Through our conversations when she came, we sensed an openness to Christ, though questions still lingered. Due to her interest in Jesus, she had visited their church as well recently.
They then told us how during dinner she asked how to become a Christian. As a pastor, it is hard to imagine a more exciting questions to be asked. Right then and there, they led her to Christ!!
They went on to share how while they would love to have her join their church, the distance from her home may be too much. So, they plan on encouraging her to visit a more local church in her part of western Tokyo. I think I particularly appreciated this response since it is all too common for pastors to come across territorial, especially given how small churches are here and how important each person can be for their congregation.
In Corinthians, Paul shares a similar thought to Mark Twain (though Paul came up with long before the Tom Sawyer author). He talks about how one person may sow a seed, another water the plant, and finally a third may do the harvesting. In this case, we know that people have been praying for her before she even came to our Alpha class, another missionary had been meeting with her, and that God probably has used more people than we could imagine to bring her to this point. Though we didn’t have the joy of having that conversation with her over dinner, we all can rejoice of what God did. Ultimately, He is the one who deserves the credit anyways. It is not our questions during the Alpha class, Nicky Gumbel’s teaching during the video, or any other conversations that truly matter. God’s Spirit may have worked through these, but He should be the one that we praise at the end of the day.
My hope is that we all continue to serve with an attitude that God deserves the credit. Sure, we want to see our churches grow, lives to be changed, feel that God is using us, but I hope these ambitions don’t interfere with us playing our small parts together in seeing the Kingdom grow wherever God desires.