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I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
(1 Cor. 3:6-8)
I recently took a bunch of teens on a two-week mission trip to Schwedt, Germany (former East Germany). We shared the Gospel with teens that were unfamiliar with the basic Gospel message.

Communism had obviously been quite effective at removing the knowledge of God from the hearts and minds of the people. As always we had to earn the right to share the Gospel with them. The most effective way was through relationship building.

While sharing our faith, we often encountered the reply, "I like what you have to say, and I think it's good, but I'm going to have to think about it some more. I've never heard this before."

Although this was heartbreaking and frustrating, I appreciated their honesty. Actually they were quite open to our message because we just sat and talked with them, not just to them.

Cindy, Nancy and Jessica
I remember especially a 15-year-old girl named Nancy. She was the one of the first people I talked to on the street in Schwedt. She and her friends were playing cards near where we had been doing our outreach.

My friend, Pastor Mario, and I went over to talk to these three girls. It turns out that Nancy's friend Cindy had been on the verge of making a decision for Christ the year before at a Christian concert outreach.

After we shared our testimonies, Mario asked her if she was ready for us to pray with her to give her life to Jesus. She said yes and she gave her heart to Christ right there in front of her friends. Her friends allowed us to pray for them, but only about things going on in their lives.

We saw Cindy, Nancy and Jessica nearly every day for the next week and a half. They were at almost all of our nightly services, and many of the day outreaches on the street.

Every time we saw them, we continued to talk with them, along with some of the girls from our team who had befriended them. They heard story after story about God's grace and His heart for lost people. But every time we asked them if they wanted to give their hearts to Christ, Nancy and Jessica said they weren't ready.

The last night of our trip, Cindy and Nancy were there hanging out after the service to talk with us. Cindy's expression was so incredibly different than the first day we met her. It was obvious that she was a changed individual.

The Wrong Mindset
I told Nancy that I would be honored to be able to pray with her to give her life to Christ. Cindy even asked her to pray with me, but Nancy was afraid. She allowed us to pray for her (while she sat there in tears)...for God's blessing and protection, and that He would continue to reveal His heart and His love to her.

Although I was sad because of her lack of decision, it occurred to me that the church has adopted the wrong mindset about evangelism and sharing our faith.

Of course the goal of evangelism should always be to lead someone into a life-changing relationship with Christ. We want others to be able to experience the goodness of God and to find His forgiveness and grace, just as we have.

But we end up celebrating the wrong things. We often consider it a success only when we lead someone to Christ. If not, we feel like a failure. It's as if we have invested our time and energy, only to have them turn us down. If only we would've said this or that differently, or if only we would have made this or that point more clear things would've been different, or....

What Is Success?
While it's good to reflect on what happened, it's important to not lose sight of God's view of success. We consider it a success when we see tangible results. But God sees from an eternal perspective. He considers it a success when we respond to His leading and His heart.

The following details a typical pathway in the journey towards faith in Christ. God begins drawing us from the moment we are born. He orchestrates events, thoughts and "perceptions" in order to show us the reality of His presence.

In every life He directs the crossing of a person's path with that of a believer, whether it be in a face-to-face encounter, through printed material or through the media. If the believer will be obedient to God's leading, the "seed" of saving faith in Christ will be planted.

Then God will position other people or events that will further point us towards Him. This is where a believer must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have opportunities everyday to be the messenger of God, guiding people towards Him.

When we are the second, third or fourth "messenger" in this process, the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians chapter three calls this "watering the seed."

If we follow natural reasoning, we are unsuccessful if we are anywhere in the process, except at the end: praying with people for salvation. But as far as God is concerned, we are totally successful when we share Him with a lost world.

We are an important part — coworkers with God — in the process of bringing people to the point of salvation! If we just look at the outward appearance, we'll walk away frustrated and disappointed.

But if we look from God's perspective, we'll have courage to keep on planting and watering...and sometimes even harvesting!

Cindy was ready because someone else had planted/watered a "seed" in her life at least a year ago. God had been working on her that entire time, getting her ready for the moment we would speak with her on the street. Then all it took was a simple conversation about God's love and she was ready.

Let me encourage you to keep sharing your faith. Of course you should work on your witnessing skills, read books, attend seminars, etc. Do what you can to prepare yourself. But in the final analysis, it is all about obedience to God (Mark 16:15).

Copyright © 2004 Jon Perrin Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Jon Perrin
Web site: Perrin Ministries
Jon and Robin Perrin met at Bible school. They have over 25 years of ministry experience. Besides their family, their greatest passion is empowering leaders and mobilizing churches to reach the unchurched.

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