“For as in one body we have many members, but not all the members have the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but one is another’s member. We have various gifts according to the grace that is given to us. If any man have prophecy, let him exercise it according to faith. If anyone has a ministry, let him fulfill it. If anyone is a teacher, let him teach. If anyone has the gift of exhorting and comforting, exhort and comfort. He who gives, give with a pure mind. He who leads, do it with zeal. He who practices mercy, do it with joy. (Romans 12:6)
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I would like to greet you warmly in the name of our Lord and Savior. After two and a half months of missionary service in Ethiopia, I am back home. After what is happening in the world, one can only dare such a service with full trust in God. But it was also your prayer that I relied on. After 27 years of service, I could rely on it without a doubt. In His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:16, our Lord says, “By their fruits you shall know them. Can grapes be gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every good tree bears good fruit, but a rotten tree bears bad fruit.”
Thanks be to God and all glory to Him. I can confess with a clear conscience before God and before men, we all together as believers are a good tree that has borne good fruit. Those who have done their part together with our mission in prayer and gift as a member for the past 27 years know exactly what I am writing about.
Here I would like to share more about the deeds of God that He has done through us in the last three years. Like the Bible verse given above, especially verse 8b “He who gives, give with a pure mind.” This is very important to me in this case. Giving with sense and mercy and with joy, these are gifts, and they are GIFTS OF GRACE IN SERVICE TO THE WORLD COMMUNITY OF JESUS.
We have also read in the following “By their fruits you shall know them”. There I see a connection between the gifts and the fruits. I have noticed that the gifts are like seeds that make a tree with good fruit at all, but they must be sown. So, dear fighters, we are the ones who sow, and God is the one who makes grow and flourish. It is as simple as that, putting God’s word into action, accompanied with prayer. Whoever gives, give with a pure mind, and whoever practices mercy, do it with joy.
Finally, I would like to illustrate the effect of our gift with an image from nature. I think of a mango fruit. Even as a child, I liked mangoes, and ate them passionately. But what always bothered me was that mangoes could not be peeled and eaten like a banana. I had often wished that I could, because peeling mangoes was so complicated and left a lot of stains. I had often been annoyed by the large pit of the mangoes, until at some point I realized what God’s purpose was with that pit. As is often the case, we only know God through His work. It is like the children of Israel, they knew God’s work, but Moses knew the thoughts of God as to why He did it.
The children of Israel experienced His miracles, but not why He did it. When this would not have been so, they would not have longed for garlic and onions in slavery. God delivered them from their slavery through great miracles and promised to bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But Moses knew the thoughts and knew the goal of God: to bring the people to Canaan, that when the time is fulfilled, the Messiah will be born.
Yes, I realized, in this seemingly lifeless kernel of the mango is the seed. In that seed is a whole mango tree, and that tree in turn bears countless mango fruits that also have seeds in them. God has a purpose with everything. I finally understood what is written in the creation account Genesis 1:12b: “Trees bearing fruit in which is their seed.” Even in the beginning, the multiplication process is integrated into each seed. This is God’s thought, not the delicious mango fruit alone or the troublesome seed.
In this image of the mango fruit, my missionary responsibility for spiritual gifts has become clear to me. If God put in the mango fruit a seed to multiply, how much more in me, or in us. I thought of our Savior Jesus Christ. With twelve such seeds He conquered the world.
The frightening statement after that is: if I do not sow my gifts, that is, my seed, I thereby prevent the multiplication and spread of God’s kingdom. This is the model of our Lord, it starts in a small way with twelve apostles, but it becomes broader and broader – the kingdom of God grows with every single one who is added, because he also carries a seed that brings multiplication. But I also block the salvation of countless people with my negligence, if I do not sow my gift-fruit. God keep and open our eyes that we may see what responsibility we bear in His harvest field.
Dear brothers and sisters, from this blessing let us use our seed, our gifts. The blessings we have experienced in the Mission in recent years are a proof of God’s faithfulness, and also of your faithfulness.
God’s rich blessings!
Your missionary Shimeles Retta