Most of the Christian ministry is hidden from public view. Yes, you have the public proclamation of God’s Word several times a week, but even that, I would argue is the fruit of hours of private study and personal prayer. In fact, most of the impact the Christian minister has is even hidden from his own view. Who knows the amount of people that have been affected by the tracts handed out, and the gospel opportunities they have had? Who know how many times they have preached a message seemingly unimpressive to their own ears, yet in the ears of another, it has an eternal impact- and perhaps even impacting thousands for the kingdom- all because of one seemingly unimpressive sermon. You get the picture. The impact of a man’s labor for the Lord is most often hidden, from those who view his public ministry and from himself. Truly a minister will never understand the full weight of his work on this side of eternity.
This is especially true when it comes to translated works, such as books, pamphlets, articles, subtitles for videos, etc… on the mission field. Let’s take for example a book. When an English-speaking pastor comes across a resource that has made an impact in his ministry, and he wants to share this resource with those who do not speak English, no one but his family typically sees the sacrifice he makes to go word by word, and line by line, in translating it. No one sees the struggle of taking well defined theological terms in English, and trying to translate them into a language that does not have a word that matches it. No one sees the personal frustration, and how many times the pastor was on the edge of dropping the work altogether. No one sees the late nights, the neglected sleep, the months and possibly years of labor. No one sees the additional times of editing, where they go back through the material again and again to recheck the spelling and grammar. No one sees the proofreaders, the negotiations with the printer, the struggle to design a cover, or the personal sacrifice to finance the work. For the most part, it is hidden from the public.
It truly is a labor of love. It is a labor of desire, hoping to see others impacted by this resource that has changed you. Yet, even after the book has been printed, and promoted to friends, family, and fellow labors in the field, there is still many unknowns. Is it received? Is it making an impact on a pastor or church? Or is it just sitting on the shelf collecting dust and wasting away? Has the labor over the last couple of months or years been in vain? As stated above, for the most part, the impact is hidden and will never be known on this side of eternity.
However, there are times when the Lord delights to show you some of the fruit of the labors. Such was recently the case with Sandeep in South India, who was recently contacted by a pastor who had received several resources. He writes:
“As a young pastor with theology, but lacking experience in pastoral ministry, initially, I found it very hard to survive, and failed
With all of my struggles, I happened to attend an inauguration of a Reformed Baptist Church and had the opportunity to talk with Pastor Sandeep, who was very kind and generous. He understood my struggles and gave me with few books which he translated into the Telugu language. Some of the books that he gave me were, The Gospel’s Power and Message, Knowing the Living God, and two booklets titled True Salvation (part 1 & 2) by Paul David Washer. He also gave me two books from Peter Masters titled Seven Certain Signs of True Conversion, and Church Membership in the Bible. These books helped me teach and conduct workshops and Bible study with my people. I thank God for this amazing help through Pastor Sandeep, who has a tremendous ability to translate strong and biblical books into the Telugu language. Praying and hoping these books, and upcoming books, will be a Biblical beacon of light by the seashore to guide, strengthen, encourage, and establish biblical truth among Indian church pastors and people who have been travelling through the never-ending unbiblical waves of this world, in order to reach the solid ground of Biblical Truth. Pastor: Balu”
While we entrust the impact of these resources into the hand of the Lord, knowing that He will use them according to His purposes, we do rejoice in letters such as this. It is humbling, knowing that the small unseen work of man is being used to produce great things in the kingdom of God. We might not see the whole picture. We might not see the person who finds one of these books in a random shop years after our passing and is affected. We might not see any of those who have truly benefitted from the spreading of this seed among the people. Regardless, we are encouraged, and do praise Him for allowing us to see one piece of fruit, and with that, we can say, it is enough. It is enough, knowing the one has been helped.
Stephen began working for HeartCry in 2015. As coordinator for Asia, North America, and Western Europe, he currently oversees the missionaries over 10 countries. He currently lives in Virginia with his wife and four children.More By Stephen Jacobs