Signature Seed Story
A rite of passage is considered a powerful, life changing, spiritual event in the lives of people in many countries and cultures around the world. This unique journey marks a shift in a person’s life. This rite of passage traditionally has three phases:
• Separation from your previous world
• A significant encounter that moves you in a new direction
• Re-entry into your community
In some cases the person going through this powerful time is even given a new name that is symbolic of their unique journey. Their community never views them quite the same again. This is where my story and my own “rite of passage” began. And this is how I received my new name.
several years ago, I routinely turned on my computer to check my emails. But I assure you, this day was anything but routine. It would come to be known as the day when everything in my life would begin to change.
A designated leader sent me this secure email, “This is an invitation to ask you to come to our country in three weeks to attend a very special gathering of leaders. We are planning to come together from all over our nation to meet with you. This will take place in the interior of the country in a remote, secret place. The purpose of the gathering is to discuss ways to be more effective in reaching our nation with the good news of Jesus and His love. You will be the only foreigner in attendance. Because of the caliber of people coming, this has the potential of being a dangerous gathering. Security is of utmost importance. Simply respond with a yes or no. If you accept this invitation, you must come alone. We will not be able to communicate with you any more until hopefully, we see each other face to face. It is just not safe. We hope and pray you will say yes to our request.” ~ Your brothers in Christ
My heart began to pound and my mind raced as I read this exciting invitation over and over again. My immediate thought was a loud YES! Of course I would go. This was a trip of a lifetime! After all, my brother and I had a motto when we were growing up the farm. Quite simply, if an activity did not include the possibility of death, it wasn’t considered fun. This, of course, met the above criteria. So saying no to this invitation was not even an option!
One of the biggest challenges in preparing for this trip was that I could have no communication with the people I would be going to see. I concluded the only way to get any information was to pray and ask God. So, I simply said, “Lord, you know the needs of the people who I will be meeting in a few days. Is there anything you would like me to bring them?” Immediately, something popped into my mind loud and clear. To be honest, I considered it to be a bizarre thought. But it was clearly not something I came up with so I took it as God responding to my question.
I knew time was really short so I began to try to track down this item. It wasn’t easy to locate because it was a seasonal item that was not available locally yet. I finally was able to find some in a larger town about an hour away. I made a quick trip and bought as much as I thought I could handle. Once I got back home, I put it all in a special suitcase. I closed it up, weighed it to make sure I did not exceed to luggage requirements, and set it aside. All that remained was a good night’s sleep. The next day I would head to the airport for the beginning of this adventure.
And here is where this unfolding drama really picks up the pace! My instructions were as follows. Take a flight from the city nearest you to the place you have been told. Once you arrive, stay overnight in there and the next morning go to the agency you have been instructed to visit to get your visa. They will expedite the process for you so you can quickly get to your next location for your orientation before coming into the country where the meeting will take place.
Getting to the country and the location where the meeting was held is an exciting story all in itself. But that is for another time. Let me take you right to the meeting in a remote, undisclosed area, deep in the interior of this country. . .
We were brought to a simple room at 2:00 in the morning. Our bare room consisted of a floor of hand sawed, unfinished, wood planks; two small beds that were simply boards laid on top of crude carpenter saw horses; thin blankets for bedding; and one chair. There was no electricity, no heat and no running water. Our “bathroom” was a bucket in the hole of a dirt floor. As you can well imagine, we got very little sleep that night. The lodging was obviously simple but the experience would certainly have been rated as 5 star.
First thing in the morning, my friend and I received a knock on our door and the voice outside said, “It is time to get up.. Everyone else is already waiting for you and have begun their morning meeting.” We were ready in a few minutes as there was very little primping that we could do with such humble accommodations.
I will never forget what we saw when we walked out of our little room, down the corridor and into the back room where about 60 people had gathered to begin the morning meeting. At first glance I knew I was in a room with very poor, humble people. Most of them were wearing clothes that were not much better than rags. All of them were kneeling on a dirt floor, praying in earnest. The room sounded like a bee hive as the buzz of prayer continued to ascend from fervent lips. In front of most of them was a small mud puddle, made by their unrestrained flowing tears. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was standing on holy ground.
After awhile, the prayer buzz began to gradually die down. The pastor who brought us to this room cleared his throat. He was the one who had coordinated this gathering. At this point, everyone looked up and when they saw me, their faces burst into the warmest smiles I think I have ever seen. I will never forget that moment when we looked into each other’s eyes. I instantly knew I was with family… a very special family.
Unfortunately, our time together was cut short due to a security threat. That very first morning while we were meeting in secret in the middle of nowhere, our van driver was arrested and interrogated for 3 hours by the local authorities. When the police left, he notified a contact person about what had happened and the news quickly reached us. A discussion was held and a decision was made that we would need to begin to disperse and get out of there in case we were busted.
I was so disappointed. I had come so far. Everything had gone so well. I felt as if this news was waking me up out of a deep sleep and a wonderful dream that I wanted so bad to finish. But it was not to be. The safety of our new friends was at stake. The risk was too high to stay together. All we could do was begin to say our sad goodbyes. Although our time together had been so brief, the love for each other was already deep.
Time was short. I knew I only had a few hours left before my translator and I would be brought back to the airport to get out of this region and fly to a different part of the country. There was still so much I wanted to ask….so much I wanted to learn. But at this point I had to decide what was most important.
My translator and I were sitting in our little room with two key leaders. It was our last conversation before we had to leave. All four of us were sitting on simple chairs that we had carried into our room and my suitcase, full of priceless gifts, remained unopened on a chair near us. At this point, neither the suitcase, nor its contents had even been mentioned. I looked earnestly into the eyes of this extraordinary leader that I had so quickly grown to admire and said, “Pastor, I hope to return to my country in a few weeks. When I get there, people will ask me, “What is the number one need of the leaders you met with? When they ask me this question, what should I tell them?” Without hesitation, he quickly responded, “You must tell them our number one need is seeds.”
In my orientation, I had been told the believers in this nation often speak in coded language. For example “seed” or “bread” actually refers to Bibles or Christian materials that are so desperately needed. I asked him, “Pastor, could you please clarify for me. Do you mean Bibles or Christian materials or do you actually mean seeds?” He responded, “Seeds sister…vegetable seeds. We have been fasting and praying for the last 3 weeks asking God for seeds. We already know that God wants us to sow the seeds of the good news of Jesus with lost people in our nation. But we have just come to realize that He also wants us to bring real seeds to plant because people need food to eat too.”
My mind could hardly grasp what I was hearing! My heart began to pound and my hands began to shake as I leaned over to the suitcase sitting on the chair between us. I unzipped it, flipped open the top and said to him, “Then perhaps Sir, these must be for you.” Instantly, the pastor’s eyes widened in astonishment. Why? Because you see, the item God had told me to buy was vegetable seeds. About 100 bags of seeds of several varieties were covering all the Christian resources in my suitcase. But at this point, nothing else on the bottom even mattered.
The pastor grabbed two handfuls of seeds and ran out of our room and down the open corridor to the little back room where a small group of believers still remained. He held up the seeds and explained what had just happened. Within a few minutes the whole room burst into tears…joyful tears! Everyone was hugging each other and crying as we celebrated the miracle of the seeds and what God had just done.
Every time I remember this story and this moment, I still am so amazed. My life changed that day. All of our lives changed. Although we have not seen each other since, our work together has gone on for many years. Thousands of people have heard the good news of Jesus in this nation. Leaders have been trained and sent out. Schools have been started. Groups of believers like this one are meeting all over this nation.
In many ways, everything that has happened since then began with a simple question “Lord, what else do the leaders need?” And this brilliant, creative, loving, practical God said, “Bring them seeds.”
In some cultures, when someone goes through a life-defining encounter, they are given a new name. It is often referred to as a rite of passage. That time finally came for me this year. It became clear that it was time for me to create my own ministry organization. It has been a long hard process. But one thing was really easy. When I was asked, “What will you name your ministry?” I responded, “Global Seed Planters.”
It should be obvious by now…it was God who gave us this name.