When back in your homeland have you ever given a talk about your adopted country and people – where you talk about the food, the culture, the language, and how you love the people, but then say – there’s no fruit because the soil is hard? Yes, the ground we work is hard. So how is seed to grow? How is there ever going to be a harvest? In Matthew 13:4-9, Jesus teaches us a bit about farming.

There are 3 main characters in His story; the sower, the seed and the soil. The sower represents the evangelist, the messenger. The seed is the Word of God. The soil clearly represents those who need the Word of God. Now who is the main character of this parable? I believe it’s the soil, because Jesus invests most of His thinking toward the soil and the impact quality of the soil has on receiving the seed. The soil is the main character, yet which of these 3 characters do most churches, Bible schools and mission agencies focus nearly all their time and training on?

Consider, generally speaking as believers…

  • We go to church and hear sermons
  • We go to Sunday school
  • We attend seminars
  • We study the Bible

And then as we prepare to do B4T

  • We go to seminary
  • We learn a business or a job skill
  • We learn the language
  • We learn how to be contextualized
  • We study the holy books of the people
  • We go to more seminars
  • We learn various evangelism and church planting tools (the 4 Spiritual Laws, Blackaby, our testimony, the Bridge Illustration, DMM, T4T, Camel Method, Storytelling… I could go on)

Notice the focus here. All of these efforts are designed to help the sower – you and me. Each of these learning experiences is designed to draw us closer to God, plus help us to fit in better with, understand, and be understood better by the people God’s told us to reach. All these things are good. All of them are important. But who is the main character in this parable? THE SOIL. Not one of these things makes an iota of impact on the quality of the soil in preparation for receiving the seed. So may I ask, Are we neglecting something in our preparation and training for reaching peoples for Jesus?

I was sitting in the living room of a farmer’s home in Illinois, looking out over his farm. I praying over this parable of the sower when I asked the Master, “Why would a sower, an experienced professional sower, sow seed on hard ground? Rocky ground? And weedy ground?  And you know what His answer was?

A good sower would never sow on such ground. That’s the point of the parable!

So do we abandon working with peoples who are hard? Absolutely not! Yet what we need to learn is to plough.

Before we go into the fields to sow, we must go into the fields and plough.

I have been researching ploughing the past 5 months and I’ve been learning some things which I intend to share over the next few weeks. However, first, I’d like your input. What are some things you are doing to change people’s attitudes about Jesus? What’s working in your B4T work, to open hearts and minds to the seed of the Good News? What are you doing that moves people toward Jesus? I look forward to hearing from you.




PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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