We are entering the rainy season here in my country in the Middle East.
I love rain.
The sound of it (my kids and I are great fans of rainfall white noise while falling asleep at night), the smell of wet fresh earth after rain, the way it makes everything green again, and how my toddler and I can watch the huge snails that slime about in our apartment block garden after it rains.
Yes, friends, this is a story about rain.
Last week I got to sit in a cafe with a friend I know from my son’s school and a believing friend from our church (known as Abla, meaning ‘big sister’). My friend, let’s call her Poppy, had agreed to meet with us to hear Abla’s story of how she came to faith.
Now my language is pretty good, but as Abla and Poppy chatted away amicably in the local language, I think I grasped 80% of it. I understood enough to hear that Abla was pretty direct with Poppy about the gospel- some would say insensitively so- but my friend seemed to take it well, so I mostly just listened and prayed, sipping my hot Americano.
We even prayed together at the end of our time together- including Poppy! And aside from Abla calling my friend by the wrong name a few times: ‘Rain,’ a popular lady’s name here, everything seemed to have gone pretty well.
I went on my way, encouraged. I pondered how I might have gone about sharing differently but how it had been a blessing not to be the foreigner doing all the talking and to listen to a local believer share her faith.
A few days went past.
Saturday morning, Poppy’s name popped up in WhatsApp notifications.
I felt a lump in my throat as I read Poppy’s message.
It read along these lines:
‘Hi, how are you? Since we met with Abla (big sister) last week, I’ve felt really uncomfortable. Abla was very disrespectful, telling me what she believed was the only way and that everything I believed was a lie. I never want to go to your church! I never want to investigate Christianity again. I only met with Abla because I was your friend, and you arranged it, and I never want to see her again!
Gutted. Devastated even.
That the way Abla spoke about faith had not only alienated Poppy from exploring faith but may have also cost me my friendship with her.
I felt so disappointed. Crushed. Afraid even.
As I processed what happened with my husband and friends during a forest walk that afternoon, we recalled again that the soil we are turning over here in the Middle East is hard soil.
And Satan would love to do anything to stop the Kingdom of God from advancing here.
At that moment, the heavens opened, and it started pouring rain. We stood, with five sodded kids between us, huddled under a tree, and began to pray.
Just as the rain pounded through the canopy of the trees and soaked the land, we cried out for God to water our country To bring forth spiritual life for many to come to know their Saviour- including Poppy.
That evening I messaged my mentor in the UK to share with her and ask for prayer. The reply:
‘Ah. Now I know why God had me read Isaiah 55 last night:’
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it, without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55: 10-11)
I was so encouraged! God knew I loved the rain, and he used the rain to speak to me about Poppy 3 times:
1. When Abla kept calling Poppy ‘Rain’ by mistake
2. He sent physical rain to get us to pray
3. And finally, through His word.
Isaiah 55 is an invitation for the thirsty (go and read the whole passage!) Not everyone will thirst for Jesus in these dry and parched lands. And I may be rejected for sharing that water with people. I may even lose friends and be hated.
But nothing and no one, not even Satan, can stop God’s rain from watering seeds planted for his gospel because His word cannot return empty!
This morning, an Abi of ours (big brother) serving here asked for prayer for a group leader, let’s call him David, in a discipleship-making movement here. David is not in a good place right now, and the enemy is trying to take him down. Our Abi was feeling disappointed and discouraged. I was able to share my small but encouraging rain story with him and remind him that God is in control, not us:
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55: 8-9)
Even when it seems to be going very wrong with Poppy or our DMM leader, we pray.
We pray for God’s rain to fall and, like in the parable of the sower, that we would find GOOD SOIL. The good soil is hearts that hold onto the Word of God and produce much fruit.
If you’ve read this today, would you take 2 minutes to pray for us?
Pray for Poppy’s heart to be transformed into good soil and for David that he would stand firm in his faith.
Pray for me, my husband, and our co-labouring Abis and Ablas to draw near to God in times of disappointment.
Pray for the rain of God to continue to soak our lands and for life to come forth.