Deer in the headlights—that was probably my look many years ago the first time I was translating in front of a large audience. A seminary leader from Ecuador was giving a testimony to a full house of One Mission Society friends and supporters in Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury University. He was expressing gratitude for the many people whose partnership through scholarship funding had made his own studies possible and those of the current generation of seminary students. All was going well. I was understanding him clearly and able to translate his words and ideas into smooth English—until it happened. All of a sudden, he dropped the bomb that every translator fears, an idiomatic expression that I’d never heard before. Although I understood the literal meaning of his words, I was left silently grasping for their significance in this particular context.
What he said was, No han echado la semilla en saco roto (“you have not thrown the seed into a torn sack”). What he meant was, “Your investment in me (and in the other students) was not in vain.” Those words were rolling around in my brain during the recent trip to Ecuador. Every day of those two weeks was a gift—daily glimpses of not-in-vain investments, strung together like a string of precious pearls. I saw the fruit of seeds that had been sown, seeds that had not been tossed into torn sacks, but into receptive lives. Former students are now teachers, pastors, and denominational leaders. Women who were mentored are now mentoring. People who were prayed for have become powerful prayer warriors. Words that were spoken under the direction of the Holy Spirit are continuing to be formative.
God wastes nothing, especially not our investment into the spiritual lives of his children. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (NRSV). That is a promise we can count on! Let’s go—let’s make those investments for eternity!
By Rachel Coleman, OMS Missionary, Theological Education Team