My heart leaped when I read her words written in glitter marker. Was she writing a prayer asking Jesus for forgiveness? She cut and re-pasted the paper to hide the name of Jesus, shy to share this decision with the group. God had been faithful in His promise to bring children in our midst in this neighbourhood. Could this be the first fruits of unanticipated faith?
When I think of fruit from my various homes—mangos, jackfruit, passionfruit, rambutan, lychee, carambola, guyabano, dates, pineapple, tree tomatoes—I recall different celebrations, memories, and people. I rejoice that none, but God, is responsible in bringing sweet life out of a dead seed.
I rejoice at what Jesus has been cultivating in Spain. Sometimes the concept of people as “fruit” disconcerts me, and I am more comfortable thinking of the fruits Spirit produces—love, joy, peace, patience. . . Perhaps I feel trapped when I imagine my efforts could win “fruit” into the Kingdom (convert someone). My motives need to come from somewhere other than personal abilities or pride. If I am to bear fruit, I must first abide in the Vine.
Through the resurrection, Jesus himself became our first fruit provided by the Father (I Corinthians 15). He offered Himself up so many could be drawn to Him. This was demonstrated by the miraculous catch resulting from obedience to His command—to cast the net on the other side. And when I see it is His doing to create fruit, then I am motivated even more by His love to reap the harvest.
Upon moving back to Spain, God has advised me not to teach yet. A “Sabbath from teaching” has felt strange but has resulted in far more fruit (spiritual awakening in myself and in these girls). The past six years had been spent teaching, but very few responded to the Word. Allowing God to bring the fruit seems counterintuitive, as I am accustomed to working according to my own understanding: “Lord, we have fished all night.” Now it’s time to do things a new way.
The art club involves laying out supplies, reading a verse or story, and closing with a blessing. No elaborate planning. Simplicity. We spent two weeks anticipating members, but none came. My teammate encouraged me to go out with flyers and invite girls from a local school. In one parable, the designated dinner guests could not come, so those from every street corner were ushered in. A handful of girls have been attending for three months now and bringing friends. We rejoice. My own lesson plans could not have anticipated or planned for their spiritual questions and desire for forgiveness. Yes, Jesus truly is drawing all unto Himself. Will I learn to rest in Him, then go out into the roads and invite more in? It is God who works in me to will and to act according to His purposes. I will celebrate the first fruits He produces with open hands.