From “Failure” to Fruitfulness
“Sometimes what we call ‘failure’ is really just that necessary struggle called ‘learning.’” – Unknown
Sometimes the most spectacular failures produce the most important lessons.
Several years ago, I was invited to go on a mission trip to Kenya. The primary purpose of the trip was to help the local churches grow through door-to-door evangelism.
I knew the Lord was calling me to go on this trip because of the providential way everything came together, including the timing of the trip and the resources that were provided for me to go. I was convinced that the Lord arranged everything.
After arriving and getting settled in, we broke up into teams of 2-3 along with an interpreter. I found myself struggling to share my faith. My words never seemed to flow properly. I felt like a nuisance rather than a help to the team. At the end of the first week, I felt like the trip was an absolute failure and disaster. I wondered why I came and if God had really called me on this trip.
Then I got sick. I caught a stomach bug which knocked me off my feet for 14 hours. I was physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. I had hit rock bottom.
The interesting things about hitting rock bottom is…
that it is a great place to build a foundation on which to build.At 4am, I awoke and began praying fervently to the Lord. I told the Lord that if there was any evangelism that was going to be done through me, HE would have to do it.
I committed myself to Him afresh, letting Him know that I would be looking to Him for direction for every move I made the next day. I bathed every step in prayer, walking in complete dependence.
That next day and the rest of the trip, I experienced a newfound freedom as I shared Christ. I began to see fruit as the people I shared with trusted Christ or were encouraged in their faith. It was a complete 180 turn in results, but most importantly in my heart and mind.
I saw how God had gone before me, preparing hearts for the message. I experienced God’s power working through me as I shared the clear and simple gospel. And I felt the Lord doing a work in me as well. I believe my “failure” was orchestrated by Him to bring me to my knees in dependence and shape my view of Him and His ways.
The primary lesson I learned on that trip is…
the Holy Spirit is THE evangelist! He uses people to accomplish His purposes, but He is the one orchestrates opportunities (Acts 10), convicts of sin (John 16:8), speaks through our words (Matthew 10:20), and works in the heart of the hearer (Acts 16:14).
All He asks us to do is trust and obey.
As someone has aptly said, it is not so much about our ability, but our availability. God is more than sufficient to work through anyone surrendered to Him. While we might not observe immediate results, we can know that we are being used by God in the lives of the persons we encounter.
This is why Paul declared that his own evangelism efforts were, “not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
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