When we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

For many years it was believed that Dr. David Livingstone, famed missionary to Africa, had just one convert. The man was a chief from Botswana named Sechele whom Livingstone wrote off, stating that the chief had backslidden. Sechele, however, might in fact have been one of Africa’s greatest evangelists. Missionaries arriving to work with the Zulu Ndebele tribe in 1859 were surprised to find that they already practiced regular Christian prayers. Sechele had taught them to read the Bible and many of the Bakwena had become believers in Jesus.
Paul commended the believers in Thessalonica with whom he had spent only a few weeks before fleeing to Berea (Acts 17:1-10). Out of concern for the young church, he sent Timothy to see how they were doing (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5). Paul was overjoyed to hear that despite persecution, they had remained strong (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14), growing in their faith, love, and hope (1 Thessalonians 2:3,6-7). Although he had to warn the believers of the dangers of sexual immorality and correct some views of the resurrection and the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8,13–5:11), Paul was immensely proud of the growing church (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
We can despair at times when our attempts to bring someone to salvation comes to nothing. Paul reminds us, however, that some will plant, some will water, and some will reap, but it is God who makes the seed grow (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).
Paul was overjoyed to learn that the Thessalonian church was thriving, and David Livingstone will likely be surprised at the harvest that came from his witness in Africa. One day, may we also experience joy and amazement when we see who is in heaven as a result of God using our witness for Him.

This first appeared in “Our Daily Journey” (http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/).

Surprise!