by Erica Hale
It’s Springtime in the Rockies, time to plan and plant a garden. And I’m thinking about seeds. How each year, it seems a miracle that you can plant such a small thing and harvest such an abundance, year after year after year.
The Lord came into a world full of farmers and fishermen, and He spoke their language. His stories are full of seeds and nets, which the people understood and could identify with. So back in October, when Emily and I planned to travel to Uganda, the 100 audio Bibles (in 4 African languages) became seeds in my mind. Seeds of faith, waiting to be sown in places where they haven’t heard the Word of God in the language of their hearts.
But in October, the airline said we could take just 20 of the Bibles. Phone calls were made, emails were exchanged, I tried desperately to change minds but 20 was the number that stood.
And then, my entire family came down with Covid, and instead of traveling to Uganda, I stayed home with a heavy heart and a box of Bibles that seemed impossible to transport.
Emily went alone. And in October the field of Uganda lay barren and bleak, full of weeds and devastation. The locusts of Covid and lockdowns and desperation seemed to have mowed down all that the Lord had planted there, and it seemed impossible that anything could grow in soil so thick with thorns and dry with drought.
Below the surface, the seeds that had been planted were putting down roots. The dead field above showed no signs of what was happening, but miracles were taking place where no one could see. The seeds were being watered in prayer, their roots stretching out in soil enriched with the tears of the sower and the grace of the One who makes all things beautiful in His perfect time.
Another trip was scheduled for March.
This time, the airline approved all 100 Bible players! They were packed in borrowed suitcases, prayed over. A box of print Bibles was packed for the journey as well. “May the Lord show you as many miracles in one short week as you would’ve seen in a month,” my daughters prayed before I left.
We’re at the airport in Entebbe, and it’s past Midnight. The box of print Bibles has been lost, and I’ve been filling out a mountain of paperwork in hopes that when (or if) it’s found, the Bibles will get to the places they’re meant to go.
In customs, I hold my breath as the suitcase full of audio Bibles in 4 African languages goes through the x-ray machine. The man running the machine demands that I open the case and show him what’s inside. He points to the x-ray which does, to be honest, look suspicious. We are the last people in the airport, it’s way past quitting time, and he’s not in the mood to humor a stranger coming to his country with a suitcase full of who-knows-what.
I explain that they’re audio Bibles. I unzip the case, say a prayer for favor and beg God to let the Bibles through, so they can go to people who are hungry to hear the Word in their own language. I reach in and pull out a player, open the package, and show it to him.
He’s not convinced. “Show me,” he demands, pointing to the player. So I hit play, and echoing through the empty airport a voice starts to read the Bible aloud in Acholi, spoken by a few tribes in South Sudan and Northern Uganda.
In an instant, his face changes. A look of wonder comes over him, his eyes soften and for the first time, he turns and looks right at me.
“This is my language,” he says. “How did you know my language?”
Now, the other customs officers are interested. “Do you have one in Swahili?” someone asks, and we tell them that we brought print Bibles in that language, but they’re in the box that was lost.
But before we finish zipping up the suitcases, a man shows up with the lost box of Bibles… one of which goes to the officer before we are finally on our way.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” -John 12:24, NLT
We’ve been through a season of dying, of being planted in the deep dark soil where all we can do is cling to the hope of Spring and trust in the One who causes growth to do what only He can do.
And today, the seeds that died are producing a hundredfold. The shoots of a plentiful harvest are bursting through the fertile soil of Uganda… workers are being trained for the harvest, hearts are being made ready, and fruit is budding on the vine.
The miracle of Spring is happening, friends. And we are blessed to be watching it unfold.
This post is the first in a series about our March trip to Uganda. We will be sharing more in the weeks to come.