Planting seeds.

I was listening to a broadcast on Facebook by Chris Packham. At one point mid-sentence he said “Buzzard”, pointed off to his right and then carried on where he had left off. Later he did it again when a greenfinch landed on his bird feeder, except of course this time he shouted “Greenfinch” He later talked of what he termed “Bird Watchers Tourette’s”.

I know I do it too when I’m out and about, or in the car. There’s no introduction to the topic and it can happen mid conversation. It can go something like this “Do you fancy a coffee, swift, at the next service station?” or “The service was good on, merlin, Sunday wasn’t it?” Birding is my passion and so I notice them even when I’m not looking.

The ice-breaker, the bit that no one likes but course facilitators feel we all have to do, at a recent course had a number of parts to it. We were to get in to groups of three and we had 2 minutes each to talk about where you come from and what your city is famous for. We then moved to different people and talked about something else, and so on. But it was the last 2 groups which astonished me. Firstly we had to talk about something we were passionate about without mentioning God, church, the Bible or mission. The people I was with had nothing to contribute. They were not passionate about anything except God, church, Bible and mission. Following on from that we were to talk, in a new group, about what we did that brought us in to contact with those who are not yet Christians. Again, neither person I was with had anything to offer. Their whole life was church based. They were retired and did lots in church and longed for new people to come to Christ but they didn’t meet people outside of church.

The course leader then spoke of how can we “do” mission if we only ever meet Christians, if we have no passions to talk to others about?

On one occasion in Norfolk in spring Colin became mesmerised by the numbers of different birds in from of us; by their beauty and songs. Suddenly, quite loudly he said “And some people believe that this all happened by accident.” A few people looked across at him. Now you may not say that what he did was mission and was of little value, but, some of those people may have given some thought to what he said – a seed had been planted; the first thing is to plant a seed.

A few years ago I was in Leighton Moss bird reserve when a lady fell. I hadn’t seen her fall but became aware of her in the queue for lunch. She obviously wasn’t managing to hold a tray. I offered to put her lunch on my tray and carry both to a table where she invited me to join her. We talked about the birds we had seen that morning and those we had missed. We talked about where we lived and then I looked at her arm which was very swollen and I suggested that she visit A and E. I explained that I was an ex nurse. Her response was “What a coincidence meeting a nurse on the one day I fell.” I simply replied, without stopping to think, “As a Christian I don’t believe in coincidences.” What followed was a conversation about Jesus, about my faith and about God’s love for his creation and people. I wasn’t able to take this lady home but she phoned her husband and I went home. I don’t know whether what we talked about had any effect on that lady. Did she think any more about what we’d talked about? She had asked a lot of questions. I probably will never know but each time I think of her I remember her in prayer. Each time I visit Leighton Moss I am reminded of her and our conversation that day.

So a simple statement of praise or a statement of belief said from the heart in front of strangers can plant a seed and we don’t need to know what the outcome is.

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