Mustard plants grow abundantly on the Galilean hillsides today. In springtime, when the bright yellow flowers are blooming, fields of wild mustard plants stirring in a gentle breeze are quite mesmerizing.
Most natives, though, think of a mustard plant as a common weed. It is so prolific that it is a nuisance which is nearly impossible to get rid of, our guide told us on our recent trip to Israel.
Jesus refers to a “mustard seed faith” twice — in Matthew 17 and Luke 17. In both instances, he uses a hyperbole to tell his disciples that “nothing will be impossible for you,” if you only have a little faith. But the emphasis should not be placed on the quantity of our faith, but on the incalculable, astounding power of God when we humbly allow Him to use our lives and talents for His Kingdom.
As I held the tiniest of seeds in my hand, I looked out across a hillside bountiful with mustard plants, which I’m told can grow up to 9 feet tall and provide ample shade for wild creatures and birds. I could easily grasp what Jesus was saying about the amount of faith needed to see God do amazing things, like remove figurative mountains and trees from our paths.
As one writer has put it: “Don’t ask for a great faith so that we can do great things — ask for faith the size of a mustard seed so that we can see God do great things!” Like that mustard seed I held may grow one day into a plant that spreads its seeds across an entire valley and beyond, our little faith and actions today could help spread the Kingdom of God and affect countless others for generations to come. Staggering thought, isn’t it?
Why do I bring up Jesus’ parable of a mustard seed? The Western Recorder needs you, our faithful readers, so that we can continue doing the good work that He began in us “until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). For nearly two centuries, the news journal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Western Recorder, has been the principal means of transmitting news of vital interest among Kentucky Baptists. Western Recorder continues its treasured tradition today — both in print and to a wider audience online through digital issues, a website, FaceBook page and social media.
Many of our stories often are “mustard seeds,” through which readers are encouraged in their faith walks and are inspired to launch out in new ministries, such as disaster relief efforts, building or repairing homes through Kentucky Changers, or feeding the homeless and hungry in their communities.
They hear of Kentucky Baptists’ compassion work with hurting and abused children through Sunrise Children Services and of our efforts to provide a quality, Christian education for mountain kids at Oneida Baptist Institute, for young adults at the University of the Cumberlands, and for future ministers and missionaries at Clear Creek Bible College. They discover opportunities to attend camps and retreats offered by Crossings Ministries, and they find ways to be involved in missions through Baptist campus ministries and Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union.
One reader, for example, said she began making teddy bears for children in crisis to be distributed by police chaplains to remind them of God’s love during difficult times. Others began sewing ministries to make blankets for newborns and quilts for the elderly. Testimonies like these convey a love for the paper’s ministry and great gratitude for its service to Kentucky Baptists, and they are an affirmation that the Lord has much more for the paper to accomplish “until the day of Jesus Christ.”
But the financial obstacles of ever-rising publishing and mailing costs are, indeed, mountainous in our path, and subscription revenues only go so far. We are trying to be good stewards of our responsibility to the Lord and to Kentucky Baptists by attempting to ease our dependency on cooperative missions giving. We would be humbled if several hundred Kentucky Baptists would send “mustard seed” gifts of $10, $25, $35, $50, $75 or more to support their paper’s ministry through its endowment fund or to help offset operating expenses. Certainly, we appreciate any support you can provide.
Endowment earnings and other financial gifts will strengthen our newspaper, increase its vital influence among Kentucky Baptists, and help ensure the good work He began in the Western Recorder will continue “until the day of Jesus Christ.” A convenient form is provided on our website, westernrecorder.org, to send with your tax-deductible donation, on which you may specify contributions in honor of a family member, pastor, church, editor or others who have been blessed by the paper’s ministry.