In preparation for our recent Missions Weekend, I preached a message from John 12:24, "Unless the kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it only remains a single seed, but if it dies, it produces many seeds."
Just about a hundred years ago, the missionaries to west Africa packed all their belongings in a coffin sized box. They left for the field, realizing that there was a good chance they would not return home. Many of them were buried in the box.
My good friend, Nate Yoder, made a box like that for me. We put it in the front of the church.
I told the story of our early Wesleyan missionaries to Sierra Leone. (Paul Shea has a great presentation here. I used some of his insights in my sermon.)
They gave their ALL! They were willing to invest their very lives! They put it ALL in the box! Then I challenged the congregation . . . "What are you willing to give, so others will know about Jesus?"
Unless the kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. . .
Sadly, we had major computer problems, and I could not show the pictures of the missionaries on the big screen. Instead, I taped their pictures to the box.
Last Sunday, when we made our Faith Promise for Missions, I took the lid off the box and everybody came forward and put their commitments inside it. It was a powerful and moving experience.