Last month, I went on my first mission trip. It was a great experience. (Why did I wait until age 30 to try this?!) I went to Kolkata, India, for two weeks with a group of 15 people from my church, and we worked together with Bengali Christians at the Grace Community Centre in Kolkata. We taught computer and English classes. We helped run a daycare and VBS. We went on a boat to the Sundarban islands where we acted out Bible stories, sang songs in Bengali, and preached Jesus to people who have never heard of Him.
Our trip allowed several free days, and our hosts graciously drove us around the city to for some shopping and sightseeing . We saw everything from Mother Teresa’s hospital to the Kali Temple, where people still make goat sacrifices to the Hindus’ gods.
We also went to the botanical gardens to see The Great Banyan Tree. This 250-year-old tree holds the world record for the largest canopy of a single tree, covering almost four acres. It spreads as the high branches send shoots downward, which take root and eventually become supporting trunks. A road was built around the circumference of the tree, but branches have since reached across the road and grown new trunks in an ever-widening circle. Today there are about 3600 interconnected trunks, all supporting one broad, leafy canopy.
The growing Banyan tree reminded me of the reason we went to India: to share the gospel with new people and help make disciples for Jesus. This is how God works. Slowly but surely, the gospel is preached, churches are planted, and people find true life as God’s plan for the world unfolds.
Sadly, the original trunk in the center of the Banyan tree was removed due to disease almost 100 years ago. But the tree keeps spreading in all directions, thanks to the new roots and trunks that keep on growing.
In a way, this reminds me of how God can work through faithful parents. One father who loves his children and points them to Jesus can have a huge impact on future generations. You and I will be long gone 250 years from now, but God willing, there will be thousands of Christians in the world who can trace their heritage back to us and see fathers who loved Jesus and faithfully made disciples of our children.