Missionary David Seamands had a very exciting and productive ministry in India. He was born there to missionary parents. He went to college in the States and returned to India and become a missionary himself. After about three years he was assigned to the little village of Yadgiri, a remote and difficult assignment. This area was mostly Hindu or Muslim. It had a Christian population of just over 1%.
He was not looking forward to this assignment and was even advised by friends to resign rather than to “lower himself” by being removed from a vibrant ministry, but he heeded the wishes (orders) of the higher ups in the mission, packed up his family and went to Yadgiri.
Their move into a little bungalow coincided with the beginning of the monsoon season, when the streets turn to mud and even become small rivers. But this year (1957) the monsoon was unusually long and strong. It became a flood and the Seamands were basically trapped in their little hut. It rained for 40 days! (Sound Biblical?)
David was frustrated and stressed. Had God called him here, with all of his knowledge of the culture and education and his experience in missions, to sit in a small little bunagalow and do nothing? “God, why did you bring me here? Did I miss your call? Was I disobedient? So many people need to hear the Gospel and I am stuck in this little hut.”
During this 40 day period of isolation David read the Bible, prayed, prepared sermons… complained to his wife and to God, paced the floor…
According to David’s son, Steve, (I called him to refresh my memory) it was right about this time that David “heard” the voice of God:
“You take care of the depth of your ministry and I’ll take care of the breadth.”
From that point on, Seamands immersed himself in reading, praying and trying to stay positive. He even read a couple of novels, including, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The rains ended, the streets dried up, and ministry began again for David and his team.
Many years later (neither his son nor I could remember how many) David was counselling a student who was no admirer of Christianity or the Bible. In the course of the conversation the fairly brilliant student challenged this pastor that he considered out of touch with the real world: “You’ve probably never read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand,” the student spouted out confidently.
“As a matter of fact, I have,” David countered, and went on to give the shocked student a summary of the book that he had read during a monsoon. The student was so stunned that he actually listened to an explanation of the gospel. He didn’t commit his life to Jesus at that session, but his mind was opened because years before a discouraged young missionary began to “…take care of the depth of his ministry…”
Before I called David Seamands’ son, I texted Florida pastor, Rural Ausley, my college roommate, to see if he remembered that quote. Here is part of his response: “.Yes, I remember… he told me that he developed material during that time that he was still using years later. That quote has haunted me my entire ministry! In a good way, mostly.”
Take care of the depth of your relationship with the Lord. He will take care of the breadth.