When Edmund Branch arrived in China, in 1899, he had such high hopes. The young missionary had dreams of converting all of China to Christianity. Edmond spent twenty years learning the many different dialects of the people, and he gave thousands of sermons. He was well known, and loved, by everyone who knew him.
When "Fa-dil," as the Reverend Father was known, arrived in a town, the whole village turned out, and they shared with him, all that they had. Edmund was often reminded of the "Widow's Mite," the parable that Jesus spoke of, where the rich came to the Temple and offered great wealth, asking for God's favor. Then a widow came and gave a paltry sum, but Jesus said that she gave the greatest gift, because she gave "all that she had." So, were the Chinese people to Father Edmund Branch. They gave him all they had.
In spite of his popularity throughout the villages, Edmund was despondent. In the twenty years that he spent, preaching in China, he had only one convert, a young boy of humble birth. He became Fa-dil's assistant, lighting candles on the altar of the primitive church, and serving as his altar boy. In that time the young man got married, and his wife converted, but no one else converted to Father's faith. They remained Buddhist. Finally Father "Fa-dil" gave up, in despair, and he returned home. He was a failure, and everyone knew it.
For forty-five more years Edmund served in obscure parishes, this humble missionary, who served God without a single convert. Finally, at the age of eighty-five, Edmond retired from the active priesthood. However, he couldn't resist one last trip to China, and to the village where he had baptized that one young boy. Fa-dil stepped out of the Twentieth Century automobile
and into the era of yesterday, when he had first placed his foot on the soil that was China. He had wired ahead, the time of his arrival.
An old man stepped forward to meet him, bowing with respect, and smiling broadly. Then he ran to embrace the Father, his beloved Fa-dil. Tears rolled down Edmund's face, as he embraced his only convert. Soon the entire village emptied out of the huts, and they all lined up to kiss Fa-dil's hand.
"Fa-dil," said the Chinese elder, "will you baptize my family?" For they had all become Christians, because of their saintly grandfather, who had taught them the Gospel.
"Certainly, I will!" Edmund smiled, thinking ironically, that he'd finally made a couple more converts.
"Where is your family?" Edmund asked, puzzled?
In halting, yet very good English, the, now, much older convert of Edmund, grinned his answer.
"Here they are!" He cried.
His arm swept to include all the smiling faces, who waited to kiss Edmund's hand. Hundreds were lined up, maybe a thousand people, lined up to kiss Edmund's hand and request Baptism. Every person baptized in the following days were all the descendants of the young boy whom Edmund had baptized. You see, Edmund had not been a failure after all. He had merely planted a good seed, and just as Jesus said, he had reaped a thousand-fold.
To the end of his days, Edmund never forgot the day he baptized nearly a thousand people. He cherished the lesson that he had learned. Success is not measured in the amount of the harvest, but in the depth that one sows a good seed.