First, I became a Christian largely through a youth group that I attended in my middle school years. My parents who are Christians took me there and it was clear that God ordained a path for me to meet the Eternal and have that all too beautiful life change that only He can do. What you can trace this back to is that my dad was allowed to go to youth group in his younger days.The interesting thing is that my grandfather, an immigrant and life long Buddhist from Japan was OK with this. Why would he be OK with this? His response was to the effect, "No religion bad." Reading my family history I found out that some unknown Methodist missionary visited the fishing village of Hiroamachi on the Inland Sea in Japan. His name is lost in the annals of time. His immediate impact was probably minimal as Japan is one of the most difficult places to evangelize. But there must be something powerful in how this missionary behaved. Obviously, he carried the Message that never ceases to leave an impact. It clearly spoke enough to my grandfather since he was OK with my dad attending Sunday School and going to youth camp.
The cool thing is that I receive the benefit of this man's faith. Who knows if anyone remembers his name. Who knows if even his descendants even know of his impact. But his faith has made a difference. So here I am living in the Knoxville, TN saved by the Amazing Grace of an amazing God and the faithfulness of a nineteenth century missionary to Japan. My deepest gratefulness goes to this missionary who probably toiled in a difficult environment with possibly little fruit for him to see. But his impact touched me. One thing I will do when we get to heaven is to find this man and thank him for his faithfulness.
So to all who toil in some times difficult and trying circumstances in ministry. I say keep it up. Perhaps even those who don't come to the Savior will end up saying their own version of "No religion bad," and it impacts someone you never personally encounter. In the end we'll all be very thankful and glorify the amazing work the God is doing.