Extensive or intensive?

In Christ’s public ministry, He was not only healing or preaching to thousands all the time

Jul 29, 2022

                                            Word Made Fresh Nicholas Lye

“What is the kingdom of God like? To what shall we compare it? It is like a mustard seed which, when sown, is the smallest of all the seeds scattered upon the soil. But once sown, it grows up and becomes the largest of the plants in the garden and even grows branches so big that the birds of the air can take shelter in its shade.” (Mk 4:30-32)

When I was young, I used to dream of being like Michael Jackson, singing and dancing in front of a crowd, and inspiring millions of lives through music and dance. As I grew older, I held the same desire to make an impact in God’s kingdom in an extensive way: whether by speaking to thousands through a homily or keynote address, or by inspiring thousands more through videos and podcasts. Yet in my current journey as a lay missionary, where I find myself running workshops and retreats for a small handful of people, or journeying and ministering to people on the ground one on one, it can feel like my impact and reach has not been as extensive as I had hoped for.

During a recent prayer-through-art workshop, I had invited participants to bring their desires to the Lord through drawing and allow God to speak to them through their creative process. Participating in the prayer activity myself, I felt inspired to draw a flame — to reflect my burning desire to make an impact in God’s kingdom in an extensive way, spreading the fire of His love in a widespread manner to thousands of people. Yet, while drawing the image, and focusing on the middle portion of the flame, I started to recall that the hottest part of the fire was in its centre. The further away the flames were from the centre, the less heat they emitted. Through this, God was revealing to me that, while reaching out extensively to thousands or millions can be a worthwhile mission, there can also be great impact in being intensive and personal to those I minister to in a close and intimate setting.


In Christ’s public ministry, He was not only healing or preaching to thousands all the time. Part of His ministry also included going to the outskirts where not many are found, and reaching out intensively and personally to those who needed that close and personal touch. In a similar way, I have also come to appreciate the small numbers that I minister to, for it gives me that intensive time and space to really be present to each person’s personal situation and needs and offer the gift of my time, presence and self to them in a way that deeply ministers to them.

I remember a couple of times when only one person would show up for my workshop, yet it eventually proved to offer such a safe space for them to pour out their personal lives and be ministered to by the session, that I saw how God loved them so much as to offer a private and intensive session for them through me.

I also recall how one of the only two participants who applied for the School of Mission last year remarked that she was surprised that we would still continue running a five-month programme just for the both of them. And because of that intensive and personal time spent journeying with them, so much transformation took place in their lives that, till today, they are ever so grateful for what we offered to them in such a personal and intensive manner.

In other words, we too can be providing shade for others to a very large extent through these deeply intensive and personal encounters.


The other insight that God revealed through my drawing was that, before I dream of being extensive in my outreach and mission, I am invited to first consider being intensive in my inner work and conviction. Just as how Jesus spent 30 years of intensive preparation and training being embarking on His extensive public ministry, so too am I invited to take the time for my own deeper work and growth.

Indeed, apart from my public work and ministry, God has been constantly inviting me to make time for myself, and leading me to deeper healing and development in different areas of my personal and spiritual life. God desires for me to be more intensively convicted of His love and truths before I can more extensively spread His love and truth to those around me.

As I felt prompted to turn my drawing upside down, I began to see the image of a heart, with roots growing out from it, reminding me of God’s invitation to allow the mustard seed of my heart to grow deep roots into the soil of His love and truth, so that from it, I may then intensively provide shade to those whom the Lord sends into my life, regardless of whether they number to a thousand, or just that one lost sheep.

In God’s kingdom, we can each be extensive in our outreach, by being intensive in our own personal growth, and in the way that we reach out to others in our own personal and intimate way.

(Nicholas Lye now delights in creating safe creative spaces for individuals or small groups where they may receive extensive shade through deeply personal and intensive encounters with the Lord.)

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FAITH TOHtohfaith@gmail.com
Hi Nicholas Everytime we do a 1 to 1 meet up, you let me know. . God is ministering privately to me through u!