The Apples in a Seed
If you show people an apple and ask what they are thinking, they would likely
say, “I’m hungry.”
Slice an apple and ask them what they see. They will probably reply,
Most people see little value in seeds. They just eat their apples and toss the core into
If you were to cut open an apple and show it to Jesus, he would see more than something
to eat. He would see the seeds, but more importantly, he would see trees in those seeds and in
the trees, he would see more apples with more seeds -- entire orchards, in fact!
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but
only God knows
how many apples are in a seed
Fruit and Seed in the Bible
The Bible has much to say about seed and most of it is positive, but many people
today don't like seed. They prefer seedless melons and oranges and if they had
their way, they would eliminate seeds altogether. Many don't even want children
so abortions are common.
When God created the earth, he declared that all seed-bearing herbs and fruit
were for human consumption (Genesis 1:29).
Adam and Eve were commanded to be fruitful and multiply. Noah likewise. God promised Abraham that in his seed,
all the earth would be blessed. He covenanted with David, that a Savior of the world would come from his seed.
In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), some seed withered and died or was choked by weeds, but other seed fell
on good soil, grew and produced much fruit. The sower's objective was not
getting rid of seed, but discovering fruitful soil and reaping a bountiful
In John 12:24 Jesus speaks of the kernel of wheat which dies and is buried in the
ground in order to produce much fruit.
John 15 gives us the parable of the vine and the branches, in which we are to produce fruit, more fruit, much fruit
and lasting fruit ("that remaineth").
In Mark 4:30-32, Jesus spoke of a tiny mustard seed that grew into a huge tree. He said that the kingdom
of God is like that!
The principle of multiplication can be recognized in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20. Jesus prayed for his
disciples, but not just for them. He also prayed for all those who would believe on Him through their testimony.
He was praying for me and for you.
The Apostle Paul understood the multiplication principle in his mentoring relationships.
He commanded Timothy to teach what he had learned from him to other faithful men
who, in turn, would be able to teach others (II Timothy 2:2).
The apostle gave an excellent example of that multiplication process in I Thessalonians 1:6-8. He praised the
Thessalonians for following his example in spite of persecution. They had become role models for
all the believers in Macedonia, in Achaia, and everywhere else people heard about their faith.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, that God had given them seed, not only for their own nourishment and enjoyment,
but also for planting. Their fruit was to multiply and increase (I Corinthians 9:10).
We can enjoy our salvation, but we should be careful to plant the seed and share with others.
What would it be like if people would plant one seed from each apple they ate? There would soon be forests of apple trees!
This is also true of the spiritual multiplication process. We enjoy God's
bountiful blessings, but do we share them with others?
America and Apples
The old adage, "An apple a day keeps the Doctor away" may be an overstatement but throughout the ages, people
have known that eating apples is healthy for you. Scientists and nutritionists have studied the apple and a
whole field of study called "pomology" has emerged. More and more evidence is piling up in support of the apple.
It is low in calories and high in fiber, especially important in today’s fast-paced society. And there is
absolutely no sodium or cholesterol in apples. So, you can munch apples to your "hearts" content!
If you ask anyone on the street to name a food specialty of Italy, Germany, France or Japan, they could probably
give you a quick reply. Ask them to name an American food specialty, and there is hesitation or silence.
Hamburgers and frankfurters may be quite popular, but they are clearly of German origin and consumed with
French fries. There are pizzerias everywhere, but everyone knows that pizza is Italian.
Nutrition experts have conjectured that succotash and apple pie may be the only true food specialties of American
origin, and succotash originated with native Americans.
New York City is called “The Big Apple” and few New Yorkers can tell you why. I
have been told that the phrase was coined by big bands that played on Broadway.
They referred to cities as apples and New York was "the big apple."
In the late seventies, a couple of youth, both named Steve, started building computers in a garage. When the
question arose what to call them, Steve Jobs took a “byte” out of his apple and gave it an all-American name.
America loves apples!
Apples are very American and to a large extent, we can thank the legendary Johnny Appleseed
(read his story at the end of this article) for this fact. John Chapman (few
people knew his real name) was born September 26, 1774, two years before our
nation was founded. He roamed all over the untamed continent, planting apple
trees and lauding the nutritional value of its fruit.
Another American, Malcom Little (as with Johnny Appleseed, his last name is hardly known), was famous for
his statement, "Violence is as American as apple pie." Better known as Malcom X, he became a leader of the
"Nation of Islam" and an outspoken champion of black nationalism. Unfortunately, Malcom X became a victim
of the violence he championed in 1964.
America has a rich spiritual heritage. We are indebted to God and the founders of our great nation to pass
this heritage on to our children, our neighbors and to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, most Americans
are obsessed with "getting" and a few resort to violent means in order to get what they want. We need a new
generation of Johnny Appleseeds, who share their blessings and spread the good seed of God’s Word.
Lloyd Mattson published
a book in 1983 titled, The Apples in a Seed. It was the story of Camp Haluwasa, located in Hammonton,
New Jersey. Camp founder, Charlie Ashmen, unpacked the first box of books at a Haluwasa
men’s banquet. He took out the first copy, signed it and called one of the
guests to the front of the hall. Charlie then turned to the audience and
introduced his unsuspecting guest,
"This is one of the first seeds germinated by the Holy Spirit at Camp Haluwasa
in 1956. On page 64 of this book, under the heading, 'Campers of Yesterday,' you
will find Ralph's testimony. Ralph and his wife Verna have served two decades as missionaries
in Europe. I want to present the first copy of this book to Ralph."
Fifty years after Ralph gave his life to Christ at Camp Haluwasa, he too published a book.
Rabban Gamaliel is a biography of the Apostle Paul’s renowned teacher, mentioned only twice in the New
Testament, but recognized by Jews as the greatest Rabbi of all times. Ralph thought it fitting to present the
first copy of his book to Camp Haluwasa in appreciation for the new life he found in Jesus Christ through the
ministry of the camp.
The seed that was sown in the heart of a rebellious teenager back in 1956 soon began to multiply. Ralph became
involved with the church youth. After graduation from college he and his wife began missionary service in
Europe. The seed continued to multiply on that continent.
In Austria, the Harveys planted churches, conducted evangelistic meetings and operated a youth center with a
rehabilitation program for drug addicts.
In 1974, they established a printing and publishing house which produced millions of pieces of literature
used in missions and evangelism. A generous portion of their literature production was smuggled behind the
Iron Curtain into Eastern Europe.
In 1984, they founded the Austrian Bible Institute. Graduates of the ABI are
now serving in churches and missions around the world:
Johann serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Ethiopia. He and his wife have already translated the Bible
into one tribal language and they recently began a new translation project.
Robert is Director of the Swiss
branch of Frontiers, with over 50 workers serving in Muslim lands.
Kurt had a special burden to reach
youth, so Ralph worked with him to establish a youth organization similar to Awana, but more outdoors
orientated. Within a few years, there were 60 clubs in Austria and hundreds of teenagers and young adults had
received quality training as youth leaders. Today, “Juropa” has branched out into 17 nations of Europe and it’s
The Harveys also worked with
refugees, some of whom became followers of Christ. One of these was an Albanian named Arben. After his conversion,
he graduated from the Austrian Bible Institute and returned to Albania to establish a church in the northern city
of Kukes. The church is now autonomous and composed almost entirely of converted Muslims under 30 years of age!
This church made international headlines in 1999, when its members rallied to feed and help 100,000 Kosovo refugees
(Muslims!) who had fled to Albania.
Eternity alone will reveal how much fruit came from one seed that was
germinated at Camp Haluwasa in 1956!
The Most Important Question
Christian friend, you may be enjoying the fruits of your salvation but what
are YOU doing with the precious seed that God has entrusted you with?
The picture at the top of this page shows eight seeds in an apple, but I have been told that there are five seeds
(multipliers) in most apples. They can represent five kinds of missionary service:
- Everyone should be a witness of Christ (Acts 1:8).
- Some are called to career ministry.
- Many Christians are lay workers, serving in churches and in other ways.
- An increasing number of young Christians get involved in short-term mission projects
- Mission trips are another variant
You have heard people say, "You can’t have your cake and eat it too," or "You can’t take it with you."
You can if you obey the Lord's command to share the gospel with others! The more you give, the more you have – and what
you do for the kingdom, you have for eternity!
Seek the kingdom of God and what is right in His eyes. Put His will first in
your life and He will take care of your needs (my
own paraphrase of Matthew 6:33). No matter what your gifts, God can use and multiply you!
1774 - 1845
John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774 near Leominster, Massachusetts. Little is known
of his early life, but he apparently received a good education, which helped him in his later years.
Chapman lived at a time in our nation's history when work and hardships were all most people knew. Many
settlers received land grants, but those who didn't had to find employment wherever it was available. John
found work at a cider press in Ohio. It was there that he began saving the uncrushed apple seeds that he eventually planted
in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. When fertile lands south of the Great Lakes and west of the
Ohio river were opened for settlement in the early 1800's, John Chapman was among the first to explore
the new territory.
John Chapman envisioned great orchards of apple trees, but also individual trees
along roads and between fields which would provide nourishment for weary workers
and travelers. Johnny Appleseed, as he was soon called, worked hard and endured
the hardships of frontier life to fulfill his vision just as the settlers
struggled to stake out homesteads in early America.
For nearly half a century Johnny Appleseed roamed the Northwest Territory. When settlers arrived in what
would later be the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, Johnny was
there, selling his apple trees. Some of his saplings were purchased
by settlers traveling in covered wagons to the western shores of the
continent. Johnny Appleseed became a legend throughout the entire United States.
Johnny carried a bag of apple seeds on his back
until he found a fertile area suitable for growing seedlings. He cleared the land
of brush and weeds, and planted his apple seeds in rows. He built
fences of brush to keep deer from eating his young trees.
He traveled by boat or raft on rivers and streams to transfer bags of seed. One
report describes him using two birch-bark canoes lashed securely together and piled high with leather bags
of apple seed. When he could not travel by water, Johnny went on foot, carrying his precious seeds
on his back.
He sold and bartered saplings as well as seed, using whatever the settlers used
for currency. When a settler was too poor to purchase seed, Johnny
would accept IOUs, many of which were never paid.
Johnny at first obtained most of his seed from
cider mills in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The cider presses only
operated in the fall and early winter. Johnny selected, washed,
dried and packed seed which he felt was suitable for producing
healthy trees. Later on, he got seed from cider mills that sprang up further west, thanks
to a growing number of trees.
Some of Johnny Appleseed's orchards were only an acre in size, but
others stretched as far as the eye could see. No one knows for
certain how many orchards he created, but it was in the hundreds. It
is reported that Johnny planted as many
as 16 bushels of seed to the acre, so one can begin to fathom the mountains of
seed that Johnny must have transported in his lifetime.
Johnny did not neglect the orchards he planted. When the trees were partly grown, he returned to prune
them and repair the fences.
Johnny was not only a practical businessman, but a sincere Christian as well. As he moved westward, he
spread the gospel along with his apple seed. He was always ready to talk with
both friends and strangers
about biblical themes. His library of Bibles and books, the teachings of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenbord in particular, was freely lent to all who would take the books and read them.
Because books were heavy, he often divided books into portions, leaving
one chapter at each farm until his next visit. Then he would exchange it for another chapter.
Readers rarely got the chapters in their proper order that way, but
it didn't seem to bother the settlers.
THE MEDICINE MAN
Doctors were few and far between on the wilderness frontier.
Besides apple seed and saplings, Johnny also gathered and sold medicinal herbs.
If herbs were not readily available in
the woods through which he traveled, he planted them to assure a good supply. Through his efforts, forests were
soon carpeted with
fennel, horehound, pennyroyal, rattlesnake root, catnip, and other "simples" that our ancestors used when
sick. Johnny always had a proper remedy in his pack for whatever ailed the people
he met. Johnny
himself enjoyed excellent health and died at 71 (probably of pneumonia) in an era when the average
lifespan was only 35.
In the newly founded United States, people had legitimate fears of of drinking
bad water. Many doctors warned people not to drink cold water on hot
days, saying that it could be fatal.
Wells had to be hand dug and lined with stone or hand-baked bricks,
so they were scarce and shallow. Water purification was nonexistent,
so alcohol was often added to the water to cleanse it of
contaminants. Many consumed beer and other alcoholic beverages
rather than deal with the water problems. This led to a problem with
Beer was the popular drink in Europe, but it didn’t keep well unless cool and in
airtight containers. Cider
apples, which the Europeans imported into the United States, soon became a staple on most American farms,
and pressing cider was an easy alternative to brewing beer.
John Adams, second President of the United
States, drank a pitcher of cider every morning and lived to be 91. The presidential campaign of 1840 was
often called the "hard cider campaign". William Henry Harrison had no platform, but the Whig Party, simply
portrayed their candidate as a common man who would be perfectly happy living in a log cabin drinking hard
cider. Log cabins and cider barrels became the banners of the Whig campaign. Harrison's Democratic opponent,
Van Buren, was portrayed as an aristocrat and he lost. The media said he was "drowned in a flood of hard cider."
Alcoholism soon became a serious problem in America. Women and children suffered especially. Churches, the
Methodists in particular, began preaching against drunkenness and alcohol consumption at about the same time
Johnny was peddling his trees.
There are some who like to portray Johnny Appleseed
as a drinker and champion of strong drink, but there is no evidence
for such a proposition. Considering his religious convictions, his concern for good health and his love of
children, it is hardly conceivable that Johnny Appleseed would have done anything to encourage drunkenness.
It is much more likely that the drinking problem motivated
Johnny to peddle apple seed and encourage people to plant apple trees.
Apples could be kept throughout the winter and pressed as needed for making
Johnny was a small wiry man with long dark hair, keen black eyes, and a beard that had never known a razor.
Like many of the settlers, he went barefooted a great deal because shoes were hard to come by and seldom
fit his tough gnarled feet. Children living in lonely frontier cabins were always delighted when they saw
Johnny Appleseed coming.
Johnny ate no meat and carried a tin pot or kettle which he used for
gathering nuts or berries in season. He also used the pot to carry
water, get milk from a settler's cow, boil potatoes, or to stir a handful
of coarse-ground meal into the boiling water for a simple but nourishing meal. He has been pictured wearing
such a pot on his head, but he more likely kept it tied to his pack.
As he was a small man, his bartered clothing usually fit him poorly. This led to some of the humorous
descriptions of his appearance in those early years.
HIS KINDLY NATURE
No one could have been more tender to all forms of animal life than Johnny Appleseed. In this respect he
reminds us of Saint Francis of Assisi. Johnny appreciated all nature as God's world, and the
birds as man's little brothers.
He was a deeply religious man who lived by the Golden Rule and had no fear of man or beast. He never
carried a gun or weapon of any kind. Indians accepted him as a friend, and he is reputed to have talked at
times to the wild animals who watched him while working in his nurseries.
Johnny worked by himself, living alone for weeks at a time with only the Indians and wild animals for
companionship. Occasionally he would use a horse to help carry his burden, but more than likely, he had
purchased the animal in order to save it from cruel treatment. Every autumn he searched the woods and
clearings for stray and cast-off animals, caring for them until they died of old age or until he could find
them a new home.
Once, it is reported, he was caught in a snow storm and crept into a hollow fallen tree for shelter. He
found it occupied by a hibernating bear and her cubs, but spent the night there
anyway. Another time he found that a bear
and her cubs were asleep in a hollow log against which he had built his fire, so not wishing to disturb
them, he quenched the flame and slept that night in the snow. It is reported,
probably in jesting, that he
would put out his campfire to keep from harming mosquitoes!
A rattlesnake once bit him and he killed the venomous creature; an action he ever after regretted. "Poor
fellow," said Johnny, "He only touched me, while I, in an ungodly passion, put the heel of my scythe
through him and went home."
John Chapman never married, but he loved people and especially children. As the settlers moved into the
wilderness, his lonely nights were fewer because he was a welcome guest at every cabin. Many a night after
the simple meal, he would hold them all enthralled with his stories or read to them from the Bible or from
some of the religious material he carried.
It was with such friends that he spent his last night. He had been living near Fort Wayne, Indiana,
when word came one March day that cattle had broken through the brush fence around one of his nurseries
some twenty miles away. Although it was a raw spring day, he set out immediately to repair the damage.
On his return trip he was stricken with the “winter plague.” He found shelter with friendly settlers but
failed to survive.
A newspaper account gives the date as March 18, 1845, but other dates have also been given. No one knows
for certain where his body is buried, but it is definitely not far from one of his apple trees!
Pioneers in a large section of the Middle West mourned the death of one of the strangest, yet best friends
they had. It is estimated that he left a legacy of more than 100,000 acres of
apple orchards. His sister inherited
1200 acres of orchard, planted as a testimony of his love for nature and his fellow humans.
There is an old poem that some children learned, one verse of which goes:
And if they inquire whence came such trees,
Where not a bough once swayed in the breeze,
The reply still comes as they travel on,
“Those trees were planted by Appleseed John."