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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 answer, “seeds.” Or they may see a star (seed pockets).

Most people see little value in seed. They just eat their apples and toss the core into the garbage. They prefer seedless melons and oranges and if they had their way, they would eliminate seed altogether. Many don't want children so abortions are common.

If I were to show half of an apple to Jesus, he would see more than something to eat. 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 (John 17:20)

Most people are consumers and see little value in seed. They just eat their apples and toss the core with seed into the garbage. They prefer seedless melons and oranges and if they had their way, they would eliminate seed altogether.

Fruit and Seed in the Bible

The Bible has much to say about seed and fruit. When God created the world, 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 harvest.

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!

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.

Two Books

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 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 back in 1956. On page 64 of this book, under the heading, 'Campers of Yesterday,' you will find Ralph Harvey'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 I gave my life to Christ at Camp Haluwasa, I too published a book. Rabban Gamaliel is about the Apostle Paul’s renowned teacher, mentioned only twice in the New Testament, but recognized by Jews as the greatest Rabbi of all times. I thought it fitting to present the first copy of my book to Camp Haluwasa in appreciation for the new life that I found in Jesus Christ through the ministry of Camp Haluwasa.

One Seed

That memorable experience got me to thinking and calculating. I am now retired from Missionary service in Austria, but the seed that God planted in the heart of this rebellious teenager back in 1956, is still multiplying today! And we are retired!

After graduation from Bible College, my wife and I began missionary service in Europe.

We planted churches, conducted evangelistic meetings and operated a youth center with a rehabilitation program for drug addicts. In 1974, we established a printing and publishing house which produced tons of literature used in missions and evangelism. A generous portion of the literature production was smuggled through the Iron Curtain into Eastern Europe.

In 1984, we founded the Austrian Bible Institute. Graduates are presently serving in churches and missions around the world. One is with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Ethiopia. Another is Director of a Swiss Mission with over 50 workers serving in Muslim countries. Still another graduate founded a youth organization that soon had 60 clubs and hundreds of trained leaders in Austria. The organization has  branched out into 17 nations of Europe and it’s still growing! These are just a few "seeds" from the Bible Institute seed.

We worked with refugees, some of whom became followers of Christ. One of these was an Albanian named Arben, who after graduating from the Austrian Bible Institute, returned to Albania and established a church in the northern city of Kukes. That church is now autonomous and composed almost entirely of converted Muslims under 30 years of age!

Incidentally, the tiny Bible Institute that we founded in 1984 with just six students is now the Christian University, "Campus Danubia", located next door to the modern new Central Railroad Station of Vienna!

Eternity alone will reveal how much fruit came from that one seed germinated at Camp Haluwasa in 1956!

An 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?

I have been told that there are five seeds (multipliers) in most apples. They can represent five kinds of missionary service:
  1. Everyone should be a witness of Christ (Acts 1:8).
  2. Some are called to career ministry.
  3. Many Christians are lay workers, serving in churches and in other ways.
  4. An increasing number of young Christians get involved in short-term mission projects
  5. Short-term missions is another variant

Man's Math and God's Math

In Mark 6:30-44, Jesus was teaching a crowd of 5,000 men and probably that many women. After a while they were all hungry and Jesus told his disciples to feed them. They thought that would be impossible, but Jesus told them to check and see what they could find. They found a boy who had five buns and two fish. The disciples asked, "What is that among so many?"

That is man's math.

Jesus divided the buns and fish among the 10,000 until they were all filled. Then he told the disciples to collect the leftovers. They collected twelve baskets full!

That is God's math!

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 other faithful men what he had learned from Paul, so these could teach others (II Timothy 2:2).

The apostle gave us 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 just 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 God's blessings 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! We enjoy God's bountiful blessings; do we share them with others?

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 paraphrase of Matthew 6:33). No matter what your gifts are, God can use and multiply you!

Avant Ministries:
Camp Haluwasa:

Johnny Appleseed

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.

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 alcoholism.

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 fresh juice.

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.

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."