Planting “Mustard” Seeds Among the Nations

And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

“For truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. Matthew 17:20

“Bring mustard seeds with you and plant them at the places He leads you to go,” a friend and co-worker, Wendy Wong, proclaimed to me after hearing from the Lord. “Proclaim God’s Word – His reign, kingdom, blessings, and restoration will reach the cities and countries through your family.”

“I will do it,” I replied immediately. “As we travel and pray through the nations in 2020, we will plant His Kingdom (mustard seeds) wherever we go.”

Annie and I were so inspired.

We want to plant mustard seeds at important locations, such as historical or high places or places with the most needs. We don’t know where yet, but we trust that God will show us where. However, instead of real mustard seeds which might not get through border customs or might be evasive to the local flora, we decided to use local seeds as the symbolic “mustard” seeds.

The “mustard” seeds also reminded us throughout our travel of the little faiths that we have and the big faithfulness that our Father has. In UK, Portugal, and Spain, I thought of giving up on the trip and giving up on the children. Again and again, God did miracles in our family and in our travel, miracles that can move mountains.

It’s amazing the places God brought us to — places that need restoration from the coming of His kingdom. Below is the chronological list of the places where God led us to plant the seeds.

Paz’s Grave, Rose Bay Apartment, Kunming, China

This is our apartment complex, Rose Bay, in Kunming.

Rose Bay Apartment is where we started our one-year trip and we will be leaving after living here for 14 years. So appropriately, we planted a seed as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us during our season of life in China as well as trusting his protection as we venture out during the pandemic.

Planted on top of our dog’s grave in our apartment complex.

We planted the seed on the fresh grave of our faithful dog, Paz, who died just few weeks ago at an old age of 12.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Hadrian’s Wall, England, United Kingdom

Hadrian’s Wall in England

Romans built this wall over 1800 years ago, which stretches 150 miles across northern England from coast to coast. At its peak, the wall would have been around 5 meters tall and in some places 3 meters wide. It was built to defend the northern limit of the civilized Roman Empire, keeping the ‘barbarians’ of the north at bay.

The tip of the umbrella marks the spot where we planted the apple seed.

After spending several hours in the Roman Army Museum, we gained an appreciation for the significance of this monumental structure and felt led to plant a seed at the foot of the wall which was overlooking a cliff towards the north. That day, it was raining and the wind was blowing hard. We prayed for healing and forgiveness of the much bloodshed, violence, and lost lives that this ancient wall had witnessed.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Greenwich Line, London, United Kingdom

Annie and I prayed standing on the Greenwich Line.

The line in Greenwich represents the historic Prime Meridian of the World – Longitude 0º. Every place on Earth was measured in terms of its distance east or west from this line. The line itself divided the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth.

A friend reminded Annie that Greenwich represents the center of the earth. Annie and I realized that it would be a significant location to proclaim God’s kingdom to the East and to the West. After walking up the green hill from the River Thames, we found the Greenwich Royal Observatory. However, the entrance ticket was quite expensive. Just when we were deciding how to know where is the Greenwich Line, we saw some tourists coming out of a hidden gate. Following where they had been, we saw a Greenwich line extending north out of the observatory.

Annie holding the seed that we were about to plant on the Greenwich Line.

So there, Annie and I planted a seed, knelt down, and prayed for His Kingdom to extend to the very end of the East and the West. We prayed for Europe that there would be a new revival as most church pews are left empty and churches are closing down as the new generation no longer find God relevant in their lives.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Slave Market, Lagos, Portugal

Annie and I prayed in front of the first Slave Market in Europe.

The Mercado de Escravos (Slave Market) is a historical building located on the site where the first slave market in Europe of the modern era took place, in 1444. Profits from the sale of those first enslaved Africans led to more Portuguese raids of West Africa. Over 10 years, an estimated 800 slaves came to Lagos through this pre-Middle Passage route. As a result, Lagos became Europe’s first African slave market.

As we were to embark upon the continent of Africa, the impact of this first slave market in Europe on history became even more significant for us. We prayed against the violence and broken families that were levied against the enslaved at that very site and we prayed for God’s healing upon the emotional and spiritual wounds of all the decedents of the enslaved.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Tomb of Apostle James, Camino de Santiago, Spain

We prayed as we walked the Camino.

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage route of Christian tradition that started more than a thousand years ago. The Camino de Santiago does not have a defined starting point; each pilgrim can start it from numerous routes that run through Spain and southwestern Europe. What is common to all the routes is its end, the tomb of Apostle James (Santiago) in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest of Spain.

Following the tradition, instead of planting a seed, we placed a shell that we carried the whole way on top of the tomb of Apostle James.

In recent years, more than 300,000 pilgrims walk the Camino each year. However, in 2020 when we walked the Camino, due to the pandemic, the number of pilgrims was only 1/10 of the normal. On the tomb of Apostle James, instead of a seed, we put on the tomb a shell that we carried from the start of our pilgrimage until the finish. The shell symbolizes the burden that we carried and now we release that burden to God. We prayed that just as pilgrims from all over the world head towards this one spot, all of the people would head towards Jesus and proclaim Him as their savior.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Jewish Cemetery, Fez, Morocco

Nathan stood overlooking the ancient city of Fez in Morocco.

Fez is one of the oldest living cities in the world with 1300 years of history, including having the oldest university and tannery in the world. Morocco became a refuge for Jews during the persecution in Spain and Fez had long hosted the largest and one of the oldest Jewish communities in Morocco. Annie’s high school friend Erika’s grandparents are buried there. We were able to take a photo of the cemetery for Eriks’s mother since she is too old to travel there.

We planted two seeds overlooking the Jewish Cemetery in Fez.

It was there that we planted a symbolic “mustard” seed in Morocco. We thank God for Arabs in Morocco who took in the Jews preserving so many lives. We prayed for the small groups of Christians that worship in secret in Morocco. May God blind the eyes of the police and let the house churches multiply. May God continue to give dreams of “the man in white” to the Muslims here so that one day they will know Jesus, not just as a prophet, but as their savior.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Sunrise at Sahara Sand Dune, Merzouga, Morocco

We woke up early to hike to the top of the dune for the sunrise.

Sahara is the largest desert in the world, covering 31% of Africa, and almost the entire North Africa including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan, and Tunisia, all are Islamic countries.

Merzouga, where we stayed, used to be a tropical jungle and still has the largest body of underground water in Morocco. It was uninhabited and later became a transit point for merchants heading for Timbuktu, Mali. It later became home to the nomads of the Berber tribes who lived in Morocco before the coming of the Arab Muslims. Berber used to be a Christina tribe although they no longer remember it. Their tribal symbol actually resembles a cross. There are villages there with inhabitants who are all black. They used to be slaves enslaved from Sub-saharan Africa.

We planted a seed in the desert dune and prayed for all of North Africa.

We sat on top of one of the highest dunes in Merzouga watching the sunrise, after camping on the sand dune for one night. We could see Algeria on our left which was only 50km away. There we prayed that Jesus’s love will enter the Islamic world of North Africa in ways that we are yet able to comprehend. We planted a seed into the dry desert sand and blessed it. It would take a miracle for the seed to grow there. But isn’t God the only way for people in North Africa to know Jesus?

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

We reached the top of the table mountain after a hot, steep hike.

At over 1000 meters, Table Mountain overlooks the entire Cape Town and its surrounding coasts. Cape Town was an important way-station during ancient times for the sea trade between the West and the East. Cape Town was also at the center of the apartheid where the social class was from the White to Asians, Coloured (mixed between White & Black), then Black. It was a grueling climb for us up the mountain in the middle of the day with no shade, especially for Olivia who climbed with a fever!

We planted a seed on the Table Mountain, praying for unity among the diverse people groups in South Africa.

On the top, we planted a seed and prayed. We prayed for unity for this nation that is so diverse, yet so separated economically and ethnically. We prayed for fatherhood. Fatherless is so evident everywhere we went, with mothers and grandmothers taking care of 4 or more children. We prayed against corruption, which is the number one issue voiced by most of those we spoke with. We prayed against social apartheid as well as reverse apartheid. God, please have mercy on this richest yet a “poor” nation of Africa.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Refugee Camp, Arua, Uganda

Overlooking the Sudanese refugee camp in northern Uganda.

The refugee camp in Arua is the second largest in the world. Due to the civil war in South Sudan, many went across the border to northern Uganda and are stuck here for the last 10 years. It was as if God brought Sudan to us. In Jordan, 5 years ago, we met our first Sudanese refugee friend Bel. Although we can’t go to Sudan due to the pandemic, God has brought Sudan to Uganda to complete a full circle.

In 2016, although most people in South Sudan are Christian, the dominant tribe in South Sudan, Dinkas, fought with all the other tribes for power. Tribes fought against each other and killing innocent men, women, and children. Escaping to Uganda was a dangerous trek as rebels from the bush would come and kill indiscriminately. The distrust among the tribes continues even in the refugee camp. When there are rumors of tribe killings in South Sudan, the refugees living in Uganda would seek revenge among the refugees there.

I was holding the symbolic mustard seed to be planted in the refugee area.

“All the vice-presidents representing different tribes are Christians,” a South Sudan refugee lamented. “If only they can act like Christians then there can be peace for South Sudan.”

When leaving the refugee camp, I planted a symbolic mustard seed there with the hope that God’s kingdom will come to the South Sudanese in the refugee camp as it is in heaven.

“Dear God, may you bring peace on earth and goodwill to men here in Arua. May you change their hatred to love. May you bring hope out of their despair. Amen.”

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Mfangano Island, Victoria Lake, Kenya

On Mfangano Island overlooking Lake Victoria.

Victoria Lake is the largest lake in Africa, as well as the second-largest lake in the world. It strategically borders 3 countries: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania; and is the source of the Nile that heads north through the Islamic countries of Sudan and Egypt. Sitting inside Victoria Lake is the Mfangano Island, home to the Suba people, with a population of 16,000 people.

It took us three days to reach Mfangano Island after crossing the border from Uganda and taking two buses, a ferry, a wooden boat, and a motorbike. We stayed in a Kenyan missionary’s ancestral home near the highest peak of the island at 1700 meters, with no electricity and no running water.

During the three days at Mfangano, we would visit different neighbors to pray for them. One afternoon, Annie and I gave our testimonies at the church. After sharing, everyone shared how our messages impacted them which was one of the few times we got to hear the impact of our messages.

We planted and prayed for a symbolic mustard seed at the highest point on the island.

Together with a local pastor and an elder, we planted a symbolic mustard seed at the highest point on the island. There, we blessed and prayed for all the people and countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) that surround this biggest lake in Africa, as well as being the source of the Nile.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Coba Mayan Ruin, Yucatan, Mexico

Grand Pyramid — the tallest pyramid in the ruin.

The Maya ruins at Cobá are unique in that only a few of its estimated 6,500 structures have been uncovered. Cobá may have once had the largest population of all the ancient Mayan cities. This vast Mayan archeological site dates from 600-900 A.D. and there were an estimated 100,000 people living in its domain. It was the heart of a large metropolis composed of many cities within the eastern Yucatan. As many as fifty ancient roads led into this huge Mayan city center, one of them over 62 miles long — the longest in the Mayan world.

After praying with the children, I planted a seed here at the foot of the Grand Pyramid.

We planted a seed and prayed at the foot of the Grand Pyramid of Coba, its most important religious site. As we prayed, we sensed the spiritual darkness from the bloodshed of the indigenous tribes by the European conquerors and the practice of blood sacrifices of animals and even children in these pyramids. We pray against the syncretism between Christianity and tribal animistic worships. Jesus, may you heal this land and its people.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Volcano Crater, Santa Ana, El Salvador

We hiked to the top of the Santa Ana Volcano, the tallest point in El Salvador.

At 2,381 meters (7,812 ft) above sea level, Santa Ana Volcano is the highest volcano in El Salvador. After taking a local bus for an hour and summiting another two hours, we saw a glance of the green-blue crater lake over the edge of the cauldron, with clouds floating across sometimes obscuring the view.

We planted a seed on top of the volcano and prayed for El Salvador.

It was at this highest point of the country that we planted a seed. We prayed against the violence in the urban slums of El Salvador, whose capital is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We prayed for peace and healing after the ethnic cleansing of the natives. We prayed for God’s Kingdom to reign here fully on earth as it is in heaven.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.

Volcano Acatenago, Antigua, Guatemala

Throughout the night, we heard and feel the constant eruptions from the nearby Fuego Volcano.

With a population of 17 million, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and the central location of the ancient Mayan culture. It continues to struggle with poverty and crime and ranks one of the lowest (31st of 33) of Latin American and Caribbean countries in terms of the Human Development Index.

Volcano Acatenago sits at 4000 meters overlooking the ever erupting Fuego (fire) volcano next to it. We did a two-day one-night hike to the summit of Volcano Acatenago. It felt surreal to see the Fuego volcano continuously erupting evey 10-20 minutes, sometimes so big that the ground shook.

Hiking the Acatenago was the ultimate health test for me. When I was in the hospital bed in Kenya, I thought I might need to be bedridden for the rest of my life with failed kidneys and severe anemia. Just going up one flight of stairs was a struggle. Two months later, I was able to hike up to the 4000-meter volcano with little difficulty. Thank you, God.

We planted a seed on top of the Acatenago volcano crater.

With thanksgiving, we planted a seed on top of the Acatenago volcano. We prayed against the violence in the nation. We prayed for hope for the migrants who have been walking from Guatemala to the US to find a better life for their children. May God’s mighty power be manifested like the Fuego Volcano, full of power and awe.

A seed planted. A sign of His Kingdom.


May all people, tribes, and nations on earth nest under the love of God and His kingdom..starting with planting a small mustard seed wherever we go…

And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.” Mark 4:30-32

(This blog is dedicated to Wendy Wong who inspired us.)

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