I had a most interesting dream the other day. In the dream all the people I have ever witnessed or ministered to face-to-face or online gathered together at a place where I was preaching. Many of the faces were unfamiliar (presumably those who have read our materials online or our printed tracts). There were so many that they could not fit into the meeting all. I was quite surprised.
"We walk by emunah (faith), not by sight" (2 Cor.5:7, NKJV).
I think most ministers, at some time or another, feel they have failed or are not doing their best, especially in times when nothing much seems to be happening on the outside. But in truth we can never know what impact our witness has had in this life in the majority of cases, and it is probably as well we do not know, since we are called to serve by emunah (faith, trusting) and not by sight.
This is true not only for ministers but for every believer. Moreover, we do not always witness the complete transformation of a soul from the point of hearing some aspect of the gospel to the point where a choice is made and a soul is saved, though of course it is lovely when we do. Some plant, some water and others harvest...and of course it is Yahweh who gives the increase (1 Cor.3:5-9). We must play our part by giving whatever is needed to those who cross our path at any one particular time and may possibly never see the result.
People come and go, particularly in a teaching ministry like ours which is not just concerned with alpha (alef)-salvation but with the whole spectrum of spiritual emet (truth) to omega (taw)-salvation. At first it used to upset me but now I see it as part of the complex process of wrestling and overcoming. People come attracted by this emet (truth) or that and then come across something that is too meaty for them and run. Or maybe they hear gossip and believe the lies. Whatever their experience, those who continue to search and struggle either come back to us or find others to whom the same emet (truth) is being revealed. Either way it is good, because Yahweh is glorified.
We control none of these things and must find our satisfaction in knowing that we have been led to speak or write this or that and that Yahweh brings souls to these words who are ready and need it at the right time. We are a part of a long chain of witnesses, not independent, self-contained links. It's not a question of finding 'the truest link' but of staying close to Messiah all along the way. And, yes, there are gatherings and communities, some temporary, others more or less permanent, where community participation is necessary for further spiritual growth. They are not, however, the end - Yah'shua (Jesus) is.
The important thing is to witness at every opportunity and in the way that Yahweh inspires, which will be unique for each individual. We can but listen and respond. He takes care of the rest. In that we find our shalom and purpose.
Most of the people I saw in my dream I have no further contact with. I have no idea what they are doing. Some are dead and some have abandoned Messiah. Others I know are strong in their salvation. The rest I know nothing more about. In my dream I lost them and tried to gather them together but could not. Now I know why. They are Yahweh's fruit - those who are saved - and for Him alone to know all things about. One day, in the next life, I shall know them again. But in the meantime, we must soldier on in emunah (faith)!