In April 1937, Mussolini's invading armies forced all the missionaries serving in the Wallamo region to flee Ethiopia. They left behind just 48 Christian converts, who had little more than the gospel of Mark to feed their growth. Few even knew how to read. But when the missionaries returned 4 years later, the church had not just survived; it numbered 10, 000!
When the apostle Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10), he yearned to learn about the survival of the small band of Christians he left behind (1 Thess. 2:17). But when Timothy visited the Thessalonian church later, he brought word to Paul in Athens about their "faith and love" (3:6). They had become "examples" to the believers in the surrounding regions in Macedonia and Achaia (1:8).
Paul never claimed credit for any numerical increase in his ministry. Nor did he attribute it to anyone else. Rather, he gave credited to God. He wrote, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (1 Cor. 3:6). Difficult circumstances may thwart even our best intentions, separating friends from each other for a season. But God is growing His church through every difficulty, we need only be faithful and leave the results to Him.