I watched the end of The Lord of the Rings again last night. Those of you who know the story will understand all the details, but that isn't necessary to understand the point. If you haven't read the books or seen the movies, I would recommend them. They were dedicated to C.S. Lewis and the point of it all is that good will triumph, even when it seems impossible. As Frodo is boarding the ship to leave Middle Earth he tells a friend, "I did all that to save the Shire, but not for me." Frodo did indeed suffer and toil greatly to save the world of man, but then left it.
The thought occurred to me that often times that's what Gospel teachers and preachers do. They suffer with people, teaching them, counseling them, loving them, seeminly for nothing. But some years later they hear that this brother or sister has become a real power for good, or at least is now faithful and strong. During our 8 years in St. Croix we baptized over 70 people, but only a few of them are still in St. Croix. The rest have gone to Dominica, or Miami, or St. Thomas, etc. Many of them are still faithful and are real assets to the work where they now are, but the church in St. Croix doesn't receive the benefit.
Truly our job is to sow the seed, whereever we can. If we receive any benefit from it, that is wonderful. But even if we don't, God does and that is all that really matters.