Monday, August 4, 2014

Lord of the Harvest

Money and prayer- two things so "obvious" about missions as to be clichéd.  You've heard a lesson or two where a visiting missionary is seeking money for their own needs and sometimes for the needs of a school, orphanage, or poverty stricken area.  You've heard or prayed this sentence before too, right?  "Lord please help all those serving in foreign fields."  But do you know that Jesus' direct instruction to his disciples was not to pray FOR missionaries and evangelists (I know that those prayers are greatly appreciated) but to pray for MORE missionaries and evangelists?

In Luke 10, Jesus is preparing 70 of his disciples for a short local mission trip.  Notice these are not sit-on-the-pew, Sunday morning Christians he's talking to.  These are his hand-picked evangelists, and the very first thing he tells them is that there are simply not enough laborers and that they should pray for more. Secondarily he tells them where to stay, what to do, and how to get their support.

In Matthew's account of the words, Jesus' situation is different.  He's the evangelist.  He's been through the cities and towns healing, preaching and casting out demons.  When he pauses long enough to take a good look around, the people's pain hurts him.  So what does he say to the disciples? 
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).
Missionaries don't come from Christian colleges or seminaries, from Christian families, from mega-churches, purpose driven youth groups, or para-church organizations.  Missionaries come from the Lord of the harvest. In fact, saying that any of these others "produce" missionaries is like saying babies come from hospitals.  That might be where they're born, but it's not where they come from.  

Missionaries are conceived in passionate prayer and incubated in amazing churches. But the Father who opens wombs is the Father who sends reapers out into his harvest.

So let's talk about your prayer life.  If you are preparing to reach those who don't know him, Jesus wants you to pray for more people to reach out with you.  If you are already out there everyday, feeling compassion for the lost and despairing world, Jesus wants you to pray for more people to be brokenhearted too.  If you're not praying for harvesters, and you are not a harvester either, I'd like you to take a deep breath and think for a moment about obeying the Savior.  Pray.  Not just for missionaries, but also for MORE missionaries. 

And the money?  Where does the money come in?

Let's take our previous analogy one step further.  What would you think of parents who prayed fervently for a baby only to neglect it once it arrived? Blessing turned to burden in a moment?  If we are going to pray for God to send workers into his fields, dare we neglect their care? 

I bring this to your attention because this month we'll be sharing two stories with you.  One in a video and another in a guest post.  They are from missionaries currently in the field.  Both of them, a young man and a young family, are tentmakers (like Paul made part or all of  his living making tents, these missionaries work in their host country as way to gain entry and help support themselves). They can't serve full-time because the country where they work believes that Christianity is a dangerous notion and monitors and punishes its foreign guests for missionary activity.  Compared to other parts of the world, their missions are both easier and more difficult.  Easier because their work brings them in contact every day with people who are eager to know more about them, their culture, and sometimes even their faith.  More difficult because they juggle the difficulties of living in a unfamiliar culture with a full-time secular job and a compelling aim to spread the gospel.

They are the workers.  Did you pray for them?  I did. And when I heard that both of them may be forced to go back to America because their local salary can't quite match their bills, when I heard that the reapers I begged God for are just short of the money they need to stay and work, I was ashamed.  I couldn't help but think of that old hymn.
Far and near the fields are teeming
With the waves of ripened grain;
Far and near their gold is gleaming
O'er the sunny slope and plain.
Lord of harvest, send forth reapers!
Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry;
Send them now the sheaves to gather
Ere the harvest time pass by.
Send them forth with morn's first beaming,
Send them in the noontide's glare;
When the sun's last rays are gleaming,
Bid them gather everywhere.

When Jesus went traveling homeless around Judea and Galilee he was supported by kind and wealthy women.  As I read that story, it sparked a thought. You are them. You are the kind and giving women who can keep these harvesters in God's field.

Both the young man from whom you'll hear on Friday, August 8th and the young family from who you'll hear on Wednesday, August 13th could be fully prepared for another year in the field with around 15,000.  If that seems like a lot of money to you, I'd like you to divide it into your current minister salary and remember that it puts 3 adults to work as missionaries for a year. 

Would you like to help?  Would you like to praise God for the answer to your prayers by caring for the gift he gave?  The smallest gift would help.* You can give here or here.  And be sure and join us on August 8 and August 13th to hear their individual stories.  


*This blog has always been 100% self-supported. Every penny of the money taken in (minus the fees charged by the collecting website) will be distributed to the churches that sponsor these missionaries for their work. 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission

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