There seem to be verses in the Bible that just jump out and hit you in the face with conviction every time you read them. For me, Matthew 9:37 ("Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.") is one of those verses, and I am sure that it is one of those verses for some of you as well.
Whenever I read that, I almost immediately drop to my knees begging God for a "field" to harvest. With my hands folded, knees bent, and face down right beside the shovel I have laid out for when God sends me to dig wells in Africa, I pray to be a part of God's work around the world.
I found myself praying that prayer again around this time last year. I was about to go out on a summer team to Honduras with CTI music ministries (www.ctimusic.org). Two of my friends from church were going with me, and in less than a week we would be making the 2,000 mile drive from California to Willmar, Minnesota for training and all of that jazz.
Now there's something you should know: Jason, Jon, (the two friends mentioned above) and I have a very bad habit -- or hobby. We love playing with airsoft guns. For those of you who don't know what those are, they are bb guns that shoot plastic bb's. Now, being the adventurous guys that we are, we love the feeling of shooting down cans and various things that we can stack up in Jason's backyard. But when the cans and fruit have had their share, we turn to shooting at each other.
One week before we were going to drive out to Minnesota, we found ourselves in Jason's backyard shooting at each other. Jason was on the left side of his house, Jon on the right. As soon as someone yelled, "Go!" I shot until I hit Jon in the arm. In this blur of confusion, Jason ran out into the middle of the backyard hiding behind a trashcan. I turned to fire at him and shot three or four times. Within those three or four pulls of the trigger, Jason fell to the ground. I immediately got up and danced, the kind of victory dance you do in that sick game, but when I noticed Jason not getting up, I grew exceedingly concerned and ran over to him.
"Jason, you ok?"
"…I AM SHOT IN THE EYE!"
We brought him inside and gave him an ice pack, but his eye just kept getting worse until he couldn't see out of it. After about 45 minutes or so of waiting to see if it would wear off, we decided to take him to the ER. The next few hours were spent in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and being yelled at by a very angry doctor that we would get so seriously hurt playing such a stupid game.
Quick side note: the only cool part about that time in the ER was when they ran this test to see into his eye. They dropped some sort of weird solution into his eye and turned on a black light to see it light up. The chemical glowed with a creepy yellow as the doctor looked into his retina. It started to leak out of his eye and seriously looked like one of those old Gatorade commercials! Awesome.
Anyways, back to the story. Before, during, and after the ER the three of us were in constant prayer over the situation. I was praying for God's healing and asking for a miracle in as many different ways as I could, but when Jason would pray, he had a strange calm contentment and prayed that God's will would reign over any of our desires. I didn't understand this at all, but I figured he was still feeling the effects from his recent trauma and wasn't quite thinking straight.
Jason ended up making an amazing recovery and was able to come with us on the trip. It was incredible to see God moving in such a visible way. (You could even see it with one good eye, ha!)
One day after his recovery, after our drive, after our summer, I asked Jason about that strange calmness and contentment that he exuded during what I would have deemed as a nice time to panic. I asked how it was that with just one working eye and a summer on the line that he wasn't praying for a miraculous healing with us. He turned and answered me with something that I had spoken to our church about that very morning.
After talking through it for a while, I came to realize it was all in that verse from Matthew, the harvest was plentiful. Jason knew that the harvest wasn't limited to Singapore. It was wherever God has placed him.
When I bow down and beg for a field and the tools, (I am not in any way saying that we should neglect to pray for guidance and the ability to do the work we are called to) I was missing the field that I was always in all along.
Another one of those convicting verses is known as The Great Commission:
"19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
In the original Greek, the first two words of that verse (Therefore go) are what is known as a present progressive verb which literally translates to "As you are going"
As you are going, make disciples. As you are going, baptize.
As you are going, teach.
As you are going, the Lord will be with you always.
As we are going, we are surrounded by a missions field that is ready for the harvest. Whether at work, school, with family, or even in our own churches, we are in the missions field. As we approach this summer, many of us will be going out to serve in some way on a missions trip. But for those of you who aren't, or for those of you who might not be because your genius friend shot you in the eye, do not be discouraged. You are constantly in a field where the harvest in plentiful, and often the ones close to home are right where the workers are fewest.
Every morning, as the sun rises, it seems that God is welcoming us to a field that he has planned for us to harvest long before we were born. A field that we have been in for so long but might not even have realized it.
Welcome to the missions field.
Monday, May 05, 2008
As we end our final tour to reflect on the magnitude of what was experienced is daunting. The mission is everywhere. May it be at work, home, schools, prisons, etc. The call to be a christian is 24-7. With CTI, it has it's perks. Eat every single fast food chain in the US but also see the beauty of each state, and God's creation and unique characteristics to this nation, may it be the corn fields, deserts, mountains, beaches etc. The reason why we ask for prayer is because a ministry cannot survive without support of the body of Christ. It's bigger than a denomination or just a church, it's observing things that happen off stage for us. For it's definitely so much more than an hour concert of songs, testimonies and dramas. It's what happens after the music stops that ministry still continues, the mission never ends. Our lives are a constant testimony, as action speaks louder than words, a story and a fragrance, scent, hopefully smelling delicious like Christ to a dying world. What I am really thankful for is all the homes that have been feeding and housing us but more importantly sharing their lives and history. As brothers in sisters in Christ which is the foundation and what binds us all together in unity, it's past and beyond any human ties, loyalty, and not discriminatory to age, race, gender, etc. More importantly it's this interdependence that is crucial. Gas, hotels, food costs money but we have only been able to continue as the body works together. My concept was so small as to what a church was. I thought it was the denomination, Sunday's, the task of doing stuff for God and fulfilling the rules. I"m learning that it is in sacrifice, suffering, giving it all and pointing back to the cross as to the why we do all this. Why a year, money resources are given up. Because as it all comes back to the heart of God, it is the simple command of fulfilling the Great commission. To go out, make disciples of all nations and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Of course in America we might go to church, and have massive exposure to the gospel and bibles, but has it become entertainment, to just have an easy life and wait until Jesus comes? There are many that talk of blessings, health and wealth which are not evils inherently within themselves, but what I miss is the reality of God's word. There is sin, judgment, separation from God. The harvest is plentiful because the workers are few. Now is the time to realize I may not go to Africa, the slums or even have that heart for missions, but sometimes the difficulty and ministry can be within the family, friends, neighbors and those closest and dearest to us. We all need Jesus despite what country, problem, struggle, background, denomination, christian school we go to etc, that is the mission, that is what should be our common heart cry, to of course awaken and encourage the church but realize what the mission is all about. It's not just the building project, the social reforms, of even politics, in the end it's all about Jesus (period).