Lessons of the Harvest
Amy Nickerson | October 2017
When I was a bright-eyed, blonde-haired toddler, my parents would ask me how much they loved me, and I’d spread my short arms as wide as I possibly could and answer enthusiastically, “This much!” I grew up confident my mom and dad loved me a whole lot. I grew up knowing my Heavenly Father did too.
I still often take that fact for granted. But when I look at the world around me, I know I have it good. There are so many people who don’t realize how much they are loved. Countless kids who want to outstretch their arms, but haven’t been embraced when they’ve tried.
As I think these days about the harvest, that’s what I picture. The blind and bleeding, the bruised and beaten, the crowds around the globe who don’t yet grasp that the love of Christ is wide and long and high and deep.
In Matthew 9, when Jesus looked out over the multitudes, His heart broke for the people in need. “What a vast harvest!” He said to His disciples. As you partner with us to reap a good harvest here in Central and Eastern Europe, here are a few things the Bible teaches us about that harvest that I hope we can all keep in mind.
The Harvest is Here
When Jesus was talking about the harvest, His eyes were on the people right in front of Him. The harvest was plentiful there and then. You could argue that’s even more true now. Today, the world’s population is much larger than it was when Jesus walked the earth. It is estimated that it grows by 75 million people every year. And of the over 7 billion individuals in the world, around 36 million of them will die this year alone without knowing Christ.
Jesus was present in the fields of the harvest. We are too. Everyday, people around us are searching for purpose and meaning in life, often in all the wrong places. They are right in front of us. We see them in our schools and places of work. We pass them on our streets. Maybe they’re even in our own homes.
Here in Central and Eastern Europe, less than one in every hundred young people believe God loves them and has a plan for them. They need a hope that we have. That is the harvest Jesus spoke of. It is right here.
The Harvest is Ripe
In John 4:35 (ESV), Jesus says that the fields are “white for harvest.” When wheat is ready to be harvested it turns a golden color. That changes to white before it falls to the ground, warning workers that their chance to reap what has been sown is coming to an end. Jesus is not just saying the fields are ready for harvest, but that we should feel an immediacy to act, because that won’t always be the case.
The gospel has the power to save lives, but it can only do so if it is spread in time. Today’s the time. Our missionaries confirm that over and over again as they find that young people are open and responsive to the gospel message. When we trust that God has indeed prepared the fields and will produce good fruit, we have the freedom to live into His command to work in the fields right now. And He promises when we do, He will supply and increase the results of our work (2 Corinthians 9:10).
The Harvest is Eternal
Besides being here and now, the harvest has a lasting impact. It’s worth the effort it takes to work in the fields because the fruit that comes from it is eternal.
When Jesus sent out the disciples to go to the ends of the earth and multiply, baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He was telling them to work in the fields. We are the fruit of their labor and the many other faithful followers of Christ who came before us. I could grow up with parents who taught me that I am loved, because they were taught that by someone else, who was also taught that, and so on.
After more than two decades of ministry in Central and Eastern Europe, Josiah Venture is seeing disciples from the harvest equipped and trained, actively ministering to the harvest. Young people who came to know Christ through the love of our staff members are maturing in their faith and becoming leaders who are also pointing others to the love of Christ.
This work is not easy, not comfortable, not practical. It is worth it, though, because it is life-saving. Jesus came to make God known and says we should proclaim the Kingdom of God without looking back (Luke 9:62). When we do, He knows we’ll be able to rejoice together (John 4:36). And I for one, can’t wait for that!
As you remember that the harvest is here, ripe, and eternal, please pray earnestly, as Jesus told His disciples to, for more laborers. And visit our online Prayer Room to pray through requests from those already impacting the harvest here in Central and Eastern Europe.