Thanks For the Harvest
Amy Nickerson | November 2017
Back when living on farms was common and farmers made up well over half the North American workforce, Thanksgiving was celebrated as a way to give thanks for the year’s harvest. Though I feel far removed from the fields of those farmers and know next to nothing about agriculture, this year I find I’m more grateful than ever for good fruit and our God who blesses us with it.
There are a couple of clear reasons for this newfound appreciation for sowing seeds and reaping rewards. For one thing, Josiah Venture has recently been talking a lot about the spiritual harvest Jesus speaks of in places like Luke 10. Maybe you’ve seen our From the Harvest, To the Harvest videos or social media posts. On top of that, I’ve now lived as a missionary in Europe for over a year and have had many opportunities within that time to see and be a part of how God is moving.
So, in this season of gratitude, and as many JV team members gather at Malenovice this week to eat pumpkin pie and enjoy being together, here are some of the things I’m remembering to thank God for.
Last year, at JV’s Fall Conference, the theme was Inspire and we explored what we could learn from the Moravians in the 1700s who followed God passionately and spread seeds of the gospel across the globe. I’ve attended a lot more of our organization’s events since then, but I still regularly think about the faith-filled men and women who devoted their lives to the harvest in the past.
The fact is not lost on me that those Europeans, from right around the area I live in now, sowed the very seeds that grew into the “Great Awakening,” shaping not only the UK, but also the North American church, which led to my personal faith in Christ today. As I walk down cobblestone streets here, I see traces of the legacy they left. This place echoes with praises from the past. These fellow Christians, as well as the many around the world, both before and after them, labored for the sake of the gospel and now we get to enter into their worship. This inspires me, making me wonder what people in the future will say of our legacy, and leaving me thankful for godly examples of those who worked in the fields before we got here.
Which leads me to the fields that Jesus says are “ripe for the harvest.” This year, I am also thankful for the opportunities God has given Josiah Venture and myself to be involved in His harvest through working in the fields. For us, the field we focus on is in Central and Eastern Europe. Revival was real here in the days of the Moravians, but communism changed the atmosphere, and those who know Jesus personally are now harder to find.
In Romania this summer, I noticed a teen at the mall wearing a t-shirt with big, bold letters that read: My life is only mine. That kid, like so many of his postmodern peers, doesn’t realize the joy, hope, and purpose that’s found in living for more than yourself; being a part of something bigger than you could have dreamed up on your own.
I pray that this would change. That someday, that guy and his friends would get the chance to live for God instead. This is why JV does what we do --because the fields are here, right in front of us and they are ready for growth. I’m thankful that this is the case.
Another thing I’m thankful for is that we get to serve Christ together. You, who read this blog and pray for JV and give toward our ministry and come on short-term teams and internships, are as much a part of fueling this movement of God as those of us who are full-time JV employees. We are thankful for all of you who make it possible for us to be here impacting the Kingdom of God and who believe with us in our mission, vision, and core values.
Besides all of you, I get to work alongside an amazing group of full-time staff who are committed, creative, compassionate people who love Jesus and others well. Every day, I am challenged and encouraged by the dynamic community I get to be a part of and feel so privileged to get to see God work in and through the members of the JV team.
More and more, we are also seeing God raise up young leaders across this region; disciples making disciples, from the harvest, to the harvest. As I get to travel a lot for work and sit down often to hear stories about what is happening, these nationals are some of my favorite people to connect with and the ones who get me the most excited about things to come.
While I spend a lot of my time communicating the need for a movement of God here in Europe, this article wouldn’t be complete without remembering that God is already producing a lot of good fruit.
This summer, we put on 120 evangelistic camps through local churches in 13 European countries. Around 2,800 young people heard the gospel and almost 600 of them made professions of faith in Jesus Christ. Our evangelistic activities across JV’s ministries continue to expand and this year over 12,500 unbelievers heard the gospel through these events, around 1,870 making a profession of faith in Christ as a result. On the discipling and training front, our JV staff have led over 7,350 people in disciple-making activities this year and have trained over 5,600 young leaders at conferences and other events.
That’s just a brief look into some of the numbers, but what is more important is that each one of those numbers represents a person with a name, face, and smile. Someone who has beliefs about life that drive their decisions and behaviors in the day to day. These people were created by God and are extremely loved by Him, whether they think that’s true or not, and this year, they made steps closer to Him. Closer to the Lord of the Harvest who brings everlasting fruit. When I think about that, it’s easy to be thankful.