Jan 11, 2021 | 4 min read | Dave Patty
This January marks over ten months of uncertainty and upheaval as the stubborn Coronavirus continues to spread around the world. In spite of vaccines that could soon be available to the wider public, the reality in Europe continues to be widespread lockdowns and increasing numbers of deaths.
It is winter in many senses of the word. Short days, long nights, grey weather, and relentless coronavirus cold. What does this mean for ministry?
I have a farmer friend who I try to visit at least once a year. He has a huge heart for ministry and we often trade farmer and missionary stories, commenting on how growing the Kingdom of God is similar to tending a farm. I usually stop by in winter, because he has more time to meet with me. I’m always surprised at the amount of important work to be done when nothing seems to be growing. During my last visit, I asked him about the nature of “winter work.”
“Winter is an important season of strengthening and repair,” he told me. “In the thick of harvest, there is no time to fix the machinery or reinforce the bridge over the creek. But, if these repairs are not made in winter, the full potential of the next season will be missed.” We are also using this unexpected winter time to strengthen our teams and fix nagging problems that are hard to give attention to when ministry is running at full speed.
“Animals need special care and feeding during the winter, because they are more vulnerable and susceptible to disease,” he continued. Leaders also need special care in difficult times, since the stress of shepherding others increases when conditions are tough. Because of this, our team is currently investing a great deal of energy in personal conversations and care for ministry leaders and local youth ministry teams. Sometimes what is most needed is not training and ministry ideas, but a phone call asking what we can pray for, or personal words of empathy and encouragement.
“Winter is a precious time that doesn’t last forever,” my farmer friend shared. “You have to look ahead to spring and do the hard work of preparation that will increase future capacity.” On a farm, this might include ordering adequate seed, purchasing a new tractor, or preparing a fresh field. In Josiah Venture, we are working on new training material, expanding our training centers in Czech and Latvia, developing new online tools for ministry, and preparing additional resources for local youth leaders. Long hours of careful work are being invested to ensure an increased capacity when this pandemic season is past.
When you look out the window during the winter, it might seem like the cold is shutting off life and closing down the future; however, a wise farmer knows that winters are to be expected and even embraced. In God’s natural cycle of seasons, “winter work” is needed to ensure the summer harvest.
I’m grateful for my farmer friend— and for you.
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