As part of our goal of bringing the message and mission of Jesus out into the Harvest places, we thought you might enjoy reading some of the personal thoughts of someone out there trying to do just that. We know this isn’t filled with maybe the “answers” we all crave so much, but we do hope it will encourage you as you labor where you are.
In my last Harvest Diaries post I talked about those first few months getting a church started, but I also mentioned that there was a solid year and a half *before* a church even stuck around long enough to eat cake, here is that story…
Stood up for Jesus
The babysitter was lined up, the kids were fed, I had on adult clothes (as a stay-at-home-mom with an infant, I did not just “put on regular pants” for just anything)…and my husband’s phone started to buzz. We didn’t even have to look…we were being stood up. Again…
When we first decided to take Church out of the building and out into the everyday places we were pretty excited. We knew that the Lord had given us a heart for the lost in our city. We knew that the Great Commission was for us (or all of us!). We knew we wanted to get to those who weren’t being reached by the current methods of reaching people in the United States. But once we got started it got pretty discouraging pretty fast. We felt like we tried everything. We knocked on neighbor’s doors, we started conversations at parks and at work, we tried different tactics, we tried different intros, different stories. Nothing. Nada. Lots of nibbles. No bites. There are just so many dead-ends one can face before you start to wonder if maybe you should change deodorants or something!
What Happens in the Dry Seasons
But all jokes aside, as I look back on those days now, I am so grateful for the Lord’s perfect timing. He gave us time as a family to heal from past hurts (you can read about that here if you’d like!). He gave us time to try and then fail a hundred different ways of sharing the gospel, and a hundred different ways to have house church. I know that seems like not a great thing, but how thankful I am for failures! They teach us so much! That long season of seemingly zero fruit was clearly part of the Lord’s plan for us.
It reminds me of this quote I recently read from Ruth Chou Simons:
“Let me remind you what is easy to forget when we’re discouraged: God has a purpose in your season, whatever it may be, no matter how Winter it may feel right now: “So neither he who planted nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7
He is at work in you, friend. Don’t discount the dry, the barren, the seemingly unfruitful – blooms are His business.”
What Happens in the Hard Seasons
Last week we were reading to our kids about the missionary Adoniram Judson from the 1800s. He went to Burma and shared the gospel with the Burmese people and for six years not a soul got saved.
- His wife died.
- His children died.
- He got sick himself.
You guys, if he was your friend right now, would you be tempted to tell him to come on home? That maybe the Lord wasn’t actually calling him to those people? I know I would- from all outward appearances there was no fruit to his labor!
But we’d be wrong. After six years ONE PERSON got saved! Ha! Once again, I think I’d be tempted to think this labor was not worth the effort! However, I would be wrong. At the time of Adoniram’s death, thousands of Burmese people had accepted Christ.
We tend to be very numbers oriented – after all, it is a great way to gauge time and successes, isn’t it? And we can even be tempted to base how hard we’ve “worked” by numbers too! But numbers can be dangerous in seasons when there is not one, or maybe even just one success story. We can start to wonder if all this searching is worth it. If Jesus really wants us to “waste our time” like this. We could easily go back into a church building and start volunteering for some church events that would obviously be more successful at first glance!
But, in God’s economy, 6 years for one soul is a trillion percent worth it. We must change the way we think if we want to have a heart like Jesus in the harvest. After all, Jesus told the story of the woman who lost one of her ten coins. She swept out her house looking for that one coin that she’d lost, and when she found it she invited her friends over to celebrate. Jesus also told the story of how when one sheep was lost the Shepherd left the 99 to go out into the hills and cliffs and valleys to find that one lost sheep. He finishes by saying, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” ( Luke 15:10)
Keep Searching for the One
Our ministries in the harvest may not be big and impressive on paper. It may not be worth writing home about, but if you’re going after the one little lost one, know that you’re doing important work. You’re investing in the Lord’s harvest and He is faithful.
“You do not have to be blooming to be growing. God is always at work.”
~ Ruth Chou Simons
If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to check out more Harvest Diaries here.