Be honest. Have you ever complained that the people you are trying to reach are harder to reach than the people in another place? I have. I hear this a lot from those we train. It’s human nature to think that where we work is a more difficult place than anywhere else. Frustrated with our lack of results, we think, “Maybe the harvest isn’t ripe in my area. We’re still in the plowing and sowing stage.”
What if one day instead of talking about the problems related to our miserably small harvest, we were animatedly discussing the issues and difficulties related to a plentiful harvest? Sound like the kind of problem you’d seriously like to have?
A change in mindset could about the harvest could lead to this kind of problem one day in the near future.
We must change our thinking from “my people group (or area) is too resistant to see a DMM.” Instead, we must believe what Jesus told His disciples. He said, the harvest is ripe.
Harvest Is a Theme of Scripture
Fruitfulness and multiplication are one of the most repeated themes in Scripture. How many times does the Bible mention harvest? 111 times. That’s a lot! And fruit? That’s mentioned 198 times.
Beginning with Adam, in the promise made to Abraham, throughout the prophets, in the Gospels and Epistles and through the Book of Revelation, multiplication is a frequent theme. We find the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 9″7), and the promise that God would bring multiplication (Gen 22:17) and harvest. These passages speak of a physical harvest and physical descendants, but it also forecasts to a spiritual harvest of Jesus followers. Romans and Galatians teach us that those who trust in Christ are the spiritual descendants, the sons of Abraham.
What do we do when the harvest where we work, seems to be so small? When it seems to be a hard and barren field?
One experience field worker wrote, “There came a point in my own journey where I had to admit that I had built up a list of excuses. I’d adopted wrong thinking about the field and about harvest in my location. My underlying beliefs/feelings affected my perceptions of reality about the field. They also impacted my faith. I struggled to train others for harvest. I was more comfortable training and then sending workers into the fields to sow, rather than expecting they would reap.”
What Do You See?
My missionary friend described his difficulty, “I was stuck seeing hard empty fields.” What do you see when you look at the fields around you? What do you see?
We need God’s eyes to see the people around us as ripe and ready. This requires faith. We are easily tempted to put our faith in past experiences, rather than in God’s power and His Word.
Past Experiences & Bad Advice
When living in Nepal, our home was about half a mile from a Tibetan refugee camp. We didn’t work directly with Tibetans, but as we began to lead the work for our organization there, we coached teams that were focused on planting churches among them. Interacting with Christian workers focused on these groups, I often heard people say things like this. “For Tibetans to come to Christ, they need to hear the gospel at least seven times. No one ever believes after the first gospel presentation.”
While I am sure these dear colleagues were well meaning, and they were basing their statements on research of some kind, this was not helpful information. Why you may ask? Because it led to the opposite of faith. The natural conclusion was, “It will take many years before anyone will believe. The harvest among Tibetans is not ripe.”
Don’t Let Thieves Steal Your Hope
Disciple Making Movements are about finding a way to engage with what looks like a hard dirt field. Our feelings about a small harvest or a “not-yet-ripe” harvest rob us of our hope. Thoughts like these, leave us in a state of unbelief. Unbelief then leads to excuses for no longer even trying to share the gospel with those around us. Why should we share, when people are not open or ready? We justify our lack of obedience to Jesus’ command to be His witnesses. Defeat and a sense of failure grips our hearts so we give in and sometimes even feed these thoughts rather than fighting against them.
We must repent of unbelief and ask God to give us a completely new perspective. Ask the Lord to fill your heart with faith in His promises and in His Word. Allow Jesus to give you eyes to see that He is at work in the people you are trying to reach. He is actively drawing people to Himself. God has prepared people for the message you long to share. Your job, is simply to find them!
Yes, in some places, you may have to look a bit harder, and initiate more spiritual conversations before you get a response. You may need to adjust your style of sharing to more appropriately fit the context. More prayer and fasting may be needed to water the soil of your people group and area. But that doesn’t negate the truth of God’s Word. God has prepared people in your area to receive His love.
Jesus said it. We must believe it. The harvest is ripe.
Pause for a moment and ask God for fresh faith to believe this great truth.