As Christians we need to sow all the good we can, by all the means
we can, in all the ways we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we
can, as long as ever we can. [Paraphrased quote by John Wesley] Then we leave the
results with God knowing that we never labour for God in vain (1 Cor.
The harvest is best actioned by many people working
together. Some are involved in preparing the ground, others in sowing, others
in feeding and nurturing, others in protecting the harvest from disease, and
others in reaping, but the LORD of the harvest is always at work bringing the
increase of the seeds we have sown, according to His purposes (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
Remember we reap the seeds we have sown and they stay true
to type. Therefore we need to ensure we sow actions and words of kindness,
love, grace, mercy, hope and encouragement… sow these generously.
If we sow seeds that are not the ones true to God values, we
will reap the fruits of those seeds – hurt, struggle, discontent, frustration,
failure (Eph 4; 17-19). It is easy done when we are not mindful about what we are
doing. We can become tired and frustrated and sow seeds that have barbs on them
that hurt others. When this happens be quick to remove the seed, if you can.
When you cannot, you must apologise for your hurt so the seed does not grow and
destroy the relationship. We cannot sow love until we have acknowledged our
wrongdoing to the person we have hurt, asked for forgiveness from the person
and God, and taken action to ensure we don’t sow the same seed again
(repented). Then we can once again carefully sow seeds of love again to
cultivate and restore the relationship.
In the past 4 months I’ve have had Influenza A, Covid – BA.2, an RSV virus and I’m currently fighting the fourth viral illness! These viruses are stealthily moving through our world, creating health and wellbeing challenges for many and placing significant pressure on health and community care systems. They are impacting churches and community services with reduced worship service attendance, diminished volunteering, and a reduction in community activities.[1 At the August World Forum meeting of Faith Community Nursing leaders, everyone present (via Zoom) said their country was facing growing increased community angst and a surge in mental distress regarding global inflation, fear of war and global conflicts, environmental catastrophes and other factors beyond their control that were placing pressure on household incomes, food supply – especially to poorer countries, and threatening global stability and peace
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”
I couldn’t help thinking ‘the harvest is under attack
from virus and pestilence’, but rather than feel
harassed and helpless in the face of all this trouble, we
need to go to the LORD of the harvest because he
knows His crop and he has promised if we ask him He
will provide the workers.
I sense a great deal of fatigue amongst Christians and I
understand it can be difficult to feel energetic and inspired
to help others when you are tired and struggling yourself.
However, we are not reaping this harvest in our own
energy, and if we try to do that, we will fail. The good news is that we have the power of the LORD of
the universe residing within us, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his
good purpose.” (Philippians 2:3, NIV) and in Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) “Even to your old age and gray hairs I
am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will
I look around me at a world in despair, Where love, hope, peace and joy, are becoming quite rare, People’s lives are anxious, full of sadness and fear, The war, unrest and disease make us all shed a tear. They’re losing zeal and their future holds little intrigue, They’re stressed and worried, and have Covid fatigue. Oh LORD restore hope and enter their lives Bring them a future in which they can thrive. Fulfil your promises of strength, hope and release, Send forth harvest workers as your people of peace
Dr Anne van Loon, Chairperson AFCNA
1 Wang, W., & Elhage A 2022, ‘Here’s Who Stopped Going to Church During the Pandemic’, Christianity Today, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/january-web-only/attendance-decline-covid-pandemic-church.html
I recently drove through Eyre Peninsula in South Australia to see hundreds of large fields of wheat and barley growing with vigour. The canola fields were flowering and looked amazing and I was reminded again that we can prepare the soil, we can plant the seed, but the LORD gives the growth – the rain, sun, warmth and nutrients which enable the growth. I thought, ‘in 4 months there will be a harvest that feeds so many…’
As I reflected on this I remembered again that God tells us don’t wait 4 months to think about harvesting, but “…open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35b) NOW! Having rural family members I know that the time between sowing and harvesting is when farmers takes a well earnt rest and usually take a break. But Jesus is saying, sow and get yourself ready to reap!
Earlier in the same chapter (John 4:13-14) Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well and said “Everyone who drinks this [well] water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again. The water I give people will be like a spring flowing inside them. It will bring them eternal life.” That was quite the promise in their desert landscape, so she raced off to let others know about Jesus and many in the village came to Jesus to find out more. The harvest of people coming to faith began immediately.
If we are going to wait for the perfect time to commence the ministries God is calling us to, we may miss the harvest opportunity altogether! The scene in Samaria finishes – “Many more people became believers because of the things he [Jesus] said. The people said to the woman, “First we believed in Jesus because of what you told us. But now we believe because we heard him ourselves. We know now that he really is the one who will save the world.” (John 4:41-42)
This is the same Jesus we serve today. He does not change and He will enable His harvest to be brought in if we are obedient to His call. Jesus tells His disciples, to “open your eyes” so you can see people and their circumstances, and seize every opportunity to bring the hope, love and life that Jesus Christ offers them in their situation.
Many people today are living in a parched desert landscape mentally, socially, physically and spiritually. They are thirsting for connection, for ‘living water’ and a ‘wellspring of life’ within them. Christians have good news for the many hopeless in our world and we need to be alert and ready to reap God’s harvest before the opportunities pass.
We must let others experience God’s love in our caring faith communities, sharing our inspiring and life-giving stories of faith, hope, healing and health, whenever the occasion arises. Are you willing to look carefully at the harvest field God has placed you in and really see where the LORD of the harvest wants you to reap the harvest for Him?
In the past couple of years watching the world news has become challenging.
I feel huge disappointment in our world leaders. I experience heart break and sometimes
angst for the people of our world as war, the COVID-19 pandemic, famine,
climate change; natural disasters, human injustice and violence abound across our
world. It has led me to ask myself what does it mean for me to be a follower of
Jesus in today’s world. How can I make a difference where I am? What can I do
to be a person of peace and show LOVE for my neighbours?
I have been led time and again to Matthew 9:35-38 and
pondered on this passage of scripture to
consider what it means ‘for such a time as this’?
“Jesus travelled throughout all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News of the kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”
Matthew 9:35-38, NLT
I’d like to share a few nudges I have received that caught my attention
over many readings, re-readings and reflection on this passage. I invite you to
do the same and see how the Spirit of God is prompting you.
First I noticed Jesus moved into his neighbourhood and went into all the villages. He went looking
for the opportunities and people to teach and minister to! So I need to look
for opportunities too!
His primary task was to announce the GOOD NEWS that God’s kingdom had
come to earth for EVERYONE. He didn’t just talk about it, he demonstrated it by
healing people from EVERY illness and disease. His message is for everyone
and I need to ensure that my life is not just talking about the good news, but
BEING GOOD NEWS! The awesome fact is that the same power at work in Jesus is given
to each genuine follower of Jesus today and to his church! The Spirit of God lives
within you and me, so we can action God’s kingdom change in that power and not by
our own strength and boy that is really GOOD NEWS to me!
I marvel that Jesus has such deep empathy for the huge needs the people have. The fact the people had nowhere to get help for their needs filled him with gut wrenching compassion. He didn’t say “How sad. I am so sorry for your situation and I hope things get better for you, but I’m busy with an important message to preach and meetings to attend, so someone else will have to help you.” Jesus’ deep compassion compelled him to immediate and life changing action! I want that compelling motivation to drive my faith and actions every day.
Jesus noted that the “harvest is so great but the workers are so few.” This is also true today. We live in world full of deep need. There are mission and ministry possibilities everywhere, yet it appears to me as if many Christian churches are more concerned about sharing the message (word) than actioning the ministry (deed). The global pandemic, natural disasters, war and injustice has led many people to become inward-focused. I notice fatigue and generalised malaise in people from every walk of life. I wonder if it is also true for many Christians and churches. Volunteering appears to have dropped significantly and declining church attendance is not yet bouncing back since pandemic restrictions have lifted. The health guidelines to manage the impact of the pandemic have led churches to focus their time, resources and attention, to pivoting to the online environment. I wonder if an adverse outcome of this focus is the defragmenting of faith community care. A body cannot function as independent organs. The body only works when it is whole. The church only functions effectively and efficiently when it joined together by the life-blood of Christ and moves as a unified whole entity. I am praying that our churches can realign their focus to reconnecting and healing the body of Christ – the church- so it is enabled to bring healing to our broken world. I am praying that the LORD will call more workers to reap His harvest and send them forth into local fields and fields across the globe!
I am eternally grateful that the Lord is “in charge of the harvest” and I know that he will call people, he will equip people, he will empower people and he will enable the harvest to be brought in, at the right time. That takes away the work burden and gives me freedom to serve, because I am empowered by the Spirit of God to do it and keep doing it until the harvest is complete.
Will you please join me in earnest prayer and ask “…the Lord who is in charge of the harvest… to send out more workers for his fields” via Faith Community Nurses and Faith Community Care providers?I believe AFCNA has an important mission and ministry that our churches sorely need. Please pray that our churches will see this and that indifference, fatigue and conflict will be exchanged for action, empowerment, and willingness to bring God’s shalom to our churches, our communities, our nation and our world. Finally, ask God how He might want to equip you and use you to help with the harvest with your unique gifts, strengths, skills and knowledge.
Lord, you are in charge of the harvest, fill me with your compassion for the vulnerable. Send me and many others to work in your harvest field. Equip me with your gracious gifts. Empower me with your Holy Spirit. Let me be your healing LOVE in action, bringing hope and whole health to all to whom you send me. Father, let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Anne van Loon RN PhD
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