The HARVEST is great…

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.

Anne van Loon RN PhD

Chairperson AFCNA

A Masterpiece

One of my favourite verses has always been Ephesians 2:10.

“For you are God’s masterpiece, created through Christ Jesus to do the tasks He has prepared in advance for you to do”

Ephesians 2:10

My nursing career has taken me to all corners of the world and I have loved growing in this ministry.

Have you ever stopped to consider being a masterpiece? A masterpiece is a result of great skill, artistry and workmanship. It brings the sense of time taken for precision, careful and considered additions as time has elapsed. There is never a rush or urgency about a masterpiece but rather the finished outcome known to be well worth the time, effort and care poured gently into it.

Surely Leonardo da Vinci did whip through painting the Mona Lisa in a casual afternoon, nor The Starry Night rushed together by Vincent van Gogh before dinner.

A masterpiece is surely the result of a dynamic relationship between the creator and the created. There would have been considered time where da Vinci and van Gough stepped back, stepped forward, moved perspective, changed dimension and dabbled the exact colour on the brushes in order to create the most wonderful possibility on the canvas.

How much more does God pour into us as His masterpiece? I delight in the dynamic relationship between myself, my ever changing circumstances, my growing faith and God, my creator. Here at AFCNA our mission is to provide holistic nursing services to faith community and those around it serves and aims to prepare people to bring effective, compassionate care to the most vulnerable in our community.

I have loved nursing in several fields. After many years in Sydney hospitals and working in highly technical healthcare, the last 10 years of my career have leant towards rural and remote primary health care in PNG on medical ships and more recently international disaster response.

Looking back, I can see now how my career opportunities have all built on the previous experiences to give me better capacity to care for those in front of me with clinical confidence, calm direction and compassionate heart. My Creator has surely taken time to teach me broadly and craft my opportunities, to become closer and closer to the masterpiece He has intended for me to be in His world.

As we reflect, where is God taking you? What has He invited you into and what is important to you at the moment. May I encourage you to remember you are God’s masterpiece.

He is an active and dynamic Creator. He has nor finished with either you or me, and the possibilities are quite wonderful yet.

May we ponder on how we are bringing our faith to work, how we interact with those around us and how we can partner deeper with God to bring about on earth as it is in Heaven.

Gabi Macaulay
Chairperson AFCNA

Read examples of Gabi’s Faith in action

God-given nursing opportunities in the midst of disaster

God is at work in the dark places

Jesus – ‘Light of the world’ transforms lives

Easter is the celebration of how Jesus Christ overcame sin and spiritual darkness and death, changing our lives now and for eternity, by enabling us to live in the light and freedom of God’s love.

In many Christian traditions there is an Easter vigil service which usually begins outside in darkness at sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday outside the church. A fire is started and blessed, and from it is lit a large candle, called the ‘Paschal candle’. The people follow the paschal candle into the church, each holding a small unlit candle of their own. One by one each person lights their candle in the flame of the ‘Paschal candle’. The darkness is overwhelmed by the ever-increasing light that culminates in the lights of the church being turned on and brightness floods the auditorium.

As the darkness is transformed one light at a time, so lives are transformed by God’s light penetrating one life at a time. This beautiful visual metaphor shows us that we can transform our community, by starting with one life at a time. As each one of us goes into our community caring and sharing the healing love of Jesus in word and deed, we change lives!

The power of compassionate care can transform individuals, families, and whole communities, and even entire nations, because just as darkness can only be transformed by light, lives can be changed by experiencing the light of God’s love. This happens when each follower of Jesus Christ demonstrates that they care for people.

How can you be God’s shining light in your sphere of influence as your act of worship to Jesus Christ? How can you encourage someone to see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’? How can you show the ‘bright side’ to a difficult situation? It may require giving yourself without expectation of any return. It may involve going out of your way to support another person, or journeying the extra mile with someone, showing an attitude of grace, gratitude, forgiveness, humility, service, love.  It is not possible to sustain loving actions in your own strength, but it is possible with the empowerment of the Spirit of God who leads, guides, equips and enables you to show God’s love and show the ‘fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22).

Why not light a small ‘Paschal candle’ yourself and place it where you can see it every day, as a reminder that God is your light and your salvation. It is because of Easter and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection that light came into our world and into our lives. Let your light shine and provide light and life to others so we can influence our community and transform lives, one at a time.

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

(John 1: 4-5).

Five ways to SHINE God’s light in 2023

God is light, but you and I are HIS light bearers to bring new life. Every follower of Jesus has something to offer. 

1. Be clean

Once light breaks into darkness the darkness is gone. Once God’s light shines into your life, you get to take a clear look at yourself, and you may not like what you see! You may find the light is dim for a while, but you’re not alone, we all have dark voids that God’s light needs to fill.

You may find stuff from your past is now visible to you. Deeply held secrets, feelings of shame over past actions, struggles, sins, and hurts, may be brought to light. These are all part of our former darkness and God promises to remove them or use them, so talk to God about those things. Ask God to release and remove them and use those experiences to bring new light and life to others.

“If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.”  (1 John 1:8-9, NCV)

If this is difficult to do find a trusted Christian pastor or counsellor to talk through your past struggles. The darkness will go and you will be a new person empowered by the spirit of God to shine his light in special ways that only you can do!

2. Be yourself

No-one likes a fake, and our world is bursting with fake news and fake people. Be genuine, be real. Don’t try to be like another person, just be yourself.  God makes each person unique, right down to their finger prints, and God gives each person unique gifts to use in personalised tasks that God has called you to do. When you are authentic you shine the light of God and then God can work through you.

“For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”

(Romans 11:29, NIV)

God gives you gifts and he gives you a personal call and that can never be withdrawn by anyone or anything!

Use what you have learnt through life wisely, allowing it to bring understanding, hope and compassion to your interactions with people in dark places.   

3. Be there

We have all been in dark places and when you think back to the people who were most helpful, how were they and what were they doing? In most cases it is the person who has taken the time to be there, to listen, to show they care, to pray, to be present, to cry with, to laugh with, to reminisce with…  Just be there for one another and show you care.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-5 (ESV)

You may think I have no idea what to say? Well you are in good company! Many of the most well-known people in the Bible said the same thing to God! It’s a good thing, because it allows us to be humbly present and listen. It makes us lean on God and not on our own knowledge or experience. I often go back to Moses being told by God to go and tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. Moses was shocked and basically said to God “Are you kidding? Not me! Send Aaron! He’s got the gift of the gab! He’s the man with the mouth, not me! God patiently reminds Moses it is his job and he is not going alone. God would give Moses the words to speak at the right time. God tells Moses, “Who made your mouth? I did. Now go. I will help you speak and teach you what to say” (Exodus 4:12).

I have said that phrase to myself a lot of times in my life, “Who made your mouth!” When you are afraid and you don’t know what to say, just be there and make this your mantra as you let God use you as his mouth piece in 2023. 

4. Be encouraging

There are so many ways we can encourage one another. A kind and timely word, saying thanks, giving reassurance, a word of praise, reminding them of God’s promises, providing inspiration, a word of hope, showing you care, lifting someone’s spirits, recognising their strengths, boosting their morale, a word of comfort and support. 

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but  encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

(Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)

Let them know you’ve got their back, you believe in them, you’re there with them via prayer, a text, a phone call, a notelet, a meal, a gift, a job done, an action taken, a positive social media comment, a warm response… Start by reaching out to friends, family and those within your sphere of influence.

5. Be a doer

I recently got a new mobile phone, and to say I could only use it in a limited way would be an understatement. I needed to read the manual, ask family (aka grandson), call friends re the best apps to make life easier, and I go back to the manual every time a new issue crops up to work out what to do. It’s the same for doing God’s will and His work.

“Do what God’s teaching says; when you only listen and do nothing, you are fooling yourselves.”

(James 1:2, NCV)

To be a doer of God’s word you have to know what’s in it! God’s promises are true and His words instructive. They provide everything we need to live in God’s way and shine His light in the darkness. It’s not right to hide that light, God’s gift of life is free and for all and we have to share it and shine it into the world. We do that best when we show up as our authentic self, using Gods’ unique gifts and personal call for each one of us, to attend in the tougher dark spaces of another person’s life, with careful, listening, encouraging words, and compassionate action.

Let’s light up our community and our world with God’s love, so everyone has the chance to be, become and live – a full and flourishing life. 

If you would like to join us and ‘be the change you want to see in your faith community’, then find out how

Author:  Anne van Loon RN PhD, Feb 2023

Sowing the seeds of God’s love

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. 15:10,58).

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.

Sow thoughts, harvest actions
Sow actions, harvest habits
Sow habits, harvest character
Sow character, harvest lifestyle
Sow lifestyle, harvest destiny

So make sure you are sowing God’s true-to-type seeds of love and your harvest will be abundant life – now and for eternity.

Dr Anne van Loon, Chairperson AFCNA

When the ‘crop’ has a virus, go to the LORD of the Harvest!

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.'”

Matthew 9:36-38

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 rescue you.”

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,

The fields have been planted and the harvest is ready

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?

Dr Anne van Loon, Chairperson AFCNA

God is LORD of the Harvest

In Scripture we see that the whole harvest belongs to the LORD. He graciously nourishes and provides us with the fruits of His harvest and He expects us to bless others with His harvest fruits.

We experience the blessing and nurture of the LORD’s harvest via His gifts, such as food, water, the natural creation, shelter, employment, income, love of family, friends and church family, acquisition of education to live and grow our knowledge and skills… His harvest provides all of the things we need to live an abundant life and thrive, experiencing harvest contentment and whole health. His blessings fill us physically, mentally, spiritually, and relationally and enable us to live in the experience of HARVEST! Doesn’t it fill your life with gratitude and praise for our LORD, the LORD of the harvest?

When we recognise that God is the LORD of the harvest, it must surely alter the way we live our lives and direct the way we use and SHARE His harvest fruits, given to us so we can thrive and bless others. Our gifts of a home, food, money, knowledge, skills, employment, friendships, relationships and the whole health we experience in family and community are gifted to us to steward and share with other people and BLESS our world.

God is LORD of your harvest and the whole harvest belongs to Him. How can you bless the world with your time, talent, knowledge, friendship, your home, food and money? It is a question we must all take time to ponder, because we don’t have to look far to see injustice, poverty, starvation, sickness, war and distress… and we have been given the harvest fruits to bless others so they can experience God’s love.

The SARS Covid BA.2 sub-variant is spreading across our continent with stealth,[1] creating health and wellbeing problems for many people and significant challenges for our health and community care systems. Many churches are experiencing reduced attendances in worship services and a reduction in community activities.[2] The rapid increase in inflation is placing pressure on household incomes and consequently the income of charities, community services and faith communities. Community groups report a reduction in volunteering and many churches are also dealing with this sad trend.[3] We are surrounded by stressful situations, environmental catastrophes, violence, conflict and war across the world. It can lead us to feel tired and defeated, but we are not powerless in the face of all of this trouble. We need to remember God is LORD of the harvest and He will provide.

We must continue to focus on blessing others with God’s harvest fruits/seeds that demonstrate His love. We are God’s body, His hands and feet, head and heart…  to lavishly sow His love into the lives of all. God is responsible for the growth of the seeds we sow, which in His time will produce a harvest.

God calls and sends out the harvest workers, but we are to earnestly ask God to send out the workers to reap His harvest (Matthew 9:38). God’s harvest fields across the globe are full of people looking for help, hope and whole health. In John 4:35b Jesus tells His disciples “…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!” The question we need to answer for ourselves is ‘How and where is the Lord calling me to be his harvest worker?’

Dr Anne van Loon, Chairperson AFCNA

[1] Truu,M. 2022, ‘With the new BA.2 COVID sub-variant spreading rapidly, what will Australia’s colder months look like?’,

[2] Wang, W., & Elhage A 2022, ‘Here’s Who Stopped Going to Church During the Pandemic’, Christianity Today,

[3]  Pillay, J., 2020, ‘COVID-19 Shows the Need to Make Church More Flexible’, Transformation 2020, Vol. 37(4) 266 –275,