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’?
Matthew 9:35-38, NLT
“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.”
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