It’s Harvest Time
AN APRIL report in the U.K. Telegraph stated that China is on course to become the world’s most Christian-populated nation within the next 15 years! A well-known statistic a few years back stated that around 30,000 people a day in China were accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. The Christian birth rate in Africa is said to be growing four times faster than overall birth rates and it is a well-known fact that more Muslim-background believers are following Jesus in the past 10 years than in the last 1,000 years. An evangelism and church planting initiative that World Outreach International helped start in N-E India some nine years ago, has seen more than 100,000 new believers from many different ethnic people groups become fervent followers of Jesus Christ and be water baptised.
The above is very encouraging – good news! The sad (or bad) news is that today, fewer Christians in developed nations are involved in reaching the lost and less than two per cent of Christian income in such countries is dedicated to world evangelism. It seems only a minority of believers know God’s unchangeable heart for reaching all who are lost.
Two thousand years back, when Jesus walked the earth with his disciples in tow, He declared in John 4:34–38, “Do you not say, four months more and then the harvest? I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” These verses and those that immediately followed, emphasise a priority, an urgency and a necessary partnership in order for any harvest to happen.
If the furthering of the kingdom of God is not number one priority in our daily lives, then when it comes to making important life decisions, we will have a very narrow worldview. If we are not focused on furthering the kingdom, we will make decisions with selfish motives. If we are focusing on the wrong things in life, then the harvest happening around us will easily pass us by.
The urgency in Jesus’ words is on the fact that harvests are seasonal events and if we don’t have a vision for the season we are living in, then God-given opportunities that come before us can easily be lost. Helen Keller, the blind author said, “the only thing that’s worse than being blind is having sight but no (kingdom) vision.”
I love the partnership that Jesus describes between the sower and the reaper. The two have clear and distinct roles to play. Helping reach and win the lost was never intended to be for a select few believers; rather the whole Body of Christ needs to look for ways to channel their combined talents, prayer, time, resources, etc, for the cause. To think we are insignificant and therefore have no role to play, can be likened to the one who buried his talent and waited for the Master to return. He received not only a heavy loss but also a damning criticism by the Master.
Kingdom-focused people, wherever they are found, are always willing to pay the price and make the necessary sacrifices in order to help influence their generation for Jesus Christ. To help make a difference in God’s kingdom plan requires a heart response versus a head one. When we have an active heart after God, we become effective partners in the harvest happening around us right now.
John is the Present Emeritus of World Outreach. He lives with his wife, Mary, in New Zealand.