It’s Harvest Time
Hugh Wesley Carrington, Ph.D.
Jesus is coming soon! For many of us, we’ve heard this so many times, from so many individuals, and on so many occasions. Like those who become numb to violence or immune to specific medications, some Christians have become desensitized to the impending return of Jesus. It’s not that we’ve forsaken our faith and are no longer anticipating His return, we’re just not as eager and we’ve become complacent. It’s just another sermon, Bible study, or discussion on the Second Coming—we’ve heard it before. Consequently, hearing and talking about His imminent return has become commonplace—it’s business as usual.
The meaning and significance associated with His return is not what it used to be. Accordingly, we’re not as enthusiastic and we don’t tell anyone to expect His return—we don’t witness. To stem this tide of desensitization, it’s important that we do things differently. I’m calling us to prayer as we prepare for Christ’s Second Coming.
Matthew, in chapters 4 and 9 respectively, describes the first and second evangelistic tours of Jesus. In all that Jesus did on these tours, His main objective was to harvest souls for His kingdom. As Christians who will no longer engage in business as usual, harvesting must also be our main objective. Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from its fields. It’s hard work. Moreover, farmers will tell you that there is a specific time of year and a specific process to harvesting. You can’t just harvest when you want to and how you want to—there is an ideal time and a correct process to harvesting. So, Jesus commands us to pray.
Matthew 9:38 says, “Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest” (GNT).
While the needs of the community were countless, and many souls were waiting to be reached—to be harvested—Jesus’ instructions to His disciples were to pray. If you’re not praying about the harvest sincerely, it’s not a priority to you. Some of us are not praying sincerely for family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Why? Their soul salvation is not a priority to us. As a result, those who are unchurched and under-churched in our communities remain in their current state.
This text is condemning to us as Christians because we're trying to do everything else to gather in God’s harvest but pray. We want to preach, teach, heal, sing, and conduct community outreach (all good things), but if we're not obedient to His instructions to pray, we will not have sufficient workers for the abundant harvest.
God, in His wisdom, tells us to first pray. This removes the harvesting process from the physical realm and places it in the spiritual realm. Jesus preached, He taught, He healed, He showed compassion, He even restored the dead to life, but He knew that prayer would accomplish much more in the harvesting process than all those things combined. The volume of the harvest is determined by our prayers.
As Christians, we sing a hymn in anticipation of the completion of the harvest and our harvest celebration. The refrain says: “When we all get to heaven.” But we all don’t get to heaven. Because we’re not praying, souls are being lost. Our lack of prayer also delays the harvest festival. The refrain continues: “What a day of rejoicing that will be!” That day of rejoicing is delayed because we’re not praying.
We’ve sung this hymn so many times, yet we’ve failed to grasp the implication of its words. When we’re so desensitized to the coming of Jesus, good fruit is left to rot on the vine. As a result, we all don’t get to heaven and we delay the celebration. It’s harvest time, time for business unusual. Are you preparing for the Second Coming? Are you praying?
Jesus is Real…Are We?
by Ray Young
We live in a strange world. These days, it's hard to decipher what's truth and what's not. The internet is full of misinformation. There’s fake news and alternative facts. Things are upside down. 2+2 isn't 4 anymore—it's whatever you think it is. We often don't know who to trust or who to believe.
So one evening, when I pulled into a Shell gas station to fill up my van as I do every day after work, I was suspicious to see a man approach me.
I own a couple of vehicles for a shuttle service that transports clients between Metro Detroit Airport and Ann Arbor. Every evening, I fill up my van so I don't have to worry about gas the following day. Pulling into that gas station is normal; what's not normal is for someone to approach me.
The stranger said, "Sir, I'm broke. I need some gas to get home, can you please help me?" For a moment I thought, am I being played? Is this guy for real or is he a fake? I went into my pocket and pulled out my money wrapped in a red rubber band. On top was a fifty-dollar bill. I looked at it for a second, then moved to the next bill which was a twenty-dollar note and gave it to him. The man’s face lit up with surprise. He stretched out his hand and shook mine vigorously, smiling and saying, "Thank you so much!"
I drove off feeling very good that I brought a smile to a stranger's face. When I later shared the experience with my wife, Debbie, her reaction was, you did what? She said, "I probably would have given him a five, but good for you.” I imagine that's what most people would have done—especially for a person they didn't know.
That same evening, when I was changing my clothes and hanging up my shirt, a twenty-dollar bill fell to the floor. I do not put money in my shirt pockets because it can easily fall out. How did that twenty-dollar bill get in there? I looked at it for a while and then smiled. It had to be Divine.
This experience made me think a lot. First, we serve a living, awesome God. Second, He cares about each of us and often blesses us so we can bless others. Third, we are on earth to be a blessing to others. Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (KJV). Finally, I was reminded that when someone needs help, we are called to help, not judge. Make yourself a living example of the love of Christ. A simple act of kindness can change someone's life. This is not fake, it's real.
The Bookrack of my Dreams
The author’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
W ho is this man? I wondered as I watched the festivities celebrating the life of John Wesley. My family and I had recently moved from the Middle East to England where we’d opened a fish and chips shop in the town of Wesley’s birth. I’d never heard of this cofounder of the Methodist Church. In fact, I knew almost nothing about Christianity. As I researched Wesley on the Internet, I felt my heart open a little to the Christian faith. Three years later, my family sold the shop, and I got a job at a supermarket. One day, I noticed my coworker, Yusuf*, bowing his head before eating his meal.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m thanking Jesus for my food,” he replied. “Do you know Jesus, Altan?”
“Only that he was a prophet,” I said.
“Would you like to know more?”
“Sure, why not?” I responded.
A couple of days later, Yusuf’s pastor came to visit me at the market. He greeted me warmly, and then, to my surprise, handed me a present.
I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and unwrapped a New Testament Bible.
“What is a Bible?” I asked. “And what is a New Testament?”
“You’ll have to read it to understand,” he replied, a little mischievously.
I couldn’t sleep that night because I kept thinking about the Bible. What is it about? I wondered. Why did the pastor give it to me? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out because I’d left the Bible at work. The next day, Yusuf invited me to begin reading the Bible with him. We finished Matthew within a few days and then read Mark and Luke. “Something’s happening inside me,” I confided to Yusuf one day at work.
“What is it?” he probed.
“I’m not sure how to explain it, but I feel something stirring my heart since we’ve started reading the Bible.”
“Go to the storage room,” he said, “lock the door, and try to say the word repent.”
In the storage room, I repeated the word “repent” several times and then suddenly began to cry. For half an hour, I poured out my heart to God, asking Him to forgive my sins, until I heard a soft knock on the door.
“Altan,” Yusuf said, laying his hand on my shoulder, “Jesus has given you His Holy Spirit. That’s why you’ve been able to repent of your sins.”
I surrendered my heart to Jesus that day and committed my life to serving Him. Yusuf and I went to church together the following Sunday. The congregation welcomed me with open arms, and after the service, I told the pastor that I wanted to be baptized. He studied the Bible with me, and several months later, I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It was the happiest day of my life!
I loved my church family and was eagerly involved in evangelism, but after three years, I found myself feeling dissatisfied with the church services. We spent most of our time singing and very little time studying God’s Word. “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to grow stronger in my relationship with You. Please help me to do so.”
Soon, I began having an unusual dream. In it, I saw a building in the city of my homeland. In the doorway was a bookrack filled with free books. I heard a voice tell me to go there. The next day, I tried to put the dream out of my mind, but it was useless. The Holy Spirit kept pushing me to buy a plane ticket, and I couldn’t sleep at night.
Finally, I prayed, “OK, Lord, I will do as you say.”
When I arrived in my home city, I prayed, “Lord, what should I do now?”
Suddenly, I saw a soft light, and I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Follow the light straight ahead and then turn right.” I followed the light until I came upon a small building. In the doorway was the bookrack that I had seen in my dream! Then the light rested on one of the books. “This is the book I sent you to get,” the Holy Spirit said. “Take it.”
I took the book and read it in three days. Written by Ellen White, it was about the great controversy between Christ and Satan. “Lord,” I cried, as I poured over its pages, “thank you so much. This is what I’ve been looking for!”
I researched Ellen White on the Internet, and as I learned about her books, ministry, and co-founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I thought, “Wow, these are the books I want to read, and this is the church I want to join.”
There was an address for a local Adventist church in the front cover of the book, and, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I visited the next Sabbath. The pastor gave me more books by Ellen White, and when I told him that I’d be leaving for London soon, he also gave me the name and number of an Adventist pastor there. When I returned to London, I studied with this pastor and eventually became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Several months ago, I returned to my city in the Middle East. Imagine my surprise when on a ferry, I again met the pastor who had given me the books by Ellen White. He explained that the bookrack was part of a Global Mission project called Urban Center of Influence (UCI) and introduced me to the Global Mission pioneer who worked there. Then he invited me to work with the pioneer in my spare time.
In my country, it’s illegal to approach people to talk about your faith. They must come to you and ask. That’s why the bookrack is in the doorway, inviting people to take books and Bibles. Never did I imagine when I saw the bookrack in my dreams that soon I would be standing beside it, talking and praying with people and answering their questions about God! Together, the pioneer and I have planted a new group of believers.
For now, God has given me a new dream to win more hearts for Him in this city and start many more churches here. But He has given me an even bigger dream for the future. I want to plant thousands of churches for Jesus throughout the Middle East. Please pray that the Lord will use me to make this dream come true.