When Jesus Didn’t Pray for the Harvest

Umbrian countryside

Umbrian harvest

“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few…”

The Lord has been pounding this verse into my heart lately. As a missionary, but mostly just as a follower or Jesus Christ, I daily feel the burden and the frustration for the predicament of the lost people around me. I try to share with everybody around me, from my four year old to the cashier at the grocery store. Yet so far, with the majority of them it seems I hit a wall.

Strangely, in what is probably Jesus’ most famous quote on evangelism, Jesus does not put the evangelistic priority on praying for the lost.

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:38 ESV)

Jesus makes some very interesting points about the harvest:
1. There is already a harvest. The seed has already been sown by God himself.
2. There is a shortage of laborers.
3. We are to pray earnestly to the Lord who already sowed and grew a harvest out there.
4. We are to pray specifically for the Lord to send out laborers into his harvest.

Jesus confirms this in John 4:35 when he affirms:
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

So, what stands between us and the harvest?
Prayer and laborers. And maybe even more specifically, prayer FOR laborers!

Are we to pray for laborers from another country or do we need to pray that God make laborers out of the Italian believers?
The answer is…yes.
Nevertheless, I am certain that the bulk of the work will have to be done by Italians, who are committed to reaping a harvest in their families, in their schools, at their jobs.

Our job has never been clearer: to Equip the Italian Church of the Next Generation to Reach the World for Christ.

Recently a young man in our church, exclaimed to me: “You’re right! Ever since you taught me that we are to always be ready to give an answer (I Peter 3:15), I have more opportunities to share Christ than I can handle!”.

I confess that I am not much of a street evangelist. I don’t love going door to door. But God gives me more opportunities to share Christ than I have time to tell you about. Every week someone somewhere is asking me about my faith in Christ.

People are asking the believers here in our church about their faith too…so we better be ready to help them give an answer!

Here are the outreach opportunities I’m most excited about at the moment:

Radio Outreach - Foligno

Radio Outreach – Foligno

1. A series of outreach events with the contacts from our Radio and TV ministries in Umbria: the Lake area (April 12th), Foligno (April 19th), Terni (May 24th) and Perugia (June 7th). So far the response has been overwhelming, with visitors from as far away as Tuscany!  Several of our church members helped out with this event.
2. I have had the opportunity to preach some very evangelistic messages on Sunday from First Thessalonians (about 40% or more of our church attenders are yet to make a profession).
3. We have been able to nurture several relationships with unbelievers and share the Gospel with them. In particular, we have been developing a relationship with the parents of one of Noah’s classmates from school.
4. We are working more diligently at training laborers and leaders in our church, including deacons and future pastors.
5. In June we have two major outreach events that involved the entire church body: our annual Soccer Outreach Tournament and Vacation Bible School.

The most important thing in the world you can be doing for Italy right now is praying.

As E.M. Bounds puts it in his classic work on prayer:
“On earth [Christ] lived and prayed and died for men. His life, his death and his exaltation in heaven all plead for men.
Is there any work, higher work for the disciple to do than his Lord did?
Is there any loftier employment, more honorable, more divine, than to pray for men?
To take their woes, their sins, and their perils before God; to be one with Christ?
To break the slavery which binds them, the hell which holds them and lifts them to immortality and eternal life?”

Would you pray for us and with us, that God will send his laborers into his harvest??

We have deacons

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Yesterday the church voted almost unanimously for Jeremy, Giovanni, and Nicola to be our first deacons.

It’s unsettling to delegate more responsibility away from the missionaries, but we all agree that we could not have chosen three better men for the job.
They are theologically sound and faithful in all their households and in the household of faith.

God, help them to be men that your church can count on for the future!