“Then he said to his disciples, ‘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 9:37,38)
As we begin a new year I am filled with excitement at what God will do in the next several months. I realize that it is normal to start each year with new hope, but wouldn’t you agree that we are about to experience some of the greatest times of harvest that we have seen? By every measurement last year was a year of great advances by the Kingdom of God. We and the church in Latin America Caribbean continued our focus on church planting, the training of workers and on sending them to the harvest fields of the world. This is what we do. This is what we are all about.
Our network of Bible Schools and educational ministries continues their foundational and mission critical task of preparing the best workers the ripe harvest fields of our region are demanding. How can we not see the ripe harvest fields that Jesus saw and pray as He says when we think of the 1,354 schools in LAC. Or as we consider the 46,616 students that you trained last year. These students need to be as prepared, or better prepared, than ever before. The demands of the harvest cause Jesus’ words about the harvest to resonate and speak to us today.
Consider the passion and urgency of the words of Jesus in Matthew 9. His words are recorded for us after healing a paralytic, calling Matthew, from among many tax collectors and sinners to join him, healing the woman of a hemorrhage, raising a girl to life, healing two blind men and another that was mute. It was clear to Him that the great multitude of people that were lost and suffering would come into His kingdom if there were just more workers. If only the number of qualified teachers for this spiritual work were more. Today the need continues to be for more workers, for more educators. The demand of the harvest for trained workers is no less urgent today than it was when Jesus told us to lift up our eyes and see what He saw.
In John 4:35 Jesus says, “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.”
Notice that the harvest is not described as easy or difficult. Nor is there a calculation of how reached the harvest is or is not. Jesus saw those that needed healing, deliverance, solid teaching and a Savior and asked that we just lift up our eyes and see what He sees. He sees a harvest just waiting for more workers. To see more clearly what He sees will we pray as Jesus teaches for more workers? Will we pray for the students that we are teaching in our Bible School classes? Will we pray for the new missionaries that God is calling to LAC? Will we pray that God will raise up a new generation of missionary educators to prepare the next generation of harvest workers? The harvest demands that we passionately pray for more workers!
The harvest is still ripe and I’d say that the need for workers has actually increased. Our LAC focus on training will prepare the workers the national church is expecting and needing. Missionaries, evangelists, pastors and teachers are sitting at the desks of our Bible Schools, of ISUM and of FACULTAD. I challenge us to set our educational standards bar high, that we demand excellence from each student, that we not make concessions or lower the bar when the need is for better prepared ministers than ever before. In our own response to the readiness of the harvest let’s pass on knowledge but also develop in each student a desperate hunger for God’s Word. Let’s give the Holy Spirit every opportunity to minister to the students through the teaching of His Word. Let’s make sure we are training workers for the harvest that are fully Pentecostal, anointed and missional preachers and teachers of God’s Word. They need to not only be able to quote “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, …” (Zech. 4:6) but to learn to depend on the Word of God and to minister by His Spirit. Our teaching should lead each student to greater dependence on Him, both in knowledge and confidence in His Word and also of the fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Neglecting our responsibility to train others in the Word weakens us doctrinally, decreases our sensitivity to God, we become frail in our Pentecostal experience, and we are debilitated in our response to God’s heart for the world. Today’s harvest demands that our focus will be more on what He cares about most and less on what we care about most.
As a boy I grew up in Latin America Caribbean where my parents were missionaries that planted churches and taught in the Bible School. I have heard my dad and mom indicate the satisfaction they felt training that generation of students. Those students became my friends and I would one day serve alongside them. When Carol and I left for the mission field we started campus ministry, two churches and taught at one of the residential Bible Schools in the country. Each of these experiences was uniquely special to us. Although I do not consider myself an educator of the caliber of those I think of as I write, it was still a very special time to speak in to the lives of future workers in the harvest fields. Those relationships that we developed in class, in prayer, in nudging ourselves to experience more of God continue to be significant in our lives to this day. In everything we did on the field we were active in making disciples but at the Bible School we realized we were investing our lives in those of men and women called by the Holy Spirit to face the enemy in battle and start churches, do evangelistic services and go on to be educators themselves. I would strongly encourage you that do other ministry, if asked by a colleague that is an educator, to teach that you find a way to accept the opportunity. Today’s harvest demands that all of us follow the words of Jesus to see the harvest, to pray for workers and be the answer to those prayers!
Every generation needs God’s Word freshly planted in their hearts in order to clearly see how ripe the harvest is, to see that people are lost without Christ but that God is calling us to love the world as He loves the world. As you open up God’s Word to this generation you will help them see what Jesus sees. And when we see what He sees we pray for the additional workers that the harvest demands. Today we need teachers and educators in LAC that help their students to see, to pray and to respond to the demands of today’s harvest. Today’s harvest demands our best as we train the next generation!
I am very thankful for each of our Spirit-filled educators for challenging us to follow after God’s Word including the Lords plea to recognize the harvest, to pray for workers and train them to be what the harvest is demanding.
My prayer for all of us is that there will an increase in intercultural workers being sent to Latin America Caribbean. Pray with me for a growing number of them to be intercultural educators! Yes, we need more churches and I am just as passionate about the need to plant new churches. But we need more pastors to lead these new communities of faith that will be started. These pastors need to have a strong and healthy theology, ecclesiology and missiology. Encourage colleagues, friends and your donors to join you in prayer for more workers for the harvest fields, for more missionary educators. LAC educators, I pray for you and thank God for your ministry as trainers to the harvest workers. You have a strategic role to play in today’s demand of the harvest!