I was disagreeing with someone close to me concerning our church’s focus on doing a lot of outreach ministry. Outreach means bringing the people not born again into Christ. I was of the opinion that inward ministry should take a larger percentage of the focus. We never agreed.
The reason why I thought growing the people already in Christ should be of focus is because, I get sad when I look into the church and see young people struggling with basic Christian concepts. Not that I’ve matured personally, but I was born again for over a decade yet I only came to personalize my relationship with God like two years ago. Like we are in God but we don’t fully grasp this God of ours. And as much as growth is personal, we all need some sort of direction or guidance. The major steps my faith has taken were at least influenced by a sermon, a Christian book or just a different point of view I heard that made me question my way of doing things.
On the other side, I also do get that it would be a sad day in heaven realising that your roommate didn’t make it there. Or that Mama wa Mboga you used to buy your veggies from. Imagine knowing you can save someone from a dying life to a life of abundance both here on earth and after? Imagine your sister burning yet you could have done something? So I do get why getting out there and evangelising is important. I mean, someone preached to me for me to get born again.
So as I continue reading my book, With Christ in School of Prayer, I get to a chapter where Christ told us what to pray for exactly.
You see, Jesus taught us how to pray, or at least gave us an example. He also explained aspects of prayer, like it should be in private, and whatever we ask for, we shall receive. He didn’t seem interested in what we are to pray for, he left that for us to figure out.
Except one thing. There is a specific prayer request that Christ asked us to take before the Lord. Jesus looked at the multitude following him, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and thus turned to his disciples and gave then this prayer request; the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.
For a man who had so much compassion as to feed 5000 men, and heal the sick and even have a woman get healed by touching his cloak, the above request to his disciples sounds fishy to say the least. Why didn’t he pray for these harvests himself? And focusing on God, Jesus here refers to him as The Lord of Harvest. Assume its a farm, and you are a farmer, why would you need to be petitioned to send out labourers for your own harvest? How much sense does this make?
Unless there is something about how heaven and earth work that we don’t know. Remember in the Lord’s prayer here, we saw Jesus asking us to pray that God’s kingdom come on earth, and now we are praying that The Lord of Harvest sends forth more labourers.
Looking at what Jesus keeps on saying about prayer, it means prayers are the channels through which God works on earth. Like unless we pray, God’s kingdom won’t come on earth. Unless we pray, the harvest will perish. Its actually that serious. Like God won’t decide to do these things unless we pray for them. God had these big plans for earth that will only come to be if Mercy and Jane and John pray for them. Like that’s a huge responsibility upon our shoulders. In simple terms, God wasn’t just calling us to be his kids, calling ourselves queens of the Most High as we strut around on earth, He was also calling us to be co-labourers with Him. To work with Him. Together.
This is not one of those places where you leave some people to work while some idle. I used to hate being given communal work at times when I was young( he he, I’m now older). Reason being, some people wouldn’t do the work. They would run around as if working and then come bragging later on how they didn’t do the work. I’m one of those people who can’t refuse to work if given work. So that used to really displease me because I felt as if someone was taking advantage of me plus the other ‘good’ people. But you know what? By the end of the day, the work got done, whether half of us didn’t do or did it.
But from the way Jesus is talking hapa, you can imagine if the harvest is as big as He puts it, it means that if Sharon works and Mercy doesn’t, part of the harvest is going to perish. Like by the time we are being asked to ask for more labourers it means Jesus knew even if the available ones worked 24/7/365, bado. More would still be needed. Its not like how we do communal work where some work and some don’t but the work is finished. Hapa its all of us.
You know I’m imagining the tragedy that is already there. First of all, how many of us are labourers in the Kingdom of God? Hands up. Do you realise that you can’t notice the harvest is plenty unless you are in the field harvesting? Like the people in their houses have no idea on the state of the harvest in the farm. We can’t be asking for more labourers unless we are labouring already.
And there is where my discussion about outreach ministry and in reach ministry come in. You see, how many Christians out there understand that it is the duty of everyone to evangelize? That its not just pastors but everyone at their work station? Be it an engineer, hustler, businesswoman, doctor etc. And evangelising doesn’t necessarily mean going out there and preaching like a street preacher. You use what God has given you. If you cook or organize things well, take it to God and ask Him to use it for Kingdom harvest.
Now, to be a labourer in God’s house means you have to share in His heart. Like you have to be compassionate about the things Christ is compassionate about. And you can’t do that unless your faith grows. A child is said to be mature when they start helping their parents around. And a 2 year old can’t help around in the house. But a 10year old can do some house chores. And a 17 year old can learn about the family business and how its run. Its just the way it is. Though some kids mature earlier than others. But maturity goes hand in hand with the kind of work one can be entrusted with.
Now imagine if almost all people in God’s house saa hii are 2year olds spiritually. Like they are in need of being taken care of. They haven’t yet reached to a point where their prayers are not about me, myself and the promises God gave me. Not that there is anything wrong with God’s promises, but there is more to being God’s child than what the King of Kings can give you.
I was watching some movie based on Esther, and I loved a line she used. When she went to see the king and every lady was going to be given a present for being in the kings presence, for her she differed. She said that she had been taught that when you go to see a King, you carry a present. You don’t go to the king empty handed. Whereas every other person was thinking, “What can I get from the King?”, she thought , ” What can I give to the King?”.
And maybe that’s part of maturing in Christ. Where we move from, “God do this for me, my family etc” to “God, what would you have me do for you?“.
The only way to share a heart of God, is to grow in Him. Its like a relationship or friendship. When you start out, you both say what you are passionate about. The other person just listens and smiles and you go on in knowing each other. But with time, as you get closer , you get more involved in each others life. You move from knowing what Mercy is passionate about, to asking her what she is doing about it and finally and most importantly to taking part in ensuring Mercy’s dream come true. You couldn’t start from being involved from day one, why? You didn’t even know the principles Mercy operates under.
Same thing, how many of us are shocked to learn that God is passionate about sinners? See, no one. How many know what God’s plan is for the people who are not yet in Christ? Again, we all know God desires to expand this kingdom on earth. Now, how many of us are praying that God sends more labourers? I can see most of our hands went down. Yet, that is our role in ensuring that these souls around us get a shepherd. That plan we thought we knew about God and sinners, imagine its not coming to pass unless we all take part in it.
So I have come to realise, that reaching the people outside and growing the people inside entirely depend on each other. A 100%. You won’t achieve outreach ministry if your flock isn’t maturing. Because these are the labourers that you are praying for when you go out there and see how the harvest is a lot and the labourers few. You grow the flock, they will reach a point where they’ll all be passionate about the harvest and in the process via their prayers, more labourers shall be added.
What are we praying for? Do our prayers reflect people who understand and know God’s heart? Let us pray that God grows us. That He matures us spiritually. And also let us pray for the Lord of The Harvest to send more labourers. Because our prayers change things. He gave us his word that when we ask we shall receive.
To pray is to change.