In Taiwan, I
constantly see God’s harvest through the eyes of the students at Holy Light
Theological Seminary. There is the story of Andrew and Anne. He was a
businessman before he came to seminary. They got married while he was at the
seminary and after graduation they went to Creative Access Country C to sell
cosmetics. On the side, they are leading Bible studies, leading new believers
to Christian discipleship, and helping in a house church. We also have Pastor
Wayne, a recent graduate of our seminary, who currently is pastoring the Wen
Shun Free Methodist Church in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. He wants to mobilize his local
members to reach out to the many foreigners in the city. These foreigners from
Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines are in the city as migrant
workers and as young mothers married to Taiwanese families. Pastor Wayne had
asked me to come and help plan a local cross-cultural missions work to share
Jesus to these foreigners around this local Free Methodist (FM) church. These
are Free Methodists who have seen the harvest. These are people who are ready
for the harvest.
When we encounter
the Lord of the harvest, we cannot help but see the harvest around us. When we
experience God in profound and personal ways, then we see His work in our lives
and experience bountiful growth and a time of renewal in our inner being.
The harvest is
here because God is here. God is bringing up His people from the outside coming
in. This is one principle we practice in missions studies. Harvest will not
come from inside the church institution. Christian harvest will come from
outside our boundaries and God Himself will bring the harvest into the church.
In John chapter four, we are reminded by Jesus that we are not in control of
the harvest. God is in control. Jesus said: “You are harvesting in places where
you have not labored.” We, the Free Methodists, are reaping the fruits from the
work of other people.
We can illustrate
this harvest principle very clearly from the current work of the Free Methodist
Church in Asia. You probably have heard of different news and reports from other
missionaries of how our FM works in the countries of India, Vietnam, Malaysia,
and other Creative Access Countries have grown exponentially. In one Creative
Access Country alone, three independent house church networks joined the Free
Methodist Church USA in 2009. These three groups brought in about 3,800 local
churches. We do not know exactly how many members there are, but obviously, God
is bringing in the harvest.
awesome! It is an exciting time to be a member of the Free Methodist Church. It
is the Book of Acts all over again. God is bringing in the harvest from the
outside coming in. I teach this principle in my classes at the seminary. I
remind Taiwanese pastors and church leaders that God’s ways are mysterious, and
He chooses to bring growth to the church coming in from the outside. Harvest
will come from people like these foreign migrant workers, and persons who do
not belong to the church. In Taiwan, the potential for the Lord’s harvest is
great because of the presence of many Asian migrant workers and foreign
spouses. We are very encouraged. It is an exciting time to be a Free Methodist
in Taiwan. It is an exciting time to participate in the ministries of Holy
Light Theological Seminary, so that many workers will be equipped for the work
of God’s harvest. The goal is that from this seminary, we can have a steady
stream of missionaries and Christian workers going out to Asia under the
leadership of the Free Methodist Church.
Excitement is not
enough. We also need a strong focus on the work of the Lord. We need to be
determined to follow through with what God gives us. In the life of Jesus, he
was so focused in his work that he forgot about food. In John chapter four,
when his disciples asked him if he has eaten yet, he responded: “I have food
that you do not know of. My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me.” Jesus
was resolved to finish the task. He was so determined he lost track of other
things. When we are focused in obeying the Lord of the harvest, just like
Jesus, then people from the outside will notice this. We don’t even have to
open our mouth. They will see our passion and determination to follow God, and
through us they will have the opportunity to encounter God’s salvation in
Jesus. Our excitement for the Lord’s harvest and our determination to obey God,
these two will draw people to Jesus. Jesus himself will bring them in.
What is our
response then? Are we ready to face the Lord’s harvest? What should we do?
Jesus admonishes us to pray. “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to bring in more
workers in the harvest fields.” (Matthew 9:37-38). How do we do this?
We pray for people
who are workers in the harvest field. We pray for them even if we do not know
them. We pray for missionaries and harvest workers, even if we know that we
will never have the chance to meet them in the future. Jesus has commissioned
us to go and witness for him beyond our boundaries and unto the “ends of the
ages” (Acts 1:7-8). I think when we pray for missionaries whom we do not know
then it is a way of praying with the “end of ages” in mind.
In addition to our
prayers, we also get ourselves ready for the harvest. At the seminary in
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, there are many Taiwanese students who want to learn English
because they want to be ready for a future missionary work overseas. Jiadzwo is
one of them. He talks to me in English whenever he sees me. Whether I am at the
library or walking in the hallways, he comes and practices the limited English
words that he knows. This is probably one area of ministry an American can
participate in. He or she can come to Taiwan for a summer, a semester, or a
year and be a resource person and language partner to the many students at the
seminary who have a missionary calling. This is one great way of helping
someone who is getting ready for the harvest. One can do much for God’s kingdom.
And finally, we
pray with the intention that someday we ourselves will go. Go out and
experience the harvest. Go with a mission trip. Whether it is hammering a nail
or teaching English, go. If we cannot go, then we join those of us who are
going. Invite people who are interested in missions to our homes. Ask them:
“What is God doing in your life?” Participate in their dreams and send them
with our blessings and support. So that when they leave for a mission trip, it
is not only our money or prayers that go with them, but it is our very own
selves. Whatever we do, whether we are going or we are sending, we make sure we
ourselves encounter the Lord of the harvest. He is the one who is and will be bringing
in the harvest.
The harvest is
here. God is preparing His people for
the harvest. We are all harvest workers.
We are to work in God’s harvest among our families, in our
neighborhoods, in our schools, or in our towns.
And whenever we find harvest workers crossing cultural and geographical
boundaries, then we are also harvesting in that particular area. We are a part of this harvest. We are
participating because we send them with our financial support and our prayers. We
can join our God in His harvest field through our prayers for each other.
A few weeks ago, I
was in Indianapolis, Indiana with a group of pastors, church planters,
missionaries, seminary professors, and mission executives consulting about the
work of Global Chinese Ministries (GCM). Pastor J, a Free Methodist church
planter, was there sharing about the church planting work in Country C. A few
weeks ago, our denominational leaders were there to ordain about 29 pastors, in
addition to the 48 who were already ordained last 2009. These pastors belong to
the three house church networks that were mentioned earlier. Pastor J reported
that the local leaders from these three groups have decided to start a seminary
to train their leaders and church workers. Pastor J invited me to join them.
So, I said yes. Next year, for one week, I will go and visit Country C for a
time of ministry and teaching.
You know what? I
have never been to Country C. I have always heard of the many wonderful things
God is doing there. I heard it is a restricted country. Christian work is
closely supervised, and sometimes violently opposed by the government. I think
I can set aside one week of my time to help our brothers and sisters there. It
is hard for me to sit in the comforts of my office at the seminary in Taiwan,
and watch what God is doing in Country C. I want to go. I want to be there
where God is working. I want to follow the moving of the Holy Spirit. I want to
see for myself the harvest that God is bringing to the Free Methodist Church.
The Lord of the
harvest is leading us. When we encounter the Lord of the harvest, we cannot
help but see the harvest around us. The closer we are to the Lord of the
harvest, the farther we see the work of God in this world. Come and see the
harvest. It is ready. Will you join us?