Growing up, June was one of my most favourite months: after seemingly endless weeks of academic pursuits, summer break was here! The idea of summer vacation was eventually replaced by summer jobs. And they eventually gave way to standard, year-round work that comes with being an adult. Which meant that summer was just like all the other times of the year – just hotter.
But as a boy, summer did mean a respite from the rigours of study. It was time for a break. Kick back, relax – even the summer job was a means of not having to do school work. Yippee!
Is it possible that we think that way about the purposes of God – are there times we think, ‘I can just coast a bit now?’. In his famous teaching on ministry, Jesus framed it like this:
Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest (John 4:35).
The phrase ‘It’s still four months until harvest’ implies a kind of procrastination. We don’t have to get on with it now – there’s still plenty of time! This was the attitude Jesus was correcting. The fields are ripe now; it’s harvest time now.
Jesus gave this teaching in the context of personal ministry. He was travelling to Galilee and had to go through Samaria. It was there he encountered a Samaritan woman, and by reaching her, he reached a town.
Rather than an unwanted interruption, Jesus viewed the conversation with this woman as an opportunity for ministry. The lesson seems clear: we don’t have the luxury of scheduling the moments when God brings key appointments into our lives; we have to live in now time, assuming that God may break in at any moment.
I got very inspired a few weeks ago by testimonies from our churches in Ukraine. We were all at a gathering of European pastors and leaders in Krakow, Poland. The Ukrainians presented two testimonies: first, our L’viv church described how they are using a music club to reach youth with the gospel. By getting youth involved in the club, they are encountering Christians and the gospel, and in turn, are helping to reach more people when they perform in schools and on the streets.
Second, our Ternopil church shared a powerful testimony of transformation. They got six men up on the stage – all leaders, elders, deacons, and ushers in the churches – and told the story of how these men came to Christ. All of them had been hard drug addicts – for six years, twelve years, two years, eight years, five years. And God, through his mercy, and the ministry of the drug rehab centres the church has started, saved them – not only from sin, but from their addictions.
Praise God for his grace – and the reminder that proactive action produces results.
As a ministry dedicated to God’s purposes in our generation, working hard to take the gospel to those who don’t yet know Christ, we have to live in now time. Following Jesus means assuming God may break in at any moment. It means living ready to have a ministry moment, living ready for God’s harvest.
We may be tempted to procrastinate and push things – God’s things – into tomorrow. But God invites us to follow Him into harvest now. This is why our Reach Out Club is so inspiring. Your faith, your dedication, your generosity: we are a get it done people, and everything that CBU is doing around the world – if it’s been fuelled by the Holy Spirit, it’s been funded by our ministry partners.
There are more churches to plant, more youth to reach, more drug addicts to deliver. Praise God for the testimonies that remind us what happens when we are willing to preach the gospel and to get our hands dirty with those who need help.
It’s time for CBU to say ‘yes’ to God – to his mission – and to the nations. And we will. Thank you for standing with us in harvest – both now – and as we walk forward into what God has for us.
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