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Changing Perspective

by Don McGarvey

Years ago I heard a story about a pair of brothers. One was tall enough to see over the wooden fence while the other was only tall enough to see through a knot-hole. One day the circus came to town and the boys viewed the circus parade from their respective positions. One enjoyed seeing the circus parade while the other only got to see snap shots of lions and tigers. One came away with a great sense of excitement while the other came away fearful. Both saw the same thing, but their perspective changed their reaction.

If we’re not careful, we can go through life with a knot-hole perspective rather than seeing the big picture. It’s easy to do, especially living in the Midwest. It’s easy to think the rest of the world is like us. It’s easy to think every community is like ours and every church is just like we are. But that’s just not true. We need to change our perspective. We need to get up on our tip toes and look over the fence and change our perspective.

A look over the top of the fence will show that out of nearly 7 billion people in the world, there are: 1.5 million Muslims; 1 billion Hindus; 600 million Buddhists, and 7,000 people groups with no indigenous community of believing Christians. Many of these people have never heard the name of Jesus. They don’t even know anyone who knows about Jesus.  Now that’s a little different perspective.

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Harvest: It’s Time!

by Don McGarvey

Just as we are seeing the harvest of corn and soy beans being brought in here in the Midwest, we are seeing a harvest of souls around the world. Statistics released by Assemblies of God World Missions tell us that someone comes to faith in Christ every 16 seconds each day. If you do the math this works out to 5,447 each day or 38,235 per week. In addition, every 42 minutes a new Assemblies of God church is planted. That’s over 1000 new churches per month. I would say this is a “bumper crop.”

We celebrate these numbers and look forward to even more people coming to faith in Christ; more churches being established; more spirit-filled pastors leading these churches. While we celebrate, we need to be mindful that the same report giving these celebratory numbers also informs us there are nearly 4 billion in the world that still need a Savior. This number includes over 1 billion Hindus; 600 million Buddhists; 1.5 million Muslims and hundreds of thousands here in the state of Iowa.

As we give God praise for the harvest we are instructed to continue to ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers because the harvest is plentiful and it is God’s will that none should perish.

The Importance of Harvest

by Aaron Rust

Growing up in North Central Kansas as a wheat farmer’s son, I became keenly aware that the harvest was the single most important event on the farm. Yes, there were other jobs, such as weed control, fertilization, tillage, and the like. But all these activities were for not if the farm failed to have a harvest.

Knowing we will have a harvest, we work hard to accomplish all tasks. Our worship, teaching, fellowship, etc, must be done view that we will obtain a harvest if we do not give up! (Gal 6:9)

Wheat harvest usually comes mid- to late-June. The first days of the harvest are on a hill where the moisture of the grain is under 12%. Valleys in the field contain unripe grain. On a normal year, my father, myself, and perhaps one other person would start the harvest. Then the hot summer breeze would begin to blow, the entire harvest would ripen overnight.
As harvest got underway we would gain momentum and our we would not stop for anything. My job was to drive a tractor pulling a grain cart. We would not take the full combine away from the uncut wheat. I would drive the tractor against the combine and my dad would unload the wheat into my cart without stopping the combine to unload it. My uncle, My brother-in-law, and mother would all join in. Everyone was needed. We would have a combine operator, a grain cart operator, two truck drivers, a parts runner, and someone who would bring meals to the field. The cook was as significant as the combine operator. For if they failed to come, harvest would cease.
Matthew 20 calls for all to enter His harvest. There is no job too small. All are needed. Seemingly insignificant jobs gains purpose when he she understands that their contribution increases the effectiveness of the harvest. I certainly believe that Matthew’s 11th hour is synonymous with the times in which we live.  All are needed for the harvest of lost souls. The hour is late.
Harvest for any particular day was governed by wind and humidity. When the sun was up, humidity dropped and the straw would become brittle enough for effective harvest. As evening would approach, it would begin to cool off, the straw would toughen up and we would have to quit.  We didn’t know when that would happen. Some nights as early as 9 PM and other days we would work into the wee hours of the morning. But it would happen. Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”  Let’s keep His harvest at the center of our focus and work tirelessly.  Night is coming.

Start Communicating!

by Don McGarvey

Do you want to start doing something very few people are doing; something that will set you apart; something that will make people sit up and take notice; something that will increase your awareness of what God is doing around the world; and something that will make a difference in your church? What am I talking about?  I’m talking about communicating with missionaries you support for no other reason than to let them know they are not forgotten. It will also help them feel as if they are part of what God is doing in your church.

Often, as the Network’s World Missions Director, I’m asked about missionaries who do not communicate with great frequency. Most times my response is a question about how often the church communicates with its missionaries. It’s a good thing to start. Many of our missionaries miss having a “home church,” and they would love to hear about what God is doing. It will give them a special attachment with your church the next time they are there for a service. Plus, it’s always a great thing to have a missionary praying for you!

In addition to making them feel part of a local church, you can use this time to request specific information that you can share with your congregation or use in your sermons. Why not start today? You can find contact information for our Iowa missionaries on the Iowa Ministry Network Website, here.

Enjoy Church

by Don McGarvey

I  Googled “how to enjoy church,” and was quite surprised to see so many results. One site had an article entitled “Eight Suggestions for Learning to Enjoy Church Again.”

The idea of church being something to enjoy probably does not come into our thinking as we plan the various events from week to week. But sometimes I wonder what we would do differently if we planned with the thought, “what could we do that folks would enjoy?”

It might be interesting to spend some time with people in your church ruminating over this question. One of our churches’ World Missions event involved having their guest missionaries ride into the sanctuary on Harley Davidson motorcycles, on bicycles, and a four-wheeler. One church divided up into teams to see who would be able to create the best display from the country of one of their visiting missionaries. One church created an annual costume event for their children and created an event for the best plate of food from the country of the visiting missionary.

Another idea is to have questions written in advance for the visiting missionary to answer during their time with the congregation. And one church invited the missionaries to share humorous stories from their experiences of adjusting to the culture and language of their country.

A little planning, a little creativity and a little listening on your part could go a long way in making World Missions something to enjoy!

Video Friday: Engage

A few months ago, a team from The Gateway Church in Des Moines took a trip to Anemona, El Salvador, to team up with Enlace to impact the community in El Salvador. Gateway has entered into a long-term relationship with the community in Anemona, the church, and their pastor. Each Tuesday, the church in Anemona prays for The Gateway Church and Gateway is committed to developing relationships in El Salvador and supporting their work there.

Pray about how your church can engage your community as well as communities far away!

Continual Transition for Effective Ministry

by Don McGarvey

Former Executive Secretary of the Assemblies of God World Missions J. Philip Hogan described world missions being, “…anchored to the rock, but geared to the times.”

He understood the need for a continual state of transition in order to maintain effective ministry. He understood that the world was changing and world missions needed to transition from effective methods of yesterday to the new methodology of tomorrow.

If you’ve studied world missions, you know that nothing stays the same for long. It seems that world missions has been in a continual state of transition from the very beginning.  The history of missions is peppered with stories of missionaries riding on horseback into the bush traveling from village to village to proclaim the Good News. Today we are effectively utilizing methods to reach a world that is vastly different than it was just a few years ago. We’ve learned that what is effective today might not be effective tomorrow.

Transition can be frustrating, but it is inevitable for effective ministry whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the street. Our world is changing, but thank God we have the changeless message of Jesus Christ to present and we have the continual leadership of the Holy Spirit to show us new ways of connecting with the lost and loving them into the Kingdom of God.