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.
by Cary Van Kampen
Even though my dad would rather be working with the livestock on our family farm, he still put great effort into raising and harvesting our grain crops. Most of our grain went into feed for our livestock, so that always helped him to think the field work was a great benefit to his livestock. Even though my dad has farmed for over 50 years he works very hard to stay up to date on the inputs (fertilizer, chemicals, seeds) and processes (different types of equipment, soil conversation practices, technical processes of working a field) required to raise great crops.
Of all the pieces of implement equipment my dad owns, it is his combine he works the hardest to maintain. A few years ago, my dad realized he had to keep gearing down his combine speed to could handle the amount of bushels per acre going through it. There was nothing wrong with his combine. The problem was that it was designed to handle 120 to 150 bushels of corn to an acre. My dad’s corn was producing, at times, over 200 bushels per acre. My dad knew his combine was in good shape, but he needed to either reduce his production or make a change with his combine. Since a farmer never wants to decrease production, it was not a difficult decision to make.
How is the production of souls at your church? Maybe it isn’t what it used to be or it isn’t what it should be. Would some upgrade in your church’s processes produce more for the Kingdom. Though what’ you’re doing may not be wrong, it is always good to ask, “Is what we are doing relevant to our community’s needs?” “What adjustments will produce a greater Kingdom harvest?”
by Lori Jacobs
Walking outside on a cool crisp evening last week, with leaves crunching underfoot, we were captivated by the sight of a beautiful Harvest moon. At the peak of harvest, its bright glow illuminates the fields to such an extent it allows farmers to work late into the night.
On its own, the moon is a gray, rocky, lifeless, dusty surface, not particularly a thing of beauty. But as it reflects the sun’s brilliant light, it can take your breath away. Photographers take hundreds of pictures trying to capture its magnificence. With brushes in hand, gifted artists use vivid colors to paint a radiant moon as the focal point of their portraits. Unable to produce any light on its own, it’s beauty results from simply one thing–reflection.
God has made His light shine in our hearts to reflect His glory. How do you share his light? Do others see God’s glory shining through your life? Do the things we do draw others to know His love?
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NIV)
by Cary Van Kampen
Fall is my favorite season. Being raised on my parents’ Iowa farm I loved coming home from school to go out into the fields and help my dad by hauling in the wagon loads of grain. After months of performing the proper tasks at the appropriate stages of raising corn and soybeans, the fall tasks of harvesting were so rewarding to me to see the product of all our efforts and time.
There were a few learning stages for me as I worked through the years of harvest with my dad: learning how to drive in a field with a full wagon of grain so the wagon would stay level and not tip grain over the side; learning not only how to drive two wagons behind a tractor down the road, but also how to turn left on a highway with traffic.
The task I still love doing is unloading on the go. My dad would drive the combine down the rows of grain while I came beside him with a tractor and wagon, adjusting my speed and wagon location so we could auger out the grain from the combine’s hopper to the wagon without having to stop the combine. What a time saver!
Then came the day when my dad taught me how to drive the combine. My dad taught me more than driving a combine. He taught me how to run the combine. There are so many moving parts on the combine that my dad taught me the feel and noises of the different aspects of the combine. I could even hear a bearing going out before it became so hot and started a grain dust fire and feel when the rollers were working too hard, crushing the beans rather than just crushing the bean pods so the beans would fall out.
My dad taught me so much in steps and stages over the years during harvest. During one of the busiest times on a farm my dad would take time to teach me rather than just do it himself. What a great leadership lesson my dad understood! It took extra time in the beginning, but over time it paid great dividends for my dad and his farm. When I made mistakes he encouraged me to, “Keep at it, Son,” and talked about how those practical lessons also had many life and relationship applications.
My dad is a great father but he doesn’t even realize how he is a great leader and has taught me how to develop leadership in those around me. What are you & your leadership team doing in patiently teaching the younger generation how to be leaders? What are we doing by example for the younger generation to multiple themselves into others? Jesus talked about laborers needed for the harvest. I’m sure he knew there needed to leaders didn’t just lead by multiplied themselves so there will be a great harvest. How are you & your leadership team multiplying for the Kingdom’s 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)
Mmmm…bacon tomato samich! Sprechen sie Deutsch? Or is that Dutch? We took some of Grandma’s garden tomatoes to the office to share. August means state fair, moving college kids, heat and Grandma’s garden tomatoes, green beans, broccoli, blackberries, snap peas, green pepper… You name it, she grows it, and not just a tiny plot. She put up 49 quarts of green beans so far this year, besides all the green bean soup she fed to Charlie this summer as he helped out on the farm before getting married.
She will give you the recipe, or any other of her millions of good recipes (if she wrote it down). There’s always a new dish to try at Grandma’s, whether it’s coffee time, Sunday dinner after church, or just dropping by on an errand. She knows how to grow a garden. She’s put in three every year for years and knows the hows, whens, wheres and whats of it. She knows the time and effort involved as well, and her harvest is proof of her diligent labor of love. She does love gardening – even though there are hot, sweaty, backbreaking, knee aching times of weeding, mulching, fertilizing, dusting and pruning. As the Father cares for His church, so Grandma cares for her garden – and oh the joy of the harvest! “Something for nothing,” she often says, but we know all she has sacrificed.
Young wife and mother, Erica Barthalow, wanted to glean from Grandma’s knowledge of gardening. She spoke with the master gardener on the phone. She wanted to know when to plant each variety, how thick to plant the seeds, what inputs to utilize for each and so forth. She hoped for a bountiful harvest for her family, Jonathan, Jacob, and Juliana.
In the same way Erica learned from Grandma about gardening, leaders from all over Iowa can come to E2 to learn the hows, wheres, whens and whats of ministry. This year, E2 features a variety of individuals sharing wisdom on a variety of topics to encourage and equip us in several aspects of ministry. The information shared at e2 is useful for everyone: for those starting out in ministry, ministry veterans and everyone in between. There will be an opportunity for leaders to encourage and equip fellow laborers in Iowa’s garden and for worship and wisdom from leadership; good fertilizers and growing techniques to help a garden variety of people to advance the Kingdom.
For more information or to register for E2, click here.
This blog was initially published on Cary & Wanda’s blog. You can read more about the Van Kampen’s Journey here.
The fields are ripe for the harvest. I’ve heard it. I’ve preached it. Without understanding we all have a responsibility to go into the fields there is the risk of allowing a crop to rot in the field. Once that occurs, it becomes suitable for nothing but the fire. A horrible waste of the commodity of the heavens: people. Unfortunately I often find myself thinking months in advance about… well, things. Things relating to the field, but I can easily forget that the field is ripe now.
Jesus deals with my tendency to plan ahead of Him and my procrastination in one statement. He pointedly says, “Do you not say four more months and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes… they are ripe for the harvest!” The harvest is now. I have to remember to stay focused on the harvest: people. People at the store, in the car next to me, in my community. They may not be aware of the times, but Jesus lets us know. It’s time.
Jesus actually said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” Jesus’ sustenance, the thing that kept him going, was doing the work the Father had called him to. Again that work’s focus and purpose is people. I know that there are times, too many I must admit, that His work is hard, long and draining and because of that, all I want to do is sit on the edge of the field. I find myself at times simply ignoring the field, and other times I think if I tell others to get into the field thats good enough.
As pastors and leaders we do have to plan, we do need rest and we definitely need to call attention to missions. But we can never allow those things to remove us from the very field that Jesus died for. My attention, somehow my food, must be on what sustained and propelled my Master: the masses, the individual, the friend, the enemy, the church attender, the loner. People.