Here in South Dakota it's harvest season . . . it’s still harvest season.
It's been a difficult harvest for the farmers. There has been too much rain leading to too much mud. There's been early snow. There's been record breaking cold weather. And all of that has lead to a harvest that is still out in the fields. When they should just be wrapping up, there is still a long way to go.
The harvest is plentiful. It's abundant - not record breaking by any means - but there are good yields coming in on the corn and soybeans.
The harvest is plentiful but this year the harvesting is also really difficult.
It's downright hard and probably frustrating and I'm quite certain many a local farmer has been at it until three and four in the morning more nights than they'd care to remember.
But do you know what no farmer ever said?
It's too hard, let's just forget about the harvest.
It's too late. Let's just go in and go to bed.
It's too frustrating. Let's just give up.
You'll never hear those words from a farmer because their job - their calling - is to bring in the harvest.
Jesus said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.
I've been convicted of my own sense of laziness and softness as I've watched - and helped a little - as my family works to bring in the harvest. They carry with them a stubborn perseverance, a tenacity and focus that I would do well to learn from.
As I pray for 2,000 Muslims to have an opportunity to hear the gospel here in our region and as I work to do my part to see the 3 billion who have never heard the gospel have a chance to hear it, will I grab hold of the vision and stick with it with everything I've got until it becomes a reality or until I die?
Jesus makes two statements in this verse:
He tells us to open our eyes and look to the fields. They are ripe for harvest! (John 4:35)
The work of salvation is the exclusive work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day," and later in John 12:32 says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
And so while the work is God's to do, he invites us into that work as He sends us into the world as his witnesses and ambassadors (John 17:18; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
The question is, will I pour my life into bringing in the harvest?
Will I dedicate my time and shun distraction and learn what I need to learn and rest when I need to rest and pray like everything depends on it because there is an abundant harvest in the field and the Father wants me to be about the work of bringing it in.
It's my prayer that I will continue to grow in my dedication to the harvest.
It's the Father's heart!
What about You?
Will you pray that your hearts would be shaped more and more like the Father's heart?
Will you pray that your hearts would be broken more and more for lostness?
And will you pray that we all begin to live with the same kind of urgency and focus and stubborn perseverance for the lost locally, nationally and globally that our local farmers have for the harvest sitting out in the field.
Here are a few things you can do to begin to grow your heart for the harvest.
Pray Luke 10:2 - Set an alarm on your watch or phone that goes off every day at 10:02 and commit to obeying Jesus and praying for the harvest.
Pray for your network - On a note card write down the names of everyone you know who is far from God and commit to praying for them every day.
Discover - Read and Meditate on the following passages in scripture: Luke 15; John 17; Matthew 28:16-20; Genesis 12:1-4)
Discover - Read the book of Acts once a week for the next four weeks (4 chapters a day).
Zume is a small group training module focused on helping small bands of Jesus followers learn how to obey the great commission and to multiply.
And in that, it is not your average small group study.
Zume is an online training that has ten lessons of roughly two hours each.
Zúme means yeast in Greek. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus is quoted as saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who took yeast and mixed it into a large amount of flour until it was all leavened." This illustrates how ordinary people, using ordinary resources, can have an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom of God. Zúme aims to equip and empower ordinary believers to saturate the globe with multiplying disciples in our generation.
Gather a group of like minded friends and get started today!
Over the last decade I've been regularly learning about discipleship and particularly, the principles of discipleship that lead to multiplication and the rapid expansion of the kingdom of God. One of the sources of that continued learning which has perhaps had more influence than any other is the Movements Podcast by Steve Addison.
Steve regularly interviews practitioners from across the world who are applying these principles and seeing movements emerge. I'd encoueage you to skip over to Steve's website right now and find out how you can subscribe to the podcast.
Visit Movements.net Now
One of those practitioners who has been frequent guest and who is one of the leaders of the No Place Left movement across the world is Jeff Sundell. It is not without reason that Jeff, who hales from Bugger Hollow North Carolina and who spent much of his life making disciples in Asia, has been perhaps the most frequent guest on the Movements Podcast.
And so when the most recent episode of the podcast featured a report from Jeff and his wife Angie's summer in Athens, I queued it up on my phone to listen to right away. I was not disappointed and there were so many nuggets of insight in their reporting that I went back and listened again, taking notes of the things that seemed extra important.
And so with this post I'd like to share those insights and encourage you to find some time in the next week to listen to the interview for yourself (or you can watch now below).
Here are a five of the nuggets that I gleaned from their conversation. If there are any "nuggets" that you hear that I didn't mention, feel free to share them in the comments below.
1. The Gospel is worth it.
Angie started the inteview talking about the many times they heard heartbreaking stories from refugees who had lost everything. People whose homes were destroyed, who had lost jobs, who had lost everything and over and over again they would say, "It was worth it! It was worth it because when I came here I got to hear about Jesus." The Gospel is worth it!
2. Train everyone to be a disciple maker.
One of the adjustments that the disciple makers had to make as they worked with refugee populations had to do with the transient nature of the people. A new believer from a Muslim background might be in Athens for a year or they might just be there for a month or even days. The workers on the ground began to cast vision early and often for the great commission and to train everyone to identify lostness, to share their faith and to make disciples. Everyone they worked with was seen as a potential missionary carrying the gospel to the next location whether that was further into Europe or back to their own country. Train everyone!
3. Little happens if disciples of Jesus are not broken for lostness.
Again and again, they saw that the hearts of those who had found faith in Christ and who were sharing that faith boldly, were broken for the lost. Their families didn't know Jesus. Their people didn't know Jesus. That was a heavy burden on their hearts which compelled them to go and to pray and to share. All the methods and tools in the world will do little good if the people of God are not broken by the lostness around them.
4. Focus on the grandchildren.
This was one of the most interesting and powerful lessons from the interview. As the summer progressed, one of the changes they made in coaching and relating to the leaders in Athens, was to stop asking about how they were doing at sharing the gospel, discipling new believers and leading new churches and to begin talking with them only about how their grandchildren were doing at those things. In other words, they began consistently asking about their disciples' disciples. This shift lead to more concientious focus on training disciples to train disciples and resulted in better discipleship.
5. A Hub stategy allows for local, national and global mission to exist.
I had first heard the idea of a hub strategy from Steve Smith in a 2016 article in Mission Frontiers Magazine. That article caught my attention and over the last few years I have continued to think about what home hubs would actually look like. It was Troy Cooper's Great Commission Pipeline video about a hub strategy which was published in April of 2018 that really fleshed out the idea for me though. Jeff and Angie got to see the fruit of that kind of strategy in Athens and it is exciting to see it develop and grow.
Those are five things that I gleaned from the interview.
What about you?
Watch the interview below!
I have heard the sentiment from a number of different people over the last few years - usually from moms.
Aren't there any missions experiences or training events that we can do as a family?
Too often, in order to get trained or to go out on a mission trip, we have to find someone to watch the kids and yet we want desperately to model for our kids what it means to live on mission.
Not easy to do when we are forced to leave the kids at home.
Everywhere to Everywhere has always been an event that is open to families coming and we've worked to create an experiential weekend of learning and training that older kids can enter into along with mom and dad.
Our regular E2E training weekends are good for high schoolers and mature junior high students who come with a parent. The learning is often discovery based and interactive and much of the weekend is experienced outside of the training room at the local mosque, ethnic restaurants and in neighborhoods.
But it still hasn't been conducive to a family with elementary aged children. And so in May we will have our very first E2E Family Weekend.
The idea is to create a weekend of learning and ministry that the whole family can come to together. It will be for school aged kids and above. We still aren't ready for babies and toddlers but are working to create a great weekend that the whole family can enter into together.
We will continue to working on the details and adjustments that need to be made and even today I came across another challenge that we need to consider: early bedtimes!
Our family is working together to create a weekend that your family can enter into together. But we'd love your feedback as well. Stop by and read through the program description page and then share your ideas in the comments for adaptations and adjustments that would help create a family friendly E2E weekend.
The dates for the first E2E Family will be May 31 - June 2 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Driving through Mcpherson, KS on my way back from an Everywhere to Everywhere training event in Wichita, I pulled into a gas station to fill up for the drive back to South Dakota. Mcpherson is a small midwestern town of around 13,000 people with a small Christian college, a strong economy and a lot of churches.
But there behind the counter was an olive skinned man whose heavy accent belied the reality that he was not born in the U.S. With curiosity and expectation I asked where he was from and he told me his homeland was India.
I inquired further, "So if you are from India, you speak both English and Hindi, but you also probably speak a third language as well, is that right?"
Surprised by my interest, he smiled and said, "Yes, I also speak Gujarati."
While he was telling me this and ringing up the sale, I pulled out my smartphone and opened the Jesus Film App. Clicking on the "map" tab, I showed him the map of the world that opened up on the screen. Zooming in on India, I tapped the little red flag that opened up a list of over 200 languages that are spoken there.
I pointed at what looked like the language he had mentioned and he said, "Yes, that is it. That’s my language."
Ten seconds later the Jesus Film began playing in his native tongue - a language spoken by nearly 57 million people. The man smiled then and nodding his head happily said, "Yes! Yes, that is my language."
The Gujarati people are an unreached people group at less than 1% evangelical Christian. And there he was right behind the counter selling me gasoline and a coke as we listened to the beginning of the Jesus film in his native language.
But then he caught me off guard as he asked me a question.
"Are you a Christian?"
"Yes," I replied, "I am a follower of Jesus." I was giddy with anticipation, thinking that this was one of those God prepared moments, that perhaps he'd had a dream of Jesus and was going to ask me to tell him how to become a Christian.
It was indeed a God prepared moment, but the the lesson was to be for me.
Reaching beneath the counter and pulling out a magazine, the man said, "Another Christian was here a few days ago and gave me this." He held out the magazine for me to see.
It was a pamphlet from the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The least reached from the world are here. They are immigrating to our cities and towns. They are coming to our universities. They are looking for friendship and hope and truth and if we don't reach them, someone else will.
If it’s not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’ll be the Mormons or the American dream or secular humanism or radical jihadists or atheists.
Someone at some time will reach them.
The only question is who it will be and with what message. Let us not neglect God's call to reach the nations locally, nationally and globally.
We all have a role to play in God's global purpose.
It’s not often mentioned in the list of important qualities of disciples of Jesus but in our strung out western world, it may well be the most important gift followers of Jesus have to offer a broken and hurting world.
It is what Moses had when God called him to lead the people of Israel out of captivity. He was not a gifted speaker. He made bad decisions. He wasn’t very brave. But he was available and in his going back to Egypt he allowed God to work through him to rescue slaves unto freedom and to move God’s redemptive story forward.
Availability is what Gideon had when God called him to lead an army. Granted, Gideon was hiding in a winepress when God found him, and he wasn’t exactly excited to jump on God’s bandwagon. Once Gideon’s fleece was wet however, he obeyed even as God reduced his regiment to a hilariously small number that gave all the glory to God in victory.
And Rahab was available too.
She was a woman of ill repute, a foreigner and a prostitute who at the time we can assume knew very little of the God of the Israelites except what she has overheard; that He had been victorious in recent skirmishes and miraculously parted the Red Sea. She steps into God’s redemptive story when two of Israel’s spies step into her room and she risks her life to hide them.
If we survey the prominent characters of the Biblical narrative, few are chosen because they are highly qualified leaders. A few were of course – King Saul, Judas, Saul of Tarsus, but most of these didn’t work out so well. It seems the highly qualified often lean a little too deeply into self reliance and self reliance usually leads to trusting in man rather than trusting in God.
Relying on his own gifts and abilities and education, Saul of Tarsus was hunting down followers of Jesus to have them arrested and thrown in prison. It was only when he left his highly qualified self behind that Saul became available to become Paul and the man whom God could use to build his church.
When we look through the hall of fame that is Hebrews eleven, the number one thing each of the faithful had to give to God was themselves.
They said yes. They were available.
And while Jesus is highly qualified in every way, he models the radical availability that allowed him to say, “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
And that is why Jesus’ ministry looks so vastly different than the successful ministries of today. His is the ministry of availability, of responding to the interruptions of the masses, of walking miles out of his way to heal a leader’s son, of inviting the little children to come to him.
Jesus’ model is not that of the best leadership style but of availability.
Jesus' avalibility in ministry begins as He models an availability to abide. Despite an incredibly full ministry, Jesus routinely makes time to be with the Father. He is part of the triune forever relationship of God and Son and Holy Spirit and this carries on into His thirty three years on earth.
He is a master of scripture, a mastery that most certainly came from years of immersion in those same scriptures. He is a master as well of prayer, of interceding on behalf of the sick and the demon possessed and the lost. There is authority in his prayers. And Jesus is the master at communing with God, of walking in a living relationship with the Father.
He is the master of abiding and he invites us first and foremost to do the same. And so while the immediate needs of the masses continually pressed in around him during his ministry on earth, we see the clear model that, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
When Peter and John were before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4, the characteristic recorded for all posterity is not that of highly qualified leadership skills or a refined speaking ability. It was that they had been with Jesus. The Sanhedrin note that while they were “ordinary unschooled men”, they had been with Jesus. Peter and John had become masters of abiding with God because it is the model that Jesus gave them.
And so at the forefront of the discipleship journey, we as followers of Jesus must learn to be available to abide with him. Despite the chaos of our frenzied western existence, we must learn to set aside time to be with Jesus.
Abiding is to be our first act of availability.
It was from this lifestyle of abiding availability that Jesus’ ministry flowed. And in his three years of ministry as recorded in the gospels, He models again and again the servant heart that makes him available to engage hurting, lost people – even when they interrupt him.
It seems an almost regular occurrence that Jesus responds to a pleading father, a frightened and sick woman or a shouting blind man. He is regularly going one way and then – in response to a need – heads another way. It seems at times haphazard and yet it’s not.
His ministry is focused.
He went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. There was purpose in his journeys. He trained up twelve men who would go on to launch His movement. He gave his followers what they needed – himself – to spread the good news of His kingdom.
Like Jesus we must live strategic lives of engagement with a clear goal in mind. But the way to do that – as modeled by Jesus – is first and foremost to be with God. To make knowing God our first priority.
And when we do. When we learn to discern the voice of God. When we begin to do only what the Father is doing.
Then we will be working in the ministry of availability.
We had been in Bang Chalong for months, and while we clearly felt God leading us to serve there, I often faced many feelings of inadequacy.
I had never planted a church before. In fact, I barely finished two years of Bible College! I don’t play guitar, so I couldn’t even use music as a way to draw people in. There were so many gifts that I lacked, so much that I could not do. Then God showed me that there was one thing that I could do. I learned this from the Book of Nehemiah. I saw that Nehemiah spent a lot of time in prayer before he ever built anything. I thought to myself, that’s something I can do! I can pray! So I began to do this.
We would rise early, at four in the morning, so that we could stand on a high bridge and see everyone going off to their jobs. We prayed over each person that we saw. Then we would walk the streets of Bang Chalong, praying for opportunities to meet people, to build relationships and to share the Gospel.
>>> read the rest of the story here
The round up will be a semi regular feature of the E2E blog. With it we hope to share some of the articles, podcasts and videos that have inspired us or that we've learned from in the past weeks and months. We'll simply post the title of the article, podcast or video with the link embedded. We hope it will be helpful and that you will grow in your heart for the nations and your understanding of how you can be part of reaching the nations because of this feature.
Social Media On The Mission Field - Tweaks and Tips (article)
Looking Beneath the Surface (article)
A Priest and a Rabbi Walk Into a Bar (article)
Not Immediatly Finding a Man of Peace? (article)
Apartment Evangelism is Moving the Gospel (article)
How Local Missions Impacts Global Missions (article and video)
Abiding in Christ (Video teaching series)
God, Give us Austin, Texas or we die! (Podcast)
As we head out into diverse neighborhoods in our city, we often run into new Americans, people who've just recently come to North America and who have yet to master the English language. Like first generation immigrants from years past, they'll probably never master English, working rather to earn a living and give their children a chance at a better life than they had.
As someone interested in sharing the good news of Jesus with these new neighbors, this poses an interesting challenge.
Technology offers a way around this challenge. There are some amazing apps that you can use to help share the good news of Jesus with the nations among us. These can be found by searching for the apps below on either your iPhone or Android phone.
Here are seven smart phone apps for reaching the nations among us that we have found helpful. As always, if you know of others, please share them in the comments below.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
Bible.is has a number of features that are helpful. If there is an audio version of the particular language, you can use it to listen to the language. I know a friend who was doing a creation to Christ Bible study with a Somali family and he'd simply place his phone in a bowl on the table (for amplification) and play the chapter of the Bible they were exploring that week. The family would listen in Somali and then they'd discuss the passage.
Learn more here: http://www.bible.is/
We pray because our vision exceeds our ability. Prayer is the soul's deepest cry of rebellion against the way things are, seeing the lost of this world and crying out, "This does not glorify God, and so, by God's grace, it must change!" Prayer comes from God and ascends back to God on behalf of those who do not know God. Extraordinary prayer lays a firm foundation for a movement of God."
I was reading in Luke 11 today, through the passage where Jesus teaches us His prayer and then goes on to tell us to, "ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, recieves, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."
It reminded me of the Garrison quote above and of the many resources available to help the body of Christ focus "extraordinary prayer" on the nations. And so today I want to share Seven Prayer Resources To Fuel Your Missions "Prayer" Fire.
[READ ALL OF THE 7 SERIES BLOG POSTS]
Prayercast Video for North Korea
We are a collection of practitioners and trainers seeking to multiply disciples and churches locally, nationally and globaly among every segment of society until there's no place left.