There is a command of the Lord in Luke’s Gospel that I find breathtaking.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
There are almost as many surprising things in this verse as there are words. But just to chose one:
The call to be Kingdom-minded
The prayer Jesus wants is for more workers to bring in the harvest of people that the Lord has prepared for Himself. It’s a famous prayer for missions mobilisation. But notice who is being told to pray. It is those who Jesus is sending out (Luke 10:2). Missionaries. Disciples commissioned by Jesus himself to preach the kingdom and prepare the way for the king.
Not only are they told to go but as they go they are told to pray for others to go. Others meaning not just their friends but who are not ‘following along with us’ (Luke 9:49). Others who are part of other groups, other denominations, other church tribes and circles. Others who are not like us or with us. Others who we will be tempted to condemn and scorn. Others who are… dare we say it… Competition.
It is so easy, so human, to start thinking in terms of competition and market and share of the pie. To start thinking of my field, my strategy, my programme, my church, my empire. So when another church or organisation comes along that seems to be doing the same thing as we are or targeting the same group of people or working in the same area the default is so easily not to be overjoyed and praise God for more harvesters in the harvest field but to feel threatened, annoyed, jealous, scornful.
Jesus wants to explode all of that, to widen my tiny vision to a kingdom vision, to see His Kingdom, His Church. To see the vastness of the task. To see his sovereignty over the harvest and the harvesters. To see ‘competitors’ as fellow labourers who are ‘for us’ (Luke 9:50).
What Jesus is calling for is for a church planter to pray for other church planters to be raised up, from other denominations, to plant churches in the same area he is targeting.
What Jesus is calling for is for missionaries to pray for other missionaries to be raised up, from other mission agencies, to reach the people they are seeing to reach.
What Jesus is calling for is for iServe Africa to pray for others to start similar ministry apprenticeship schemes in Kenya and beyond.
Because the harvest is huge. And the harvest is not ours.