(July 19, 2019) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, reflects …
The Lord gave me ‘a heart for the harvest’ early in my life journey of faith! Through prophecy and a vision, within a year of my conversion I was called to the nations!
But… I failed to understand the prophecy and direction that God set before me. For many years I did not understand it: In fact it wasn’t until almost ten years later when Charles Greenwood, my pastor at Richmond Temple, guided me toward the first steps that began to unfold this major step in my life.
There’s a world harvest, not just local!
After serving as a local pastor in five churches, over about 15 years, I was asked to visit Papua New Guinea for some weeks in 1968.
Until then, my focus was on local people who needed Christ. I did not yet have a ‘heart for the harvest’ in the world. That came progressively over some years. My annual visits to Papua New Guinea were in reality my training for the harvest in the world. I owe much to the older missionaries who demonstrated a commitment and love for the indigenous people that I did not yet have.
A lesson I valued early in my many travels as I visited missionaries and negotiated with government authorities for permits, was the necessity of never giving up and not getting tired of doing what is good, because reaping time is ahead. I also learned well that it is God who supplies ‘the seed’ of the word of truth that can set the captives free and produce an ever-growing number of new local churches of new believers (2 Corinthians 9:10).
Keys of responsibility
Every local church where the believers honour the word of God has the biblical responsibility to consider and obey the words of the Lord Jesus to look with open eyes and observe the fields where there is a ripe harvest. This is a responsibility that must be honoured in faith.
The key words are –
- ‘Open your eyes’
- ‘Observe the fields’ and
- ‘Operate in readiness for harvesting.’
If we are to love and obey the Lord Jesus as the Bible declares, then we must open our eyes and observe the fields. Ignorance is never bliss. May God grant that more and more churches and more and more men and women will understand and obey God’s word.
At the same time, it is vital that local churches accept their responsibility to respond to the call of Christ, when he says, ‘Look, I tell you, open your eyes and observe that the fields are ready for harvesting now!’
That is why the Lord is calling local church leadership to serious consideration of the reality of so many nations where there has never yet been a missionary at any time. For any local church to be effective in their selection, encouragement, support and sending, they must have committed and trained people in their church who understand the dynamics of local churches being involved in this great and complex task.
At times I am asked, ‘Why do you call for missionaries so much when we need more people working here in Australia, preaching and winning the lost?’ My answer is still the same…
- The call to the nations is from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the harvest.
- Sadly the number of believers who can be witnesses for Christ but remain home in the world-wide church far outnumbers the limited number that answer the call to the global harvest!
Preparation is so necessary!
However I frequently add, ‘It is far better many remain at home to serve the Lord – unless they know beyond all doubt that the Lord is calling them to the nations.’
And I regret to add, that in my observation over many years, there have been too many who have applied to be missionaries without knowing a decisive call of God in their hearts to cross-cultural ministry. They have returned home without success on the field, because they were sometimes encouraged to go when they should have been counselled to wait, or even not go.
The mistakes made are shared by those who go and by those who send them and those who support them. I have no desire to blame anyone, but this fact must be recognised if we are to walk in the light.
More than ever before it is so important those who know in their hearts that they’re called to the mission fields of the world should contact a recognised mission’s organisation and be responsibly prepared and trained for the task ahead.
Key scriptures regarding world harvesting
- John 4:35(ISV) – ‘You say, don’t you, “In four more months the harvest will begin?” Look, I tell you, open your eyes and observe that the fields are ready for harvesting now!’
- Matthew 9:37-38 – ‘Then he told his disciples, “The harvest is vast, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest”.’
- 2 Corinthians 9:10 –‘Now he who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat will also supply you with seed and multiply it and enlarge the harvest that results from your righteousness.’
- Galatians 6:9 – ‘Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest – if we do not give up.’
My prayer is that everyone, every church will have such a heart… and that whoever is called both knows it and is willing to be thoroughly trained!
Dr George Forbes is internationally recognised as a missionary spokesperson with a heart for the lost of the nations. With a wealth of missionary knowledge and a unique ability to communicate the global picture, he is widely known as the ‘story-teller.’ Link: firstname.lastname@example.org