"Do you not say, 'Four months more, and then the harvest?' I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." John 4:35
My Grandpa Ben Wolters was a farmer. He lived a mile south of the village of Graafschap, near Holland, Michigan, when I was a boy. I remember the excitement of harvest time back then. The farmers all worked together to bring in the harvest of wheat. I helped out in the fields pitching the bundles of wheat onto a wagon which was taken to the barn when it was loaded.
The most exiting time was seeing the huge Huber tractor with the big threshing machine behind it come rumbling down Graafschap Road (which was just a gravel road at that time). It was great to see it turn into "our" yard! The threshing machine was unhitched and pushed up close to the barn. Then the tractor was moved many feet away near the road and a huge, wide belt was connected to pulleys on both the tractor and the threshing machine. This caused the parts on the threshing machine to move. The bundles of wheat were pitched onto a conveyor and into the machine. In it, the wheat was separated from the straw. The wheat was collected and the straw was blown into a corner of the barn.
Oh, what work! Young and old were working hard and sweating. The farmers' wives were hard at it in the kitchen too, because working men eat like the horses that pulled the wagons. Harvest time meant that the planting time was past, the growing time was past, and before the crop would spoil in the field, it must be harvested. Those few weeks were a high point in the year for the farmers; an exciting time!A time for the hardest work, the longest hours. It was the most exhausting time, but an extremely important time.
But there is a harvest time that is even more exciting and urgent. It is the harvest that Jesus calls to our attention. It is the harvest in which he himself is deeply involved. What did Jesus see when he spoke the words of the text above? He was not looking at physical crops. Jesus saw people! What people? Unloved Samaritan people were coming toward him at the invitation of a woman who said, "Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"
Jesus was looking at people the disciples would rather not look at. These searching people were important to Jesus! He looked at them with compassion and love. He wanted his disciples change their minds and look at the Samaritans with love and compassion as he did.
Throughout the years, many workers have gone out into the harvest fields, workers like William Carey, Hudson Taylor, William Cameron Townsend, Samuel Zwemer, and many more. They went out, weeping, carrying precious seed of the Gospel, and they were welcomed home bringing their sheaves with them.
Even now God is bringing in the harvest. In the year 2006, I was in the country of Bangladesh. There, as a retired pastor, I had the privilege of helping baptize 125 people one day in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Our workers there have planted more than 2,000 churches in the last 40 years in that majority Muslim country. For security reasons, I will not share any more information here.
Jesus said, "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field." One of the workers is Chad Vanden Bosch who works in Mozambique, Africa. Some years ago, he gave me picture. It showed a field of waving wheat with the sun low in the sky. The inscription on top reads, "Don't let the sun go down on this Harvest."
To supplement flesh and blood workers, God has allowed our generation to have little audio Bibles that fit in the palm of your hand. I call them "plastic preachers" or "electronic evangelists." They are very discreet but faithfully tell the old, old, Story over and over.
All praise and glory to God!