LCM FIELD DIRECTOR FOR EAST LONDON, GARETH JONES, SPOKE TO CHURCH LEADERS IN LONDON OF THE VISION FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH TO BE ENGAGED AND EQUIPPED IN GOSPEL MINISTRY.
When I think of a harvest, I usually have an image of a man in a large combine harvester bringing in the crop. But the picture that Jesus’ first hearers would have had in mind is different; the harvest was the most important time of year. To bring the crop in, the whole village would go out into the field, and everybody would be involved. A few years ago, I was heading into a shopping centre where I saw a woman looking quite dishevelled begging outside. As I passed, I felt compelled to speak with her, so I went up, knelt down and began talking with her. As we talked and I found out a little about who she was, I began to share the gospel with her. At the end of our short conversation, I prayed with her, and then went on my way.
BESIDE THE WELL
I love reading the power of Jesus’ words in John’s gospel. He says the fields are ripe unto harvest immediately after meeting the Samaritan woman by the well. This woman was at the well at midday, rejected by her community, and was quite possibly barren and rejected by men. Jewish men of the time didn’t talk with women, certainly not Samaritan women. But Jesus goes out of his way to speak and to share truth with her.
He says, “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life”. And then she goes on to talk about the Messiah coming. I love this: Jesus replies, “The Messiah that you’re talking about, “I am he”. Jesus announces himself as the answer, the truth, the one that has long been promised. It totally revolutionises this woman’s life. She goes back to the village and tells everybody that she’s met the Messiah, and she soon brings them all to come and hear Jesus. This whole village is transformed by the power of the gospel!
Meanwhile, the disciples come back with food asking Jesus if he wants something to eat. And Jesus says this, “My food is to do the will of the Father who sent me.” His satisfaction comes as he does God’s work. That’s an important thing as we look to the church in London. The truth is that the church finds its satisfaction as it does the will of God. Whether it’s in a supporting capacity or at a face-to-face level, engaging in gospel ministry is where the church finds its purpose.
More recently, I was involved with a church plant. We’d invited some women who had come through a Christian addiction recovery programme for an evening of sharing their testimonies of how God brought them out of addition and brought them to himself. It was a wonderful evening. At the end of their presentation, one of the women came up to me and asked if I remembered her. And I had to admit that I didn’t remember her at all. “I was sitting out by the shopping centre. And you came to speak to me, and you prayed with me.” I was just blown away by the fact that one small conversation was part of God’s hand on this woman’s life. She looked so completely different that I didn’t even recognise her. The truth is that people today need the gospel. And the fields are ripe unto harvest. Remember the story of how Jesus stepped out, and spoke to the Samaritan woman. Remember the woman I stepped out to speak to. God used my weakness. Be encouraged that today the gospel work that we engage with makes a difference, and it changes lives.
Look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. John 4