First We Pray
A bright yellow banner we purchased in Beijing hangs in my office at the church. We found the banner at a Christian scroll shop tucked away in the "arts district" of Beijing. When we got there, the door was locked but we knocked and the owners let us in. The shop is so narrow that I could stretch my arms and almost touch both walls at the same time. It is a little oasis of hope in the middle of Beijing. Somehow (I do not know how) the owners keep their little shop open even though the word "Hallelujah" and other Christian words fill the front windows. We ended up buying quite a few scrolls that day, and we did not bargain because it is an honor to pay full price to brothers and sisters who have such courage.
As I was looking at the scrolls on the wall, my eye kept coming back to the bright yellow one. It shows a Chinese farming scene. You can see the workers harvesting their crops. But there are only a few workers, and the field is very large. Above that scene the artist printed the following words of Jesus in Chinese: "Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'" (Matthew 9:37-38 ESV). The moment I saw it, tears came to my eyes. It reminds me to pray for my brothers and sisters in China (and in many other countries) who face threats and intimidation every day because of their faith.
And it reminds me of what we must do at Calvary this year. Last weekend the elders and pastors came together for an overnight retreat. We spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be "The Church in Many Places," our 2005 theme. We wrapped up our retreat by getting on our knees and crying out to God to lead us. There were more than a few tears as men cried out to God for his power. I heard men confess their great need of compassion for the lost all around us: "Lord, give me a burden for my neighbors." It was the sort of praying I hadn’t heard in many years. A week has passed and I'm still impacted by the sound of godly men crying out to the Lord.
We are asking God to give us 500 men, women and children who will be trained to share Christ with others. In the days to come we will offer many opportunities to be part of the "Calvary 500." But the words of Jesus remind us that when we lack laborers for the harvest, first we must pray. Our plans will come to nothing without the Lord's help. Pray with us. Ask God to raise up the "Calvary 500," and then ask him what part you should have in reaching others for Christ this year.
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