Pray for Laborers
By Albert Gardner
The vineyard belongs to God, and so does the harvest. "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest' (Luke 10:2). Every Christian ought to be concerned with sowing, but the harvest is the reason we labor.
Harvest is great. It is thrilling to read about the rapid growth of the early church as the gospel was preached in every city, town, and hamlet! Paul and others would enter a city and leave after starting the Lord's church. Someone would be left to further teach and strengthen the new Christians while the rest of the group would move on to repeat the process of teaching, baptizing, and teaching. It is the greatest work known to man to be involved in this great harvest.
We have to face that the harvest has slowed down in recent years. We experienced great growth for a period of some twenty years. With filmstrips and charts we taught the distinctive message that made us what we are. Many would not come, so we went. We made the difference between truth and error stand out. We clearly taught the difference between the church and denominationalism. We have changed and growth has slowed.
Not all of the fault is ours, for the masses of people have changed, too, so the reception of the gospel is diminished. We thought it was our methods at fault. Methods are important, for we are to give heed to how we teach (Col. 4:6) as well as what we teach. Jesus used the right methods, and they killed him. They were not rejecting his methods but his truth. We may feel rejected if we teach the truth, but it is very likely that they have rejected what we teach rather than how we taught it.
Maybe one of the major causes for the decline in the number of baptisms is our loss of zeal for souls. That has caused us to turn inward, so we conduct programs and projects to teach and train ourselves. We spend most or our money on ourselves, having workshops for ourselves, promoting projects and programs for ourselves, yet we can't get half of the members to attend. These things are not bad but as they stand alone, they quench the zeal for souls because they are self-directed. We have left the emphasis of world-wide evangelism which is our very reason for existence.
Pray. Be careful what you pray! If you pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest, he may want to send you. Will you go? He may want you to go teach someone on your street or around the world. Will you go?
Isaiah said, "Here am I; send me." Will you let the Lord send you? He owns the vineyard and the harvest, so he wants the harvest to be great. He asks us to pray about the harvest. Will you do that? If we could just get every member of the church to pray about world evangelism, we could restore the zeal and the growth that goes with it. God gives the increase, but he uses people to do it by teaching his word.
The rapid growth of the early church took place because people with zeal and vision went everywhere preaching the gospel. We need not expect a harvest without first sowing the seed of the kingdom. God has put into the hands of his people the duty to teach other people. The Holy Spirit will not directly convert sinners, but his word is so powerful that when one person teaches another who believes and obeys it, that person is saved. There are not enough people teaching others.
Laborers are few. We have fewer missionaries around the world today than we have had in the last several years. It is increasingly difficult for missionaries to get support to go. Churches don't want to be bothered with the added problems connected with foreign work. Friends, we don't have a choice about whether we engage in world evangelism. This is the reason the church exists. There are many ways to do this, but it begins with an attitude of being "ready to do every good work" (Titus 3:1).
Lift up your eyes. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35). Elders, preachers, and Bible class teachers should stress world evangelism at every opportunity. Classes should show the needs and opportunities in the world. Parents should help their children to have a good attitude about world evangelism. The children may not go themselves, but if they have the right attitude instilled in them, they will support world evangelism.
We so much need to look. Milton refers to some who had their eyes sewn together. Are we that way? We need to open our eyes and look, and after seeing, do what we can to save sinners at home and abroad.
Between August 25 and 29 a campaign for Christ was held in Kiev on behalf of the Centre Church of Christ. The American workers were Ernest Burnette, Guy Dickenson, Fritz Ehrhart, and Jim Waldron, all of Atlanta. The studies were held on the campus of the Kiev Polytech Institute. The four class sessions, which began at 10:00 each day, were two hours long. The class ended at 9:00 P.M. The classes were taught in English and translated into Russian. The Russian translation of the personal evangelism booklet, Introduction to Faith, which consists of 200 questions, was used as the class workbook. Forty-two were baptized on August 29 and six more the following day. The Waldrons are remaining in Kiev for some time to keep on strengthening the saints. The attendance for the Centre congregation averages in the 90's each Lord's day. The sponsor of this work is the Avondale Church of Christ, 4017 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032. Phone: (404) 299-1475.