One of the things I miss about living in Michigan is being able to pick strawberries in the summer. I’d always wanted to go, but I wanted to go with my friends. However, God insisted that I go picking on my own. Let the record show, I am addicted to strawberries: strawberry ice cream, cupcakes, smoothies, lemonade, yogurt, cheesecake, candy, you name it. As I was doing my picking, I was amazed to see how strawberries were grown—it was awesome! I was able to see the tiniest berries to the largest berry of the bunch. I was aware of the green ones that were not ready yet to the ones that were at risk of going bad. I sensed that God had revealed something about evangelism to me during this experience.
When it comes to evangelism, many of us in ministry tend to go the “easy route.” While I was picking, I felt that it was better for me to pick out the strawberries that were visible in my sight. I didn’t want to go too far out in case I ended up dealing with “wildlife.” A family that was farther down the field seemed as though they were out there for a good minute. So I decided to go where they were. To my surprise, I was able to find the strawberries that were ready to be picked.
Don’t rush the reaping process for those who are not ready. Many of us ministers tend to rush people into making decisions for baptism. I noticed there were some strawberries that were far from being ready to pick. If I were to pick them prematurely, the results would be bitter. I have learned to give them some time to ripen.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” It takes patience to be able to gain authentic results.
Some people require you to reach out to them. Don’t assume the person who is “ripe” is easy to find. Get out of your comfort zone. Some of the best strawberries I picked were farther from my car and more “plentiful.” I had to reach through some of the leaves to get the “perfect” strawberry. It took a good amount of risk to get to most of them.
God is telling me that in order for me to save souls for the kingdom, I must go out. It’s important to be able to become more intentional in our approach to evangelism. Practically, this means we shouldn’t fully rely on passing tracks to an evangelistic meeting and call it “evangelism. ” There’s more to evangelism than just waiting for a Revelation series or going door-to-door. The most powerful tool for evangelism is your lifestyle. This doesn’t mean we are supposed be a super Adventist. Our relationship with God and others is what matters. I am learning how to build meaningful relationships with the intent of showing other’s love, and hopefully, they will know the secret in my life is Jesus.
There is an urgency for reaping those who are officially “ripe.” As I was picking, I noticed there were some strawberries that had fully ripened, but they had either gone bad or were being consumed by worms. There are those who are ready, but they have been overlooked. They wanted to make that decision but were disregarded. Perhaps those who were reaping had underestimated their ripeness. Perhaps the “harvester” assumed they were too young to be considered “ripe.” This shocked me because God wanted to bring this last revelation to my attention.
There are those who are ready to take the next step but need guidance. As a youth pastor, I have noticed that some of us adults assume a child is not ready for the next step of baptism or to serve in the church, inadvertently putting an age limit on readiness. I’m not saying we should baptize a two-year-old, but if a child fully understands the meaning of baptism and the importance of the Christian Faith, we should not delay that next step.
George Barna, one of the world’s leading statisticians said in his book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority, “Moral foundations of children are generally determined by the time the individual reaches age nine.”
Our children are the greatest weapons of discipleship. I have seen how they are eager to tell others about Jesus. With the discernment from the Holy Spirit, we are able to notice those who are authentically “ripe.”
We must not rush the process. We must get out of our comfort zones. We must be on the lookout for those who are ready to take the next step of baptism and be available to reap the harvest at the right time. The Bible tells us, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (Luke 10:2 NLT).
At this point in earth’s history, God is calling us to finish this work by bringing others to Him. As my spiritual mother once preached, “It is time to get out of the huddle (church)” and win souls for the Kingdom of God. Now is the time to go out into the fields and reap the harvest.
Darnisha Thomas is serving as the pastor for Student Ministries and Volunteer Engagement at New Hope Adventist Church in Fulton, Maryland. She also blogs on www.nishaisnaturallyadorned.com where she frequently discusses practical theology and life with a touch of pink.
Image Credit: FreeImages.com / George Liang
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