Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. – Matthew 9:38
Christ calls all of His followers to be co-missionaries and co-laborers with Him. The call may not be to some far off and distant land; it is first the calling to reach those in your community. Have you accepted the responsibility to reach who you can in this world?
If you are ready to acknowledge the evangelistic reality that the harvest is plenteous, and if you accept your evangelistic responsibility to be a worker in evangelism, then you must now accomplish your evangelistic role by going into the fields as a laborer in evangelism.
Jesus not only demonstrated compassionate ministry to the multitudes, but He also observed that more laborers were necessary to meet the needs of so many people.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few… – Matthew 9:37
It is important to recognize that Jesus did not say that there needs to be more financial giving to missions (though such giving would be helpful). He did not say that we need to hold more missions conferences (though supporting more missionaries is always beneficial). Jesus identified the real need is for more people to accomplish their evangelistic role by entering the field to share the gospel. If you are going to accept your evangelistic role then you must enter the field.
“What must I do on the field?” you may be wondering. The role of evangelism is to proclaim the gospel. In a single sentence, Paul summarized the gospel, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (II Corinthians 5:19). Then Paul went further to clarify our role as believers in relation to the gospel, “…and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:19-20). Reconciliation, the act of bringing two contrary parties back into fellowship, required the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the death of Jesus God “hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21). Our role is to share the good news that sinners can be restored to a joyous relationship with God on the merits of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection alone. How do you proclaim the gospel? Evangelism can be described in many ways:
- “It is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.”
- Evangelism is bearing witness to Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).
- Evangelism is making disciples (Matthew 28:18).
No matter how you define it, it is important that you go into the field to share your testimony of finding Christ, bear witness to Jesus, and to make disciples.
“Who will I find when I enter the field,” is the next question to ask. The “multitudes” of your community may seem like an unclear designation, but looking at the people groups to whom Jesus ministered will reveal many similarities between His field and ours. The stories recorded in Matthew 8 and 9 reveal Jesus spending a lot of time ministering to many different people. Among those people were those who were:
- Physically sick (8:2; 9:2 – a leper, sick of the Palsy)
- Military members (8:5 – a Roman centurion)
- Mothers-in-law (8:14 – Peter’s mother-in-law – Jesus even cares for in-laws!)
- Deranged and Demon Possessed people (8:16, 28; 9:32)
- Government employees (9:10; Matthew, a tax collector for the Roman government)
- Religious Hypocrites (9:11; Pharisees)
- Spiritually inquisitive (9:14; Disciples of John the Baptist)
- Desperate parents who need help (9:18; Jairus the synagogue leader)
- The poor, diseased Woman (9:20; the woman with the issue of blood)
- Physically disabled (9:27 – two blind men) The multitudes that Jesus met are composed of the same types of people that we will find in our modern communities.
Most cities today are extensively cross-cultural and incredibly diverse. The world has come to our front door, and our mission field contains people groups locally that are also found globally. As near-neighbor Christians, our evangelistic efforts must reach similar people-groups right here in our own community. Consider reaching the multitudes in your own city which could include:
- Cross-cultural peoples such as Spanish, Asian, Indian, African, and European people
- Government workers such as military members, law enforcement, fire safety, and politicians
- The disenfranchised such as single mothers, widows, orphaned children, and the handicapped
- The marginalized such as the poor, homeless, addicts and drug abusers, and the incarcerated.
- Did I miss one? Reach them, too!
No matter what your background or predispositions, the Holy Spirit breaks down social and racial prejudices, and He enables us to reach beyond our own culture.In devising strategies to reach others, many should look to the Great Commission for direction (Matthew 28:18-20). You can participate in organized and coordinated events designed to “go” into the community with the purpose of sharing the gospel. These events are often hosted by the local church and involve reaching out to people by knocking on their door, hosting a booth at a fair, or visiting people who have visited the church. Sometimes churches will arrange short-term missions trips in another community or even a country to help churches reach their community or to train local nationals to reach their people. Secondly, you could seize opportunities through unplanned, informal conversations with people. The Gospel of John records many such conversations as a normal part of Jesus’s ministry (e.g. John 3 & 4). In either a coordinated event or through a natural point of contact, you can accomplish your evangelistic role. Here are some methods and mechanisms that may get you started in your outreach:
- Get Personal – personally invite those in the neighborhood to your local church
- Honor our Troops – greet military members when you see them and invite them to visit your church
- Become a Free Loader – start a new bus or van route to pick up people for church
- Exercise Your Rights – grab a microphone and preach at the courthouse
- Because You’re Worth It – start a Bible study for Ladies
- Be Available – share your faith with your coworkers or start a Bible study at the office
- Don’t Get Shut In – Go visit the sick in the hospitals and nursing homes
- Set Them Free – get involved in a jail ministry or addiction support ministry such as Mizpah Ministries or the Free Indeed Program to help reach those addicted to drugs or alcohol
- Be creative – design evangelistic outreach opportunities to reach subcultures or forgotten people at community events or within public schools. There isn’t one person who can do the work of evangelism by himself. It’s going to take every believer doing their part. If we all do our part, there will be a chain reaction of evangelism that continues.
You may say, “What can a regular believer like me really accomplish?” You must not yet know the story of Mr. Edward Kimball. He was a Sunday School teacher in Boston who enjoyed teaching and getting to know the young boys assigned to his class. One day a new boy arrived to his class, and Kimball promptly handed him a Bible as he smiled at him. The boy was unfamiliar with the Bible, but Kimball took time to show him where to turn for that day’s lesson. Kimball would later observe that he had never seen anyone whose mind was as spiritually dark as this young man’s.
As was his manner to do, Kimball got to know the boys’ occupations and hobbies and would make visits to see them. On a bright April day, Kimball went to visit his new student at the shoe store where he worked. Kimball was so worried and hesitant about visiting him and embarrassing him at work that he walked right passed the shoe store without even noticing. He dashed back to the store and determined to speak quickly with the boy. In his own words, Mr. Kimball said that, “I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoe box. Then I made my plea, and I feel that it was really a very weak one. I don’t know just what words I used… I simply told him of Christ’s love for him and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was of it. I think he said afterward that there were tears in my eyes. It seemed that the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, for there at once in the back of that shoe store in Boston the boy gave himself and his life to Christ.”
That day was April 21, 1855. That boy was the future great evangelist D.L. Moody. Immediately Moody began sharing his faith with others, including his own family. Moody would go on to witness to thousands of people across two continents.
Kimball was a layperson who had a natural point of contact with Moody. Although he was tempted not to go, he visited the boy and asked him to make a clear break with his life of sin and commit himself unconditionally to Jesus Christ. Kimball simply recognized his responsibility and his role in evangelism, and in the spirit of Christ he went to witness.
If you accept your evangelistic responsibility to be a worker in the harvest, then you must now accomplish your evangelistic role by going into the fields as a laborer in evangelism. Jesus has called you to labor in his fields…
Will you go unto the multitudes of your community?