Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 21 : Pray for Laborers | Day 145

Perfect Your Harvesting Skills!

When Hudson Taylor realized that God was calling him to be a missionary to the interior of China, he not only began to learn the language and the customs of the people, but he also adopted the rigorous physical and spiritual disciplines needed to be effective. He began developing these disciplines before he ever set foot on his harvest field.

Over the years, I have met a number of young men who are sure that God has called them to be a missionary or a preacher. When I ask them how many people they have already led to the Lord and how many they are discipling, they often look at me with surprise, and say, "None."

What are they waiting for? They expect that training at a Bible school or seminary will make them into a missionary or a preacher. While training is vital, no amount of information can make an effective witness and disciple-maker out of one who does not already possess this passion and is not actively seeking to fulfill these roles. Likewise, an airplane ride to another country will not make an effective missionary out of one who has not already engaged in successful ministry at home.

The light that shines the farthest must shine the brightest at home.

On a ministry trip to Bolivia, I had a two-day layover in La Paz. I stayed with a missionary family who asked if I would present a "chalk talk" that evening at their little church. I eagerly agreed and volunteered to go out and invite many of the people I had seen in the streets. The missionary replied, "You don't need to do that. I will make some phone calls." Later I offered a second time, and he said, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it."

I could tell that he had many other things to attend to, so I asked his son to be my interpreter, and we went out to the streets. Everyone we invited said they would come to the meeting. As I joyfully shared this news with the missionary, he responded by saying, "Bill, I did not want you to be discouraged. These people will agree to come, but they will not show up."

That evening as his little congregation assembled, the people I had invited from the streets also began arriving. I smiled at them from the platform as the missionary turned to me and said, "I have been serving here for 19 years, and I have never had a response like this!"

David was able to boldly face Goliath because the skills he developed while tending his father's sheep had been tested, and he was confident in God's faithfulness to deliver him. (See I Samuel 17:37.)

Why did the people come? It was because I used the same method on the streets of Bolivia that I had learned "at home" on the streets of Chicago. I would walk up to a group of young people and say, "I am looking for a group who would like to know what God's answers are to life's three great questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going?" This approach was usually effective in creating curiosity and caused people to want to hear the message I would then present in a chalk talk.

What can you do in your own hometown to develop and perfect your harvesting skills so that God can use you in greater ways?

“Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard