When I was younger, I can remember that one of the funnest things that we did as a family, was plant a garden. I know, only a country boy would say something like, but it was really a fun time with my family. We actually had competitions to see who could have the best garden and who would have the best results. We would start early, preparing the ground and then plant the seeds in rows for each vegetable. As the small plants would grow, I would remove the weeds that if not taken out, could hinder the growth of the plants or even kill them. As the hot summer days would pass, the plants would grow and spread, and it wasn’t long until they were ready to be harvested. From that time, I had to pick the vegetables sometimes twice a week or they would go to waste. It was amazing to see how much each plant could produce; so much so, that often we would give buckets away to friends and neighbors. As I think back on those days it reminds me of a harvest that is much greater and much more important every where we go and especially here in Bolivia. This harvest is similar in several ways and should motivate us to want to do more to reach it.
The Harvest is Ready:
As my plants would grow, I would check on them regularly, waiting until they were finally mature and ready, so that the vegetables wouldn’t go to waste. There is something similar that is happening with the harvest in Bolivia and around the world… it is ready. The one thing that motivated me more than anything else to come to Bolivia as a missionary, was to see how many people were without the truth and being taught everything but the truth. Most of the people that we speak to about the gospel say that they are Catholic, even though they haven’t been to church for a long time. This is because from the time they were very little, they were taught that they were Catholic and that they could under no circumstances change. We have even had people whose family has gotten very upset with them and even stopped talking to them, because they decided to follow Christ. Not only that, but we have many other religions, for example: Mormons, Jehovahs Witnesses and Adventists, that are constantly bombarding the people with their false doctrine. So, you see the harvest is ready, and if we don’t reap it, someone else will.
The Harvest is Abundant:
This was another thing that amazed me about my plants and garden. I would pick the vegetables and literally in a couple of days I could go back and there would be more ready to pick. I almost couldn’t keep up with it at times. That is the same way I feel here in Bolivia. As I drive around our city, of over a million people, it breaks my heart to see communities of several hundred thousand people that have no church preaching the gospel to them. I have said it before but there are probably twenty specific areas in our city that I have been praying for many years and if we had someone prepared, we could start a church immediately. The problem is that the harvest is great but as Jesus made clear, the laborers are few. It is overwhelming at times because I want to reach those areas now, but we still lack laborers to reach them.
The Harvest is Urgent:
The part that was the hardest for me, when I planted a garden, was to see much of the harvest would rot on the vine, because there just wasn’t enough time to get it all. By the end of the season, I would just stop picking and the plants would slowly begin to deteriorate and die. In the harvest for souls, here in Bolivia, it is much more urgent because it is a matter of eternity at stake. Yesenia is a young girl that had a very rough upbringing. She lived with her mom but her mom didn’t really take care of her or her brother. She would be gone for large periods of time and leave them at home by themselves. When they were very young, her mother came home one day and basically said that she didn’t want them anymore and that they would have to look for somewhere to live. This was devastating for her and she took to the street, not knowing what to do. She contacted her father and one of her father’s friends, a lady named Essperanza, set off to find her. The interesting thing was that Essperanza had recently started attending our church and had gotten saved. She found Yesenia and her brother and began to help take care of them. She also began bringing them to church with her for every service. It wasn’t long until Yesenia put her faith in Christ as her Savior. About a year later, on New Years, she gave a testimony about how she had already planned to commit suicide when Essperanza found her. She told how her life had no purpose and she was going to end it, until she came to know Christ. She told how her life was now filled with joy and purpose and how she loves coming to church where she has a real family. I can only think of how the story might be very different, if Yesenia hadn’t had a church to go to. How many people, here in Cochabamba, like her are suffering and without hope and unless we can get a church in their neighborhood, to give them the good news the harvest might be lost. Please pray for laborers in Bolivia and especially our city of Cochabamba. We are praying that at least two more families would come and join us in reaping the harvest and many more churches can be started.