by Jon Konnerup
We would all agree 2008 was a very unusual year. Although many were dealing with repercussions of the financial slide around the world, the BBFI had a high number of 46 individuals being approved as missionaries. However, 2009 is expected to be even harder with regard to the economy, retirement, and jobs. This may result in less funds available for giving to the work of the Lord. We are already experiencing a decline of those coming to be approved as missionaries. In fact, 2009 could be our lowest year in a long time.
According to scripture and our BBFI philosophy, these laborers should come from our churches and be supported by our churches. I know there are many in the training process in their churches, our colleges, and internship programs, but I constantly think about what Jesus said in Matthew 9:37 and 38:
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
After seeing the multitudes and their spiritual condition, Jesus knew the laborers were few. In response, He told His disciples to pray for more laborers. I believe this is the key — praying for more laborers. When we spend time on our knees, we are right where God wants us to be — in an attitude of prayer. I also believe God still answers prayer. When we pray for more laborers, several things are possible: God will send the one who is praying, He will send someone else whose heart is tender, or He might do both.
Perhaps the proper question to ask then is do we really believe the harvest is plentiful? Do we understand that laborers are few and that we need more of them? If we do, when was the last time we prayed, “Lord of the harvest, send forth laborers?”
For our churches to fulfill the Great Commission, we must be on our knees praying for more laborers to go from our church and other churches. The leaders of these churches must set the example by providing and encouraging opportunities of prayer once the need is strongly expressed. Every church member needs to be mobilized to pray for more missionaries. Sunday school classes and other small groups need to take ownership of this task. Keeping missionaries, unreached people groups, and the lost of the world before the church (from children to senior saints) is the way to develop an attitude of prayer for more servants globally.
This means that parents who dedicated their children to the Lord when they were young ought to be willing to encourage their children to go to the regions beyond. Yes, our world is volatile in many places. But it is better to be in the center of God’s will in a foreign land than out of His will at home. According to James 4:14, our lives are but a vapor when compared to eternity. What we do during this short life makes a huge difference for eternity. When our churches are mobilized to pray, God moves and eternity is impacted.
Youth pastors play a key role in our efforts to send more laborers. They have a strong influence with our youth and must encourage missions and the ministry as a viable option for their teens. I have met young people who have surrendered to serve God full time because they were taught and challenged to pray for the lost world and for more missionaries. During the time on their knees, God spoke to them and they accepted the call to be the ones to go.
Of course, this all starts with the pastor. If the pastor of the church is not praying for more missionaries and communicating this consistently to the church, few youth pastors, young people, and parents will take this matter seriously. Someone must cast the vision, lead in the task, set the goals, show the way, mobilize their church, and pray.
The bottom line is, do we have the same vision Jesus had of the lost multitudes? If we do not, then we will not be praying, few will surrender, few will be approved, and few will be led from living in darkness to living in the light of Jesus Christ.
However, we can make an eternal difference in our world when we see the world as Jesus saw it, when we see the multitudes of lost souls, when we realize the need for more missionaries, and when we understand that the action to be taken is prayer. When was the last time you prayed for more servants to go and tell the good news to the world? The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few..