After nearly two decades of ministry I have observed who the best harvester is. I have seen several kinds of prospective harvesters.
First, are theological students. These are usually young men who think that Bible School is some kind of reform school which will correct their character, build their knowledge so they can find the secret to growing a large church. After years of training, they have impressive credentials, a long list of recommendations from top leaders, yet lack any practical experience, except for the annual field trip their Bible college took to the village. For four years they have been given a free education, 3 meals a day, 24/7 electricity and city water services all in a structured environment. In their first interview they quickly pose the question of salary and benefits.
Second, a poor illiterate farmer. They have lived in the same village for thirty years and know everyone around. They walk two kilometers for water every day, and it is not clean; They cannot not even imagine what electricity can do, nor have ever touched a paved road. At one point they nearly died of sickness and the closest hospital was six hours away, so they prayed to Jesus and were healed. Within a month of believing in Jesus, they have “led” several other people to Christ as well, but they don’t even know what they are doing. They are hungry to learn. They just want someone to teach them. They are willing to walk or ride a bicycle for hours to receive teaching. They live just like 80% of Cambodia does.
Who is the best harvester? I would take the poor illiterate farmer any day over the theological student and he will produce a hundred fold more fruit in one year than most theological students will produce in a life time!
What is difference? I believe it can be found in two things: passion and utter dependence on God.
In helping to train and equip leaders, I try my hardest to never quench these two characteristics. Like pouring water on a fire, passion can be quenched with criticism, discouragement and negative attitudes. In everything we do, we seek to build up, encourage and inspire the leaders regardless of what their clothes look like, their economic status, or lack of degrees and knowledge. I never worry about illiteracy among the trainers and within months all trainers are literate. A passionate believer will teach himself the written language in as little as a month, and if he struggles, I have seen dozens of believers miraculously been gifted with literacy with only a prayer!
Dependence on God is trickier to maintain. I have found I need to continually make sure they can never become dependent on me or any other person. If they do, they lose their dependence on God and their lifeline to Jehovah Jirah (The Lord Provider). If I resist to use my resources to “solve” their physical problems, God will provide for them and their faith with growth. When their faith grows anything becomes possible. Indeed, they can move mountains. A poor illiterate believer can start a half a dozen churches in a year and personally lead a hundred people to Christ; all the while being under persecution for his faith and being banned from publically worshipping the Lord!
This is a harvester which God can use to change a nation. The more we can raise up, the faster the fields can be harvested!