Grain harvest

PICTURE: Paz Arando/Unsplash

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” - Matthew 9:37

When I was a rural reporter, one story I wrote was about Northern Rivers guava farmers who lost their only processing plant in Australia when it closed down. The plant bought most of the produce the farmers grew and would turn it into guava juice for general consumption.

As the farmers knew they wouldn’t be getting paid for their fruit, they had no money to pay people to harvest it for them. Effectively, the farmers had to allow the fruit to just rot on the ground. It was heartbreaking. Knowing the effort they had gone into, to grow the fruit and not have it reach its full potential, broke many of the farmers.

"Harvesting may not mean teaching Scripture. It may simply be showing love to someone who feels unloved, being a friend to someone who is friendless, supporting someone who needs a friendly hand."

That must be how God feels when He sees so many people needing the hope, grace and love He has to offer, but not enough ‘workers’ to show them. It has never been more evident than amongst today’s young people. According to the 2016 Australian Census, 39 per cent of young adults aged between 18 to 34 report having no religion. This is well over a third of them who are missing out on a relationship with their Creator.

According to suicide prevention organisation Lifeline, suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between the ages of 15 and 44. In 2019, 3,318 Australians took their own life. That’s 3,318 people who saw no point in living any longer. They possibly had no hope, no one to share the burden of what caused them to take their life and no way of seeing how it could be dealt with other than a self-inflicted death.

But there is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and, as Christians, we have the answer to that for so many people. Right now, Scripture is still legislated to be taught in NSW public schools. A teacher friend recently told me there are 300 primary school children at her school whose parents have opted in for Scripture, but there are no volunteers to teach it. Think of it, a whole generation of children who may not hear the good news of the Gospel because there aren’t enough workers.

Harvesting may not mean teaching Scripture. It may simply be showing love to someone who feels unloved, being a friend to someone who is friendless, supporting someone who needs a friendly hand.

Like the fruit unable to be harvested, many people may never know the full potential they can reach in their spiritual journey. This hit home to me recently, when the news of a 17-year-old local girl drowned in a tragic accident in the nearby river. She had been a student in my Scripture classes when I was teaching a number of years ago. I prayed for her family, who were understandably devastated, but I also prayed that somewhere in her last moments, she was able to reach out to God and know she was loved, that perhaps something of what she learnt in Scripture back in kindergarten and Year 1 had stayed with her and provided the comfort she needed in her darkest moment.

Where is God calling you to be a worker in the harvest?

In Australia, for anyone who is experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, call Lifeline on 131114.