We are studying in Matthew 13, the parable of the sower. We are learning that if he expects to reap a harvest the sower needs to prepare both himself and the soil. We’ve determined that there are two ploughs needed for breaking up hard ground; prayer and love. And one key way to plough love and prayer into people is to invest time with them, 10,000 hours to be exact.
We tell others God has commanded us to go to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, but then we neglect to do our jobs as sowers. Good farmers sow, but they first plough up the ground before sowing.
In order to plough up a hard heart—to experience God’s love—Muslims, Hindus & Buddhists need to be with people who love God. And the only natural way any of us is going to get enough time with someone who has a hard heart, IS TO WORK WITH THEM.
When a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist experiences grace, forgiveness & love (day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out) they’ve no answer for it. Like the magicians before Moses, they have solutions and answers in the beginning, but over time, they run out of answers and become convinced and exclaim—THIS IS THE FINGER OF GOD!
From my own experience and of hundreds of B4T workers as well as traditional missionaries who have shared their stories with me, I’ve learned that the first three to five times people who know nothing of Jesus experience His love, grace, forgiveness, they simply assume we don’t understand the language and culture. And then the next five to 15 times when they realize our language is okay and we grasp the culture, they begin to seriously consider the fact that we are just stupid. But somewhere between the 20th and 30th times (and that usually takes 6+ years) they connect the dots. They realize for themselves it is Jesus who makes us like we are and it is then that things begin to change in their hearts and minds. This is ploughing deeply.
Often we say to the church back home, “These people are hard,” or “the work is so difficult,” but we keep on sowing. Jesus shouts to the crowds in Matthew 13, LISTEN! PLEASE LISTEN!
If you know that the soil is hard, you don’t keep sowing. You start ploughing!
If the soil is dry—water.
If the soil lacks nutrients—fertilize.
But in reality, what do we do? We keep sowing! And then there’s no harvest and we blame the soil. People with hard hearts close their ears to advice, but open their eyes to example.
A witness is someone who has seen something and then reports it to another. But often our witnessing only involves words. If people are going to grasp the meaning and value of love, they need to see it and experience it. Love is not taught, it is caught. Love may be a noun in the English language, but it’s a verb in the Bible—an action. Working day in and day out with people enables people to see God’s love at work in our lives and experience the finger of God.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.