A Harvest in the Making!

Sam’s baptism!
Sam Phelps (center left) was baptized last Sunday! With him are Charles Anderson, Ronneil Herron, Kevin Burns, his newly baptized wife Sue, and Bob Thomas.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” – John 4:34-36

In this passage, Jesus calls us to obey and complete the will of God. In order to finish the Father’s work of reaching the world for Christ (Matthew 28:18-20), we must set our personal expectations aside! Expectations based on our merit alone are nothing to what God can do through us! Normally in Israel, it took at least 4 months between the latest sowing and the earliest reaping. But in the Lord’s work the sowing and harvesting are taking place simultaneously. “Even now” is stated twice in vs. 36, an indicator that God can move the hearts of others to make an urgent and radical decision to make Jesus Lord of their lives, not according to our timetable, but to His own! As a result, those who sow by working to make disciples of Jesus will rejoice with those who have received the grace of God and are reaped from the corruption of this world! As disciples of Jesus we have the opportunity to reap a harvest that others have sowed and labored over. The work of Jesus and His apostles, as well as past heroes of the faith have set the foundation by blazing a trail of true discipleship. Now it is our charge to lead people to the truth, and finish the Great Commission that Jesus has assigned to us!

As a result of taking Jesus’ admonition to heart, the Central NY church has a goal that will prayerfully move the heart of God to increase the miracles in CNY! From January 28 to February 28, we praying and relying on God to produce much fruit through a Harvest Month! It is our hope that in one month we can meet the goal of the 9 souls who were baptized since the fall of last year. According to God’s will, we have already seen the fruit of our labor as Sam Phelps was baptized into Christ on Sunday, January 28th after service! Sam is the husband of Sue Phelps, who was baptized on New Year’s Eve! In addition, we have officially restored another sister, Nicole Saltalamachia, who was previously part of a Christian church in the area. She was inspired and grateful to be part of a sold-out fellowship where everyone was called to the standard of Jesus, and where discipleship and evangelism was not only talked about but was actually put into practice.

Sue’s baptism!
Susan Phelps (center left) was baptized on New Year’s Eve! With her are Patrique Smellie, Pam O’Donnell, Tina Henshaw and Mary Thomas who studied with her.

Nicole’s restoration!
Nicole Saltalamachia (second from right) was restored on New Year’s Eve! With her are Colleen MacKay, Patrique Smellie and Sarah Perry who studied with her.

Many of those who lack the urgent conviction of saving souls as their “food” don’t appreciate the fact that the work of a disciple is truly an extension of Jesus’ work. In John 20:21, Jesus states, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” It is clear from this passage that Jesus’ focus must be our focus, and we must make sure we are prepared to put his commands into action. I am so proud of the faith and vision of one of our single parents, Barb Johnson, as she is an example of preparing for much fruit! On Saturday, January 27th, Barb invites us down to Ithaca, NY for the groundbreaking / dedication of her new home! She stated, “I want to outwardly recognize that the house and land belong to the Lord, and my plan and my hope are to use them for his service in the years to come.” What a heart for God! Barb designed her home, complete with a “Great Room” for house church services! To God be the glory!

Barb’s groundbreaking!
Barb Johnson (red scarf – fourth from right) celebrating her groundbreaking with the crew from Ithaca and Syracuse!

In Colossians 4:2-6, we see the effort it will take to make the next 30 days a fruitful experience in CNY. The Scriptures state, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let you conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” In order to have a successful harvest month, God calls us to rely on him as we prepare to give Him our best! Through our devotion to prayer, we will be watchful and thankful for souls who have never known of the grace and truth of our Lord. As a result of our faith and effectiveness (Acts 14:1), many will prayerfully be inspired to know the saving grace of God, repent of their sins, and make Jesus Lord of their lives.

With such a faithful goal, we are prepared for the attack of the Enemy to tempt us to feel that we don’t have what it takes to help others to know God. In Mark 6:30-44, we see the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with only 5 loaves and 2 fishes. He had compassion on the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. As a result, he took the time to teach the truth to them. In this situation, His disciples were unfaithful, rationally thinking that there was no way to provide physical satisfaction for this multitude of people. Instead of catering to their unbelief, Jesus dealt with their lack of faith by directing them to feed the people with the meager resources they had. Jesus thanked God for what they had, and through an extraordinary miracle, all of the 5000 were able to eat and went home satisfied! Even now disciples of Jesus can be tempted by Satan into thinking that our meager resources will not be enough to win this world. This is a lie to discourage us from obeying and completing the Master’s work! If Jesus could instruct His disciples to use their meager supplies of bread and fish to feed thousands, how much more can He do through us now to win the world for Him? Pray for us as we put our plans before the Lord and watch as he blesses our faith with much fruit! And to God be all the Glory!

Andrew Smellie