“To participate in the Great Commission by assisting, supporting and encouraging the national missionary initiative at the local level. We will not count our work of evangelism and discipleship finished in an area until self-supporting, indigenously led, reproducing-churches are planted.”
This is the mission statement of Harvesters, yet frequently people only remember the first sentence because it is the feel-good, spiritual “quick-fix” aspect of the ministry, but it is only the beginning. We do not want to start churches that are going to exist on baby food supplied by a nurturing parent (mission organization) for perpetuity. Our heart is to disciple them to go deeper in their faith and they do likewise with the church.
Each of our partners face unique challenges in the areas where they minister – some due to the geographic environment, some due to the political climate and some from being a misunderstood minority religion. Regardless of the circumstances, our God is in control, knows the challenges and is bigger than the road block. He does not start works in people or ministries that He does not intend to finish. We as Harvesters have accepted the challenge of being the intermediary between the indigenous partners and the Western Church. We are a conduit to see what and how they are ministering then determine the needs and share them with the church in America.
Currently, several of our partners are working diligently to establish different levels of self-sustainability not only in their churches but in other aspects of their ministries as well. Self-sustainability projects vary greatly and always need to be generated by the national partners. Take for example our partner in Myanmar, Pastor “Benjamin”. Prior to cyclone Nargis in 2008, Pastor “Benjamin” had a small pig project that helped to support him as a pastor and his family. During the cyclone his pigs ran away seeking shelter from the blast. Harvesters was able to assist the pastor by supplying funds to replace the pigs and the pig house. This project has produced side benefits that we in the west would often overlook.
First, of course, the project is a means of supplying food for the pastor, his family and the orphans living in his home.
Secondly, the piglets can be sold when ministry needs arise, thus assisting in funding projects that may have previously needed funding from outside sources.
Beyond these two benefits which we generally see are the benefits of security for the ministry from the existing government that the orphans are being supported from funds generated in the country and not from outside sources and two that it sets a pattern for the children and upcoming theological school graduates of a positive work ethic and a way to achieve goals in the future.
It is biblical to be tent-makers while sharing the word of the Lord.
Grace Outreach Mission in southern Kenya is another ministry that is seeking to be more self-sustaining which is enabling the ministry to reach out into new areas.
Pastor Philip shared a vision to have a tractor and trailer to be able to assist in producing a larger quantity of crops without the need of the middle man who used to harvest the fields and transport the harvest for the ministry.
Because of the tractor, the ministry has added a sizeable amount of acreage and now has sufficient crop to feed the children at the orphanage, assist church members in need and still have crop to sell which is supplying school fees for the children in secondary school.
Pastor Philip had anticipated this need before it happened – this year there were three in secondary school, but within the next few years that number will increase sizably.
He has also started a fish pond which will assist in supplement the nutritional needs of the orphans and again produce surplus that is available for sale that will assist with other projects such as a secondary school and vocational training center that the ministry is developing.
As we continue in our role of the intermediary, we must continue to make sure that we balance our zeal to share the Gospel with the expectation of the ministries becoming self-sustaining. The Lord continues to expand our boundaries, but we will not consider our work complete with any of our existing partners until they are self-supporting. We must listen to them and share their needs, vision and challenges as well as potential solutions in order for this to happen – they know their communities and they also have a deep trust in the Lord. This is a three-way partnership that can bring great glory to the Lord.
If you are considering how you or your church can help, please call and ask us questions about the self-supporting projects that our partners currently have or have a vision for – they are many and diverse, but all will bring glory to the King of Kings.
Harvesters’ main office may be reached at (843) 689-6213, or by email at [email protected].