Thursday, December 09, 1999

God's Harvest Field

For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. 1 Cor 3:9-10

By the time the team of thirty-two Americans arrived at the hotel in Voronezh, we had traveled sixteen hours by plane, twelve hours by train, and an hour by bus. Looking discreet was not possible, our eighteen hundred pounds of humanitarian aid shouted all on its own that we were not “from around these parts”.

Despite jet lag, a night on the train and a cramped bus ride, the excitement of actually “arriving” fueled everyone’s energy. The noise of so many people, trying to coordinate suitcases, humanitarian aid, printed material and locate their rooms confounded the hotel employees and other guests. What are “they” doing “here”?

Which suticases go to which, counting out gospel tracks and bibles, assigning and coordinating, grabbing a snack of bananas and cheese just to keep going, such is the activity during the first hours of arrival at our destination.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

“THE BIBLES GO TO FIVE” came the instructive from our team leaders Ann and Robert Fuqua. One room on the floor was delegated just to store them. Dollies were loaded and a “fireman’s line” in the hallway worked feverishly to stack over one thousand New Testaments we were delivering across the region. Do you know what that many bibles in one place looks like?

The stacks reached over five feet high and at least that wide. The sight was so striking that several of the team stopped and admired the handy work of the Lord, praising Him for assigning us this task.

At the evening meeting we discussed the week ahead, committed to prayer our efforts, and thanked Him for the opportunity. Here on the fourth floor, gathered thirty-two Americans from diverse cities, different backgrounds, and various ages. We sang praises to our King, in a city eight years ago no foreigners were allowed to visit because of the aerospace industry centered there, in a land where before the fall of communism such subversive behavior led to imprisonment.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

Our leader Albert “Bud” Toole shared with the group how the first time he came to Russia, he was able to carry only a few pocket-sized bibles. He had spoken to his interpreter on spiritual matters and expressed his desire to give her one of the bibles. She was very reluctant to take it, telling of serious consequences if she was caught with religious material. They finally arranged to make the exchange in a public place, the bible wrapped in brown paper went from one hand to another’s.

He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4:26-29

In less than ten years, mission groups now have the freedom to bring bibles in to Russia by the hundreds of thousands. While the hotel staff and guests may have thought our group strange – at this point in time we were far from a unique occurrence. They see mission groups coming and going on a regular basis. Living in the West, where bibles are more likely to collect dust than breakdown strongholds it is easy to forget the power of the Word.

Those little brown paper wrapped bibles, given out by soldiers in the army of the Lord were far more powerful than any nuclear arsenal our Senate has every approved.

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Thanks be to God we participated in a harvest we did not sow, traveling through the ripe fields of Russia. Because of the faithfulness of men like Bud Toole and John Maisel (founder of East West Ministry) who answered the call to go into communist countries carrying the Word of the living God and the hope of Christ to a people living in darkness, a great harvest is being reaped in the former Soviet Union.

So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed. Acts 19:20