Today’s Bible reading
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” — Matthew 9:37-38
More thoughts for meditation
We are on a spiritual pilgrimage with daring Jesus-followers who were convicted to act on today’s reading.
Franciscan missionaries accompanied Portuguese expeditions to Maderia in 1420 (pictured above), the Azores (1431), and the Cape Verde Islands (1450). Their evangelistic efforts were a complicated process, since they were all wrapped up with their government’s plans for exploitation. Plus, the Pope still had a lot of political power and held sway over what countries could explore what territories. In exchange for the rights to colonize, the Pope required the civil authorities of each territory to appoint and subsidize missionaries to propagate the faith.
On Madeira, two priests disembarked with the ship captain. One of their first acts was to lay the cornerstone for a church building dedicated to the Redeemer of the World. The record says they met “no people, no ferocious animals or biting insects.” Soon they cut down a large tree near their harbor and built the first chapel. Eventually, new settlers would begin to perfect the fine wine people still enjoy, today. Soon the church was planted all down the coast of Africa and into India by the end of the century, following exploration by Europeans of previously unknown places.
We might be more familiar with the excesses and corruption of the colonial enterprise and the often-coercive and misplaced evangelism that accompanied it. You may feel that you were colonized yourself by aggressive men! There is a lot of heartbreaking things that happened in the name of Jesus. No doubt He’s more aware of it than we are. We don’t need to let that pain go, necessarily. But we at least need to see the faith of these two intrepid, nameless Franciscans, who took the lead of Francis of Assisi and got on a boat for who knows where with hope of spreading the news about Jesus, the Redeemer of the World.
Suggestions for action
Pray: Send out laborers into your harvest.
Pray for the burned-out evangelicals who will be stung by the Bible’s call for evangelism this week. They will have trouble separating European corruption from the theme from God’s presence in the lives of many true believers over the past 700 years.
Pray for yourself and your cell. In this era, it is hard to see the harvest. The Lord’s work has been hard before. But then, as now, the Spirit is at work preparing hearts to live out faith, hope and love. Let’s find them and catalyze new life.