Looking for workers not already busy doing something else

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
Cercasi operai

This passage which is reported in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tells us about how Jesus saw people: tired and scattered. When we are out on the road, let’s stop for a moment and look at the crowds. Can we see them as Jesus saw them?

The needs of the people around us are truly many, too many. The harvest is truly great!

There is an urgent need for workers. However, it would seem that these workers sometimes do not want to go to work in the field. God must push them and asks us to pray for this.

Below you can read two stories that are different both in terms of time and territory, but they are both extraordinary; an example of hidden workers, perhaps shy but obedient; workers capable of listening to the voice of their Master, and who are ready, available to let themselves be used in any way.

From a story told by Rosalind Goforth (England, 1900)

Famiglia Goforth

It was New Year’s Day and the cold was intense. Gionata and I had gone out for a walk, a short distance from my house. When we reached the intersection with a road, I suddenly stopped.

“Gionata I feel pushed to go in the opposite direction, towards the working-class neighbourhoods”. He looked at me surprised and we talked for a few minutes.

The working-class neighborhoods were the last imaginable place for a stroll among engaged couples.

In reality, that was the place populated by the poorest of the poor and it was the place where we had rented a room for our mission, the best place to reach the people we wanted to reach.

“Have you ever felt clearly driven to do something, so much so that you were almost forced to do it?” I said finally.

“If you feel this,” she replied, “let’s go!”

It was a silent walk. We walked down the road towards the neighborhoods for more than two kilometers, then I entered a side street.

I began to feel nervous. I hesitated for a moment, then headed towards a group of buildings, and stopped in front of a small house.

“Gionata, don’t look at me like I’m crazy, let’s ring this doorbell”.

“But why?” Jonathan replied, showing some anxiety.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

I must say that the man who lived in that house was a gruff person who was always drunk and whom I always tried to avoid when I went to visit his wife; in fact I did it during the hours when he couldn’t be at home.

Now there was no reason for that visit. We knocked anyway.

The door was opened by her husband and as soon as he saw me, he shouted through his tears: “Miss, it is God who sends you!”

The house looked like an icebox, they had no heating or food. The poor woman lay on a miserable pallet covered with almost nothing and looked as if she would die in one of her coughing fits. They told us the sad story. The woman had fallen seriously ill and her husband, in one of those rare moments of lucidity, had gone to the municipal offices to ask for help, but as it was New Year’s Day he found them closed. Returning to his wife without the last hope of help, he knelt in front of her bed and asked God to send him someone who could help them. It was at that moment that I felt overcome by that strange impulse.

The story wouldn’t be complete without the sequel.

Forty years later, while my daughter Ruth was on leave from a missionary stint, she was speaking in that Mission room. Shortly afterwards an invalid lady came in and asked to speak to Ruth. When Ruth approached her, she took a small bundle containing money and said to her: “Give this to your mother and tell her that I have never forgotten the way in which her life saved me forty years ago.”

From a story told by an Open Doors missionary (Iran, 2015)

A pastor and his wife, together with their eldest daughter, were traveling by car towards a small village behind Abadan (Iran).

The journey was quite long, so at least one stop was needed to refuel with food and petrol.

After a few hours, along the way the man finally decided to stop. He got out of the car and went away to buy something to eat, leaving the two women in the car parked in a very crowded square. On the sidewalk, among the people, there was a man standing still who seemed to be waiting for someone. He was strictly dressed to the nines and his way of dressing exactly indicated his status and religious affiliation. The women in the car had noticed.

Meanwhile, the pastor had gotten into the car with a shopping bag, and as he was about to start the car, he heard his wife say: “You know, I feel like we should talk to that man standing there on the sidewalk!”.

The husband looked at the man and, turning to her, said: “What? Don’t you see how he is dressed? He can be very dangerous! I won’t stop to talk to him.” He started the car and set off to continue the journey.

They had already traveled a couple of kilometers when he heard his wife exclaim: “Do you know, what do I think? When God asks me one day: why didn’t you stop? I will tell him to ask you!”.

At this point the husband stopped the car, made a U-turn and went back. He stopped right in front of that man, who in the meantime had been waiting… As he got out of the car he said to his wife:

“Get driving, if something happens, run away! Go away quickly!”.

Then he approached the man, who had been observing the whole scene, bowed and greeted him: “Good morning, he said, I am an evangelical pastor and I just wanted to wish you a good day!”.

The surprised man exclaimed:

“Are you an evangelical pastor? But then it is true that God answers prayers! I really want to get a Bible because I want to read it. I asked God in prayer and felt like coming here to this spot on the street and waiting. I saw it coming first, and I thought you were the man who would bring it to me. But then you left…!” he said smiling.

“Do you want a Bible to read?” the pastor asked in disbelief. “Of course! I can give it to you” he told him and hugged him.

A few days later that man converted to Christ.

Perhaps we could tell many, many other similar stories of workers loyal to their Master, however it would be very nice if the next story we tell was yours…

Send us your story and we’ll publish it here.

Roberta Ricca