Alan Jamieson, General Director of Arotahi (NZBMS), calls for a continuation of our 137-year partnership with our Bengali whānau and reflects on the command to ‘go!’ in Luke 10:1-3…

Help! We need your heart!

Not literally. But... almost. 

We need you to open your heart to the possibility of going to Bangladesh. We see enormous need and wonderful opportunity for Aotearoa New Zealand Baptists to live alongside our Bengali whānau. This is urgent, important, and hugely significant. We want to see a continuation of a partnership that has been 137 years long; we want people to consider giving a chapter of their lives to be part of a larger story unfolding. We need your prayers that competent people with a deep heart for Jesus’ gospel will hear this call and be willing to go! 

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on Luke 10:1-3 - “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”

There is so much in these three verses. So much that remains true today. It’s as if Jesus were speaking in 2023 to exactly our context and situation. What stood out for me particularly was Jesus’ call for us to pray for workers. That need is just as big now as it was 2000 years ago. This is the crucial issue. The deciding issue is not whether people are ready for the gospel – they are! But whether there are enough workers. 

This morning, I drove past thousands of acres of paddy fields. The rice has either just been harvested or is ready to be harvested. The unharvested rice plants are clear to see. But as I drove by, the number of workers was very few. In Bangladesh, Christians make up 0.31% of the population. We have been working with the church there for 138 years, forming strong friendships and deep working relationships. The local church wants us. We have open visa slots gifted from the Bangladesh government that are ready to be filled. The harvest is waiting! Please pray that God will send NZ Baptists to go and work kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) with the leaders of churches, hostels, schools, development projects, and discipleship training places in Bangladesh.

Notice, too, that Jesus is speaking to more than just the inner core (James, John and Peter) or even the twelve named disciples. Here, he is speaking to a wider audience. I wonder if there were women leaders in this group sent out by Jesus? I wonder if there was a range of ages, abilities, and giftings? Whatever the make-up of this 72, we clearly see Jesus is sending a big grouping. “Going” is not restricted to an elite few or those who have great discipleship and training. Being sent is for the ordinary, everyday followers who hear the call and say yes.

And perhaps the best part is that Jesus doesn’t send us alone. He sent people out in pairs so they always had a companion. This remains so important for encouragement, shared wisdom, accountability, safety and friendship. Apparently (according to a mission report I read recently), teams that are diverse in ethnicity, gender, family situation and age form the strongest mode of global mission. The very presence of such teams points to the truth of the gospel. I wonder if Jesus sent a zealot and a pharisee, a Samaritan and a Jew, a fisherman and a tax collector? If he did, then their relationship spoke of the gospel as much as their words and healings.

Then there is the sending – go! And the asking – for the Lord of the harvest to send more workers. And finally, the sobering sentence – “Go! I (Jesus) am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” I have to move. I have to go, leave the comfort of the known and the safe, and be where the wolves are. That is demanding, fearful stuff. It causes anxiety because I don’t really like being among wolves, and I certainly would rather go as a hunter or a lion... not a lamb. Going as a lamb speaks of vulnerability and powerlessness. I don’t think Jesus is simply talking about wild animals but instead of malicious intent through people, as well as governmental and spiritual powers. The good news is that Jesus has already gone ahead of us into every town and every place. Jesus is already at work, and wherever we are called to go – we are assured that Jesus is already there and working. I am so thankful for everyone who has heard Jesus’ call and is going now into places where Jesus is calling from.

There has been a challenge in this for me, too. The challenge is for me to hear the ‘Go!’ and to make it an everyday thing. To keep on going. To discern the personal call that this is a day-by-day going! To sense where I am being called to and where God has placed me to be a worker. But also the need to ask God to send out workers. Jesus said, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’. For me, this is a call to much more prayer. 

Photo: By Mike Crudge

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