In the golden hours of late afternoon, the bright red tomatoes in my garden are big, heavy, and delicious. I relish watering and weeding my plants and watching tomatoes appear and ripen on the vine.
In the quiet of my garden, I often think about biblical references to planting and sowing. The harvest metaphor has been helpful for me in understanding how God uses World Vision to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ around the world. You might see some parallels in your own life.
Sowing seeds for the harvest
People freely choosing a lifelong commitment to Christ is an outcome — or harvest — we pray for. But much careful work goes into the preparation and planting before the reaping. We witness by life, deed, word, and sign — never putting any conditions on the aid we provide — in full confidence that the Lord is working through us for a bountiful harvest in His timing. We want fullness of life for every child, and that includes seeing those beautiful kids in heaven.
In some places, we can quantify the harvest. The countries where Christians can proclaim the gospel freely are like well-tilled, irrigated fields of rich soil where seedlings can grow by the power of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the work of local churches, missionaries, and organizations like ours over many years. In these places, World Vision supports Christian discipleship for children by helping to train and equip local ministries.
In other places we work, we may not be able to measure the harvest in the same way, but we know the fields we’ve planted, the workers we’ve equipped with tools, and the seeds sown. Each year, World Vision trains thousands of pastors, youth workers, and other Christian faith leaders around the world. Our Biblical Empowered Worldview, Channels of Hope, and Celebrating Families trainings integrate biblical values into programs that empower people to see themselves as created and loved by God, with the agency needed to address and overcome the issues that keep them in poverty.
The fruit God’s people bear
The result of this work — the hopeful future harvest — are the 3.5 million children each year since 2015 who have been reached through spiritual nurture activities that strengthen their faith and help them learn about God’s love for them.
Jesus also calls World Vision to join Him in places where gospel proclamation is restricted, and sometimes against the law. We’re privileged to serve here as perhaps the only Christians people will know. These are places where we trust God to guide His people in the sensitive work of removing stones or sprinkling water so that the planting can begin. Our staff witness through their lives and their commitment to love and serve all people, of any faith or none. We’ve seen many times that this approach provokes the question to which Jesus is the answer.
I wish that I could see the fruit of these efforts the way I delight in my tomatoes. But I trust God is working at the roots, restoring broken relationships around the world. And as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:7, “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (NIV).
As the Lord’s co-workers, we faithfully employ all our tools — our words, yes, but also our actions, how we live, and the miracles of God we celebrate — and we trust Him for a bountiful harvest at just the right time.
Edgar Sandoval Sr. is president and CEO of World Vision U.S. Follow him on Twitter at @EdgarSandovalSr.