As we drove down the road we were passing what seemed to be haphazard mounds of different bushes and trees. This, I was told, was farming on the small island of Puerto Rico. As I looked over the landscape I was seeing fields of plantains, pineapples, bananas, mango's, starfruit, and avocados. I remember being intrigued about this site, these were the fields of the farmer. The intrigue was the fact that these plants appeared to be planted in close proximity to each other. Not at all like the fields back home in Ohio. The fields that seemed to go miles in one direction and see nothing but corn on one side of the road and soybeans on the other. These farms looked nothing like that.
This was a different farmer all together. I have seen fields of nothing but strawberries for miles, but here, in this beautiful tropical location I could see the change from one crop to another every so often with a backdrop of the ocean. Then, looking in the other direction there were miles of flat land dotted with tiny homes and cities and a backdrop of picturesque A-framed mountains that rose through the center of the island. There was no doubt I was here on approval to see if I could fit into a land, a culture, to bring the love of a man named Jesus to people who have chosen to step away from his churches.
This is going to take a new form of witnessing for me, as long as I have been in the church I have been taught how to witness to the unbeliever. But this is going to be a different set of rules, this was going to take outside of the box type thinking, and understanding about why people fall away from the church. My training would be from my own back door. I know, I know, 'a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household' (Matthew 13:57.b). You can quote all the scripture you want, I know it too, and so does that person that has chosen to leave the church. You might even be surprised that they know the scriptures better than you. This is a new way of thinking, the way Jesus taught us, love.
The journey I wish to take you on is the journey of a farmer, I'm from the Midwest, but I'm not a farmer, I do understand the principles though. Jesus used a lot of teachings using the local farmer as a catalyst for his lessons. But what if we take the same teachings and apply them in a different way. Same techniques, same principals, with a different twist. Just like quite a few farms have changed their structure to Urban farming, we may need to update our witnessing from bringing the community to the church to bringing the church to the community.
So what is that going to look like? A church without bricks and mortar. A group started by two who do not first challenge the people when they first meet, but begin by building a relationship first. Filling a physical need for an individual or family. Demonstrating how you can love the unloved without passing judgement on them and their family. This is the journey I am planning to take in the next few weeks.
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:37-38