How Do You Measure Success?

You may or may not be a football fan. Either way, I think you’ll understand what I’m trying to convey.

A fabled football coach at a major college program with a winning tradition was recently fired with three games left in the current regular season. Although the football program has been successful for decades, the team was having a dismal losing season this year.

While I was traveling on business, I was listening to fans express their views on a radio talk show. Opinions were mixed. Some die-hard team supporters were irate at the manner in which the dismissal took place. Others defended the action. The unmistakable theme of the conversation, however, was that the college’s fans were clearly divided, and the divisiveness was hurting the athletic program, especially in the recruiting war for new talent.

Apparently, more than half of the fan base was not willing to accept anything less than consistent wins. They wanted to see results.

Whether it’s on the football field, in the workplace, or at a charitable organization, people have a tendency to focus on the bottom line. They look for results. Those who supported the coach’s reluctant decision to step down were not satisfied with the results he was getting.

This seems to be true in the church as well as in the world. We are judged by our results. In fact, Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

At Harvesters, unlike the world of football, however, Jesus is in charge of the results. We are, indeed, an organization that has been abundantly blessed by God. As we self-examine ourselves at the end of another year, I’m drawn to the heroes that I observe.

I can’t think of a single Harvesters board meeting in the past 15 years when we were not reminded in some way to work faithfully as though it all depended on us, while realizing that the “fruits” of our labor all depend on Him. At Harvesters, “fruits” are souls. The men who protect the integrity of this ministry are heroes.

As a board, we operate in the full recognition and appreciation that our prayer partners and financial supporters are the backbone of this ministry and because of you God is faithfully blessing the harvest. Whether you pray or give or do both, you are heroes.

Furthermore, once again God has stretched the borders of this ministry. As Harvesters expands from Kenya and becomes involved in places like India, Sudan, Uganda, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the continued support of our long-time ministry partners becomes even more critical. A growing ministry necessitates a growing support base.

We continue to follow God’s leading as we partner with pastors and churches in far-off lands in an effort to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ into places where there is spiritual darkness and human despair. Ministering to people who are constantly battling thirst, starvation, political unrest, civil war, Christian persecution, and homelessness is one of the key reasons that the board of directors has pursued a new way to explain who we are and what we do.

The men and women who spread the Gospel under such adverse circumstances are heroes. Unless we have gone and seen with our own eyes, I’m not sure that we can really appreciate their sacrifices and devotion.

Funded by private donations made specifically for this purpose, we are developing a new identity that will be incorporated in all print, broadcast, website and video materials. The Harvesters ministry is not changing, other than growth. We are, however, trying to do a much better job of telling people what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.

All of us on the board are thankful that we have the support for a full-time director (Ed Hirshman) and a full-time administrative assistant (Sandi Roach). We are earnestly praying for support to materialize to convert one part-time position into a full-time job for a third team member (Jonathan Lancaster).

Growing our support base in the U.S. is the key to meeting specific global needs. This is the direction in which the Lord has been leading for several years.

Jonathan wrote the article, Raisin’ The Roof In Congo that appeared in the Summer 2008 newsletter. Speaking about his visit to Africa, Jonathan said the people of the DRC “are hungry for the Gospel and Hekima church is one bright light in a world of darkness.”

I was particularly struck by one statement. “The people rejoice in God’s gracious provisions,” Jonathan wrote, “and are very generous despite their own needs, giving freely beyond their own means.” Those words describe the opportunity that God has placed before all of us who are willing to become involved in an expanded Harvesters ministry.

With your help, we will see the lives of individuals and families changed for eternity. These are the “fruits” of our labor.

On behalf of all of us at Harvesters, may you and your family have a blessed holiday season as we celebrate the birth of our risen Lord.