One sunny day in the Village of E.G. Montilla my teammates and I were just finishing up a bible study with one of our village friends we had dubbed “Mama Arlin.” She happened to mention that she was going to be planting rice in one of her fields the next day. Since planting rice has been a lifelong dream of mine (just kidding) and since we wanted to spend some more time with this lady, we asked her if she would let us come help her the next day. She hesitantly said yes after we convinced her that white people can indeed do physical labor.
Early the next morning we walked over to her house. The look of surprise on her face upon seeing that we were actually serious about helping her was definitely worth the entire experience. Before long I found myself up to my ankles in freshly tilled mud holding a bundle of rice sprouts. After a quick lesson in rice planting technique Mama Arlin scrabbled off to teach her kindergarten class and we began planting the rice.
Thirty minutes later we surveyed the ten or so pathetic rows we had planted and watched as one of the young men from the village smiled sympathetically at us and proceed to pick up a bundle of rice sprouts and to single-handedly plant an equal amount of rice in about five minutes. He had done this all of his life and he knew exactly how deep to plant the roots, how much to space the plants, and just how they would grow best.
In disgust and utter humiliation at our lack of agricultural skills we continued working for about an hour. All the while standing in muddy water which was teeming with tiny red worms which the villagers claimed were harmless… I hope they were right… Because schistosomiasis doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.
I have always been intrigued by just how many of Jesus’ parables revolved around agriculture. (The Mustard Seed, The Sower, The Workers in the Vineyard, etc.) He used simple concepts about farming to convey deep spiritual truths.
When I wadded out of that rice field, I took with me not only a very sore back but also a valuable lesson about the Kingdom of God.What He was trying to show me through this experience was this: In the same way that the Philippino boy was far better at planting rice in the Philippine soil than we Americans were, So the Philippino Christians should also be far more effective at reaching their Philippino brothers and sisters who are lost. They have grown up in the culture, they know the language, they know how to plant, water, and harvest amongst their own people far better than we do. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t go and help, and it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t learn to be just as effective, but personal experience dictates that nationals are far more naturally equipped to reach their their own countrymen.
So pray that the Lord of the Harvest would raise up Philippines to fulfill the great commission! There are still millions who have not heard the true gospel and seen someone live it out in front of them. The harvest truly is plentiful… But the workers are few… Pray that strong Philippino men and woman would be filled with the Spirit and abandon their comfort to see seeds of hope planted. There are a lot of fields that still need to be planted.