Church Farming: Planting Seeds and Praying for Fruit

farming-with-the-lisuThe kingdom of God is a living, growing thing. As soon as we join this kingdom, God instructs us to vest our full efforts in expanding it. God is not content to sit back and bemusedly watch the fight between good and evil, occasionally marking down the score. No, God is actively working His will in the world, and it’s up to us whether we will watch from the sidelines or jump into the fray.

The purpose of church planting is based on the concept that God always desires to expand His kingdom. The primary organizational structure in God’s kingdom is the church. Therefore, when people join God’s kingdom, we simply include them in the organization. Or, if there isn’t any church in their local or social group, we help them organize a new church.

The term “church planting” gives the idea of simply walking up to a plot of ground, digging a small hole, and dropping in a seed. Perhaps a better term would be “church farming”. A farmer does all he can in preparing the soil, planting on time, and watching for pests and disease. All the while, he knows that the outcome of the crop is really in God’s hand. It’s both fun and overwhelming to work on a task beyond our control.

My own calling to church planting is based on two things. Firstly, I want to be obedient to God. Secondly, I simply see church planting as the most valuable thing I can do with my time. People like you agree that church planting is important, and are making it possible for Rachel and me to be here.

We’ve been living in the Pang Klang area now for about seven months. We’ve learned a lot and still have a lot of learning to do. The Lisu religion consists of animism or spirit worship. They believe in a guardian spirit who protects their village, as well as a host of evil spirits who go around harming people. Almost every aspect of their lives is influenced by this worldview. Whether conducting weddings, funerals, farming, house construction, or raising a new-born, each is done a certain way to minimize the danger of evil spirits’ mischief.

Much of what Rachel and I do these days is learning Lisu, spending time with our Lisu friends, teaching English, holding little church services in our home, and doing the many chores like washing laundry and chopping firewood.

Several nights ago I went with our Lisu mother and our neighbor lady to visit a neighbor who is very sick. By all appearances, the man is on his death bed. Toward the end of our visit I asked if they wanted me to pray for him. He didn’t. I’m sad that this man will spend eternity in hell, when heaven was so close.

In the final act of creation, God formed the woman from Adam’s side to give to him a beautiful, creative helper in the calling He gave to them together. Satan immediately attempted to minimize and frustrate that relationship. He continues to this day with diabolic energy to destroy Adam’s helper. Chiang Mai is on one of the most significant human trafficking trade routes in southeast Asia. From the poverty of the hill tribes living in Burma, Laos, and northern Thailand, a stream of humanity passes through on its way to Bangkok and beyond.

By Craig Miller (I Witness News/Winter 2009)

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