Scattered In The Center
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:36
The entire Middle East and the Epicenter is weary from war. In Syria the loss of life has been astronomical, while today inside Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon the scattered are living out their lives as refugees in the worst modern-day humanitarian crisis on the planet.
Directly after Jesus was moved with compassion, He said to His disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send out workers into His plentiful harvest. The view Jesus expressed was that these tired and displaced people had no one to protect and care for them, and yet many were ready to be gathered into His fold. Among these crowds of people were a great harvest of souls needing workers to tend and bring them into the Kingdom of God.
Today, The Joshua Fund continues to labor in the fields of harvest found throughout the Middle East. We see through the eyes of Jesus the millions of people who are fatigued and have been exiled from their homes. A region gripped in the bondage of religion and rivalry of blood lines that has cost the countless lives of the innocent and helpless.
Jesus saw the broken multitudes as if they were like sheep without a shepherd. His heart was stirred because people without anyone to care and cover them will end up weary and scattered. The Joshua Fund has been called to some very special and specific ministries in the Middle East as we seek to directly come alongside the contemporary shepherds of His people and workers in His fields.
Through being sent out, our Joshua Fund teams go into the fields of the Middle East and help identify those who are caring and ministering to the hurting and lost. The harvest Jesus spoke about is truly ready and ripe to be brought into the Kingdom. In fact, the harvest fields are as ripe in the Middle East as we have ever seen them. The pastors and leaders who work these fields can, however, themselves grow completely exhausted and pressed from every side.
One of the distinct areas of ministry for The Joshua Fund has been in the care of these shepherds. As an example, we have been able to give the pastors in the Middle East a time of refreshment, retreat and rest from the front-lines of the war both physically and spiritually. These somewhat silent and secret gatherings of church leaders have brought much fruit over the last several years. We have seen these leaders return to the fields of harvest with a fresh sense of the labor before them. In a recent gathering of Middle Eastern pastors, one of them encouraged us after our time together with the following:
“We have so many groups and missionaries coming recently to our region because of the current push of persecution by the religious radicals. The church in the West has responded by sending out people to assist us in the middle of our suffering. The lives of so many are being ministered to because of the church in the USA and other places that have responded. They send in money for humanitarian aid and supplies to help the refugees and other good works.
However, I want to tell you that the pastors here notice something different about your team – you care for us and for our families personally. You are looking beyond the projects and relief outreaches – you care for us as people and have a heart to support us in our ministries. Thank you and to all who pray and give money to your work.”
The ministry of The Joshua Fund described through the heart of pastor in the Middle East.
The body of Christ in the Middle East will soon look very different. Given the seemingly endless war, suffering and massive humanitarian needs in the region, it is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of Christians, including some church leaders, have left in recent years. Though many in the church have left, the Lord is bringing in a new crop of workers, including new Believers from a religious background who are boldly sharing their faith and discipling others in the face of tremendous opposition and persecution. Thank you once again for your continued support and prayers as we labor together in the Lord’s harvest. The harvest is plentiful and ripe, the laborers in the field are few and the Lord has called us all to minister to His people. On behalf of the many pastors throughout the weary, worn and scattered fields of the Middle East they say to you “…you care for us as people and have a heart to support us in our ministries - thank you!”