Friday, October 21, 2016


Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
James 5:7

Early in July I was looking out the window of the house we rent for the summer in Flin Flon.  If you’ve ever been to Flin Flon, you would know that the defining feature of the town is the very large smoke stack of the mine, that is located just outside the city.  When flying into Flin Flon you can see the tall, grey cement tower from miles away, rising high above the horizon, the blinking lights on top acting like a beacon, letting you know you’re almost home at the end of a long, summers day.  However, that day, as I looked out the window, the top of the smoke stack was nowhere to be found.  Instead, it was lost in clouds that descended halfway down the tower.

This had become a common sight over the previous few days.  A very low, overcast, cloud layer seemed to be sitting over northern Manitoba and not moving at all.  During the first two weeks of our summer, we consistently saw cloud layers from 200 to 400 feet above ground, day in and day out, bringing lots of rain.  I suppose that was a good thing, as it seemed to stymie any potential forest fires from starting, after what was a very dry spring, but what that meant for me was: No Flying.

I let out a long sigh.  Our vacation Bible Schools were in full swing and I was stuck on the ground.  I was frustrated.  I wanted to get going, to get up in the air and start getting some work accomplished, but, instead, I had to sit and wait for a better day.  “Maybe tomorrow”, I told myself.  Patience is a virtue, or so they say.

My need for patience on the ground reminded me of the need for patience in our ministry.  It can take a while to really get anywhere in reserves and it can be many years before we begin to see the fruit of the work we’re doing.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of wondering why we’re there or if we’re making any sort of difference at all.

Many times when a VBS team starts going to a new community, they may feel a little disappointed.  In those first couple of years they may not see the number of children they were hoping for and the adults in the community will usually keep their distance, but that’s why we keep going.

This year in Wunnimun Lake in Ontario, one of the team members told me a story.  For the first time, one of the teenagers in the community, someone who had been going to their VBS over the years and had become friends with the team, asked them, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” 

The team member was ecstatic, being able to share the gospel with this person and explain to them the atoning work that Jesus had done for us.  They were so happy that they were finally beginning to see the fruits of their labour and that, even though it took seven years, their trips to Wunnimun Lake each summer had not been in vain.

Ministry up north can take time as relationships are built and strengthened over years.  We need to be patient and not giving up, while trusting that God will produce fruit in His timing.  I am occasionally reminded of that on the days where I can’t see the top of that smoke stack, but trusting that God will clear the skies at the right time, just as He prepares people’s hearts.

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