Each morning as I go for a walk I pass by these rice fields that are just down from our house. At first I didn't know if they would make it due to the lack of rain. However, when the rains did come they began to flourish. As the stalks began to grow I would watch as old men, women, or even children would stand in the middle of the rice paddies for hours. They had rocks in their hand ready to throw at any bird trying to steal the grains. Then it was time to let the paddies dry out in anticipation of cutting the stalks and removing the rice. This went on for a couple weeks. (Other farmers were happy with the continued rain since it came late this season. However, those wanting to harvest rice were hoping for sun!)
The long awaited day came and as Bill and I went for a morning walk there they were cutting down the stalks. As we returned home they had stalks around their feet and were beating bundle after bundle on a rock to remove the rice. It was quite interesting to watch them as they worked hard with very primitive means of harvesting their rice. (Notice the rock they are using to beat the ends of the stalks to remove the rice.)
I've watched for months the process of planting the seedlings. The carrying buckets of water when the rain was late in coming. The steady growth of the stalks. The patience of the people as they stood hour after hour in the fields protecting the grain from birds. The arduous task of wading through muddy water - oftentimes with snakes in it - to cut the stalks. Then the final task of beating the rice off the stalks. A much worked for and anticipated harvest!
This reminds me of our ministry as missionaries. We plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of people. We water those seeds with the Truth of the Word. We then need to be patient and protect these new believers from the lies of the Enemy. We also wait with anticipation for the day when Jesus will return and the Great Harvest will take place.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying
with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in
thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for
the harvest of the earth is ripe.