We hope that with the series “The Harvesters,” you will be introduced to many different followers of Jesus who are striving to make disciples of Jesus out in the world; whether you’re in the military, a missionary, a scientist, a stay-at-home parent or anything else under the sun. Check out the full series here and may you be encouraged to do likewise in your own “fields of harvest.”
Tell us who you are and where your harvest places are
Our family of five is stationed in Fort Wainwright, Alaska where we focus on reaching military families both at home and also when Wes is deployed with the U.S. Army.
How did that come about (is there a story there?)
When Wes was going to college he was also working with a ministry that focused on mostly on infantry soldiers. He found himself waking up early to do PT (physical training) and read the Bible with the guys he was reaching out to, but not really being able to relate to and understand the things they were going through because he was not in the military. At the same time, he saw the great darkness and need among soldiers and how so many were hurting and in need of Jesus. He felt the Lord directing him to change to ROTC so that he could focus on the military mission field more directly.
What is the hardest thing about being in your harvest place?
The military lifestyle is very transient and you end up moving locations every 2 or 3 years. This means all the relationships you’ve invested in, all the friendships you’ve made, the church family you’ve created- starts over in a new place. This can be hard. But it also creates a sense of urgency to go deep with people in conversation about spiritual matters more quickly than maybe we would otherwise. It also means that we really do see that it’s really Jesus who is doing the work in people’s lives! Not us! It’s never about us. And when we move or the people we’ve helped grow in Jesus inevitably move, we must trust the Holy Spirit to continue the work He had us start.
What has surprised you the most about bringing Jesus to people in everyday places?
How willing and eager people really are to go deep and want to know more about how to follow Jesus in their every day lives, not just showing up to church on Sundays. I always thought it would be super awkward to share about Jesus with someone, but now I find it comes up in conversation easily- I just have to be looking for opportunities!
For instance, I (Tina) met my friend Abby walking to school to pick up our kids. We briefly chatted about our faith and where we went to church. I told her we did church out of our house and that definitely raised many questions for her. I invited her over to hang out ( our kids were classmates) and we talked about Jesus and the Great Commission and how we could practically apply it in our lives.
We shared our testimonies with one another and then I showed her how we could communicate them to people who do not know Christ. Later that evening, she texted me with 3-4 different ways she would share her testimony in different circumstances/audiences. She then proceeded to share the gospel with 3 of her neighbors that same week. It was incredible to see the Holy Spirit move like that in someone’s life!
What has encouraged you the most about your work (in the harvest)?
I (Tina) also have grown SO much in my own faith, having the accountability aspect that we’ve incorporated into our community, means that I have people asking me if I’ve read my Bible and if I’ve been obedient to Christ that week. I’ve been challenged like I never was before.
We have also been encouraged how the Lord provides even when things are more difficult because of our military lifestyle. For instance, when Wes deployed he was deployed with another guy from our church. They did not have to go into that environment spiritually alone but instead, could encourage each other and have a teammate in reaching their fellow soldiers with the gospel on deployment!
Do you do church in the harvest? How does that look different/the same as what we traditionally see as church today?
Yes, we definitely meet in the harvest. We are so grateful for the people who have discipled and trained us (and still do!) along the way, moving us from traditional to missional way of doing church.
We meet in our own home, with our kids until we can start inviting others to join us. Neighbors, co-workers, everyone is fair game! It also means that when husbands deploy, and situations change – we can move from house to house depending on the need of the hour.
Ultimately we feel so honored that we get to be a part of the Lord’s work so up-close and personal. For instance, we invited our neighbors over to Sunday evenings. They started showing up each week and one particular night, I watched a wife tear up as she heard her husband ( former alcoholic and unbeliever) start sharing what he was learning from Jesus through the Word, and then prayed for the first time out loud. Soon after, the husband was baptized in the Chena River. I mean, this was one of those moments that I cannot ever forget – watching, right in the living room, the effects of a transformed life only by the power of Christ!
It also helps that we’ve learned to do church in a simpler way. While on deployment Wes had church in a classified facility where no outside material (especially phones) were allowed. It really paid off to have scripture passages memorized and a simple, reproducible way of leading church already in place! I don’t think many missionaries today have that kind of opportunity!