“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’” (Matthew 9:36-38, NASB).
Have you ever gotten that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see a person in need? Most of us can clearly think of circumstances when someone or some event pulls our heartstrings to the point at which we have physical discomfort. For instance, I love my kids so much it truly hurts. The ancient Greeks coined a term for this kind of experience. They called it “splachna.” Splachna is a gritty word, having to do with one’s inward reaction to an external circumstance. The term basically means that you actually feel the pain of another. It’s that lump in your throat and that nausea when you love someone so much that it hurts. Over the years, English speakers have taken this Greek word and turned it into the words “compassion,” or “empathy.”
Jesus himself experienced “splachna,” especially when he saw enormous crowds of hurting people. Matthew tells us that the crowds looked like sheep without a shepherd, and Jesus said that they were like a field ready for harvest, but hardly anyone was willing to go out and do the necessary work to bring in the harvest. Such is our day. The more I look out over the crowds, the more desperation I see in the faces of others. We truly live in a season when there appears to be many sheep wondering around without a shepherd. Are we going to point them to the Good Shepherd?
The first step in going out into the evangelistic fields is to recognize your spalchna. Do you have a sense of empathy for others? Is it gut-wrenching for you to see people suffering in search for a Savior? If not, ask the Lord to sharpen your senses to the needs around you. The next step is simply to pray. Pray that God will motivate and send workers out into the harvest. But be careful! In praying for God to send workers, be prepared for Him to tap you on the shoulder, call your name, and send you. May WWBC be a lighthouse for the lost, a refuge for the broken-hearted, and a people forged with compassion and called into the harvest.