To recognize an honest seeker, I need to be honestly seeking my Savior too.


Picking berries is an art.  It's learned by experience. Not that a toddler with a bucket can't collect.  But to be a successful berry farmer, you need to know the agricultural principles that assure the strongest fruit and the harvesting practices that protect the quality of the produce nature has grown.

This issue of CALLED shares some of the principles of relating to the spiritual growth of the precious people around you, the fruits ripening in God's field.  What indicates a person is interested in knowing more about Jesus?  How can you identify the honest seeker who is ready to grow? Do you recognize "ripe?"  

The Holy Spirit promises to give you a spiritual eye to see the open hearts around you.  He is willing to develop your spiritual awareness as you search carefully and stay on task.  But you will understand your role more easily when you know the Lord of the Harvest personally, and trust that He is tending the fruit of His field.



Sometimes a simple word picture is what we need to understand heaven's principles for doing mission. While every parable has its limits, the lessons in this vision are both profound and reasonable. The insights Ellen White was given 122 years ago still apply. We don't grow the fruit, but we have the privilege of participating in the harvest.
          In a dream given me September 29, 1886, I was walking with a large company who were looking for berries. There were many young men and women in the company who were to help in gathering the fruit. We seemed to be in a city, for there was very little vacant ground; but around the city there were open fields, beautiful groves, and cultivated gardens. A large wagon laden with provisions for our company went before us. 

Soon the wagon halted, and the party scattered in every direction to look for fruit. All around the wagon were both high and low bushes bearing large, beautiful whortleberries; but the company were all looking too far away to see them. I began to gather the fruit near by, but very carefully, for fear of picking the green berries, which were so mingled with the ripe fruit that I could pick only one or two berries from a cluster.  



          Read the full account of The Berry Vision and notice the principles of gospel work that are illustrated in the dream Ellen White records.  In what way can those principles be applied to your own experience?

 The best berries are found in the nearby bushes.  Are you so pressed by trying to reach the millions in your city that you fail to notice the family in the apartment next door?

  The most productive worker stays focused on the berries.  It's easy to get distracted by the lack of resources, our own needs, each other's weaknesses, but what about the berries?

   Some berries ripen and rot if no one is available to pick them Are there seekers within your reach who have become discouraged in their search because no one was there to relate to them?  How much can God still do?

  If the field is God's, the berries are His too.  Are you tempted to claim a territory as your own?  Or to think someone else should be doing a better job in theirs? And who gets credit for the bucketfuls?

  The ready berries are worth the search.  Do you recognize an honest seeker? Do you know the best use of your energies, who to engage, how to follow the Holy Spirit's lead? Is it a lack of faith or an expression of faith to allow more time for some interests to grow?


Very.  Choice.  Fruit.
      "You must search for [ripe berries].
       True, you cannot pick them
                    by handfuls; but 
        by looking carefully
        among the green berries,
        you will find
                    very choice fruit."

                       --Ellen White in the "Berry Vision"



          What are some of the signs that would indicate a person is prepared to learn more and to grow in their understanding of truth?  What would signal to you that you’re relating to a "ripe berry?"  An experienced tentmaker shares what has helped them identify those who whose hearts are open to spiritual growth.  It doesn't mean others aren't attended to; it means those who are ready are given what will help them grow:
  • They express spiritual interest while not receiving any physical or financial benefits from you.
  • They implement small changes in their lives that they observe or hear from you, such as exercising more or taking your advice on solving marital problems.
  • They ask questions about your faith.
  • They discuss calmly and meaningfully with you about things you believe.  This is not the same as debating the differences of beliefs.
  • They invite you to their home and to social outings, and express interest in developing a relationship.
  • They introduce you to other friends and family members. Of course this may not happen if they don't want their family to know that they've befriended a Christian.
  • They admit spiritual doubts or yearnings they’ve been feeling.
  • They ask you to pray for them or invite you to share your spiritual power, to interpret a dream, to pray for healing, etc.  --JE

          In our years living here in the Middle East, we’ve learned some important lessons that have changed the way we work in God's field:

God didn't call us to make friends but disciples.  It sounds harsh and it was difficult for us to accept.  Discipleship includes friendship, but not all friendship leads to discipleship.   But if we share Jesus sensitively at the beginning, the friendship that follows will more easily find a spiritual base--and grow spiritual fruit.   John 15:14, 16

We need to look for God at work.  We will find fruit when we’re looking for what He is already doing.  This work is His initiative; we can trust He's ahead of us.  If we ask, He will open our eyes so we can see where He is busy working, and He will show us exactly where we can join Him.  John 5:17

Prayer corrects our perceptions.  When we begin thinking “there is no fruit here,” we know it's time to put ourselves more with God.  We may be disappointed by people's responses, or feel frustrated we don't see results.  But in prayer our minds connect to God's mind and we are able to see people as He sees them.  Matthew 9:36-38

Witnessing is a lifestyle.  Whether we meet a stranger once in an airplane or cross paths with a person often, we can be a constant, living witness about God's goodness and His power in our lives.  If we allow Him, He will never stop giving us opportunities to share what He has done for us!   2 Peter 1:16   --E & S


We often talk about how to build bridges: Show personal interest. Establish trust.  Invest in relationships.  Bridges are very important.  But we also need to determine if a person is ready to take steps across that bridge. 
  • Any time I’m allowed the privilege of praying with someone, that's a big step. I've learned it's just as important to follow-up that prayer with an honest inquiry of how they have seen God answering!  Their response helps me know how much they understand and how much they have embraced the prayer experience.  –BM
  • I’ve learned that a strong patron-client relationship can skew my view of someone’s openness, especially if I’m sharing money or resources with them.  It can encourage a person to “act” spiritual because they detect that it pleases me.  They learn to make me happy by appearing interested in my religion, accepting a Bible, asking for prayer, or even engaging in spiritual discussions.  –JE
  • I observe people’s eyes,   Eye contact is very important in determining where people are.  Direct eye contact communicates some level of personal honesty, vulnerability, openness, especially when I begin talking about life issues, world events, or spiritual topics.  –DS  MORE

One of the biggest hurdles to prioritizing “ripe berries” is the guilt we put on ourselves thinking we are somehow wrong to move on from those who are not ready to absorb new spiritual truths.  We want to be longsuffering.  We want to be patient.  But the whole time we're anxiously hunching over an unsprouted seed, ripe berries may be falling off and rotting nearby.  Don’t let mission guilt get you stuck in one spot, investing heavily in one person or one project.  I had to move on from a whole ministry project to a more productive "field" when I realized that the seeds I was planting would take much more time, perhaps someone else's ministry, before they would be ready to grow.  --JE



When we feel called to mission, it's only natural to measure what we're accomplishing by thanking God for those who have openly accepted Jesus. But because every stage of spiritual growth is a miracle in itself, the earliest steps a person takes towards God is evidence He is doing His part and worthy of our praise. Our part is to be present in witness, present in prayer, and present and ready to harvest what He has grown.


“If you want to pray, do it in silence.  Anyway, it’s between you and God.  I am not praying with you!”  Steven felt a sword penetrate his heart at Ahmed’s words.  They had become friends, such good friends.   MORE

Mery is five years old and in a first-grade classroom with many non-Christians. She is shy, but she has been taught she is there for Jesus. One day, as she was putting her books in her backpack to go home, she felt someone touching her on her shoulder. Lulu, one of her classmates, had something to tell her.    MORE

One Sabbath morning, as Jon told the taxi driver where he wanted to go, the driver asked why he was going to church on Saturday. Jon explained that the Sabbath was important from the Creation of the world. He even shared Jesus’ story.   MORE
4   READY 
It was Ramadan.  Elizabeth and Martin had decided to spend more time in prayer. That morning Elizabeth's prayer had been simple but desperate:  “Lord, Lord, we’ve been three years trying to share Jesus in so many different ways, but nobody seems interested.”   She knew the miracles that had brought them to work in the region.  “Confirm our call.  Give us a family.”     MORE

Sara was reading in a coffee shop, enjoying the personal time, when two women sat down in the table very close by.  One was wearing a full abaya, the other was not even scarved.  Their conversation turned to Islam.  Sara could hear every word. “The way of Islam makes God so distant!” the one in the abaya declared.   MORE

   "Wake up and look around.
The fields are already
      ripe for harvest.
The harvesters are well-rewarded,
      and the fruit they harvest is
      people brought to eternal life.
What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!"
John 4:35

CALLED  Fourth Quarter 2018
Copyright © 2018 MENA Total Employment, All rights reserved. 

"I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate My righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,..and you will be a light to guide the nations." 

Isaiah 42:6

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