Hearing Christ's Heart. Matthew 9:35-10:8. Rev Anne Hibbard
Hearing Christ’s heart
MATTHEW 9:35- 10:8
Have you ever heard the heart of Christ? I’d like to start by telling the story of when I first started to hear the heart of Christ. I was part of the Uniting Church in Australia. I’d been part of it ever since it began in 1977. I went to the Lidcombe-Auburn Parish where I’d grown up and was part of a congregation that had a good youth group and quite a few leaders. Every year I went to the Annual Youth Conference at Elenora Conference Centre where all the youth leaders in the UCA gathered together every year. I never missed one in those early days. I’d also become a speech pathologist and I was working at the Polyclinic in Mt Druitt a disadvantaged area of Western Sydney.
I think it was about 1981 when I went along to the Annual Youth Conference as usual. But this one changed my life. Every time a speaker got up to speak the Holy Spirit started speaking to me. It was all the same message and it was very clear. The Lord Jesus began to ask me: “Where are the majority of youth in NSW?”. I knew the answer having worked at the Polyclinic and seen all the statistics. I answered the Lord: “In the west or south west of Sydney, in the disadvantaged areas.” I felt him gazing at me. “Where do all these leaders come from here at the Annual Youth Conference?” I slowly became aware of what the Lord was trying to tell me. I answered back: “In the North Shore of Sydney”.
He explained to me that there were many leaders in those churches but in other areas there were very few. There was something in all of this that he wanted changed. He then showed me his deep heart of compassion for all the children and youth in the disadvantaged areas of Sydney and his longing for them to hear the gospel. Then he gave me a verse. It’s our verse for today. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask therefore the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38. He then asked me to leave my home and go and live in Mt Druitt and become involved in the local Uniting Church in reaching out to young people. He also asked me to get up and tell the whole conference what I had heard from the Lord and to invite those where there were lots of leaders to do the same.
I trembled in my boots, but I obeyed the Lord because it was so strong. I got up at the conference and told everyone what I’d heard. No-one else responded, but I did. I went home and, on the Wednesday, I rang the newly formed Uniting Church at Bidwill. Pastor Keith Ward answered. I told him all that I heard from the Lord. He was amazed. He explained to me that they had recently formed a group called SOWER to call people to move from churches where there were lots of leaders to those where there were little or none. They had been given a verse from the Lord as their key verse. Would you believe, it was our verse for the day. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” I trembled again within myself, because I knew that God was real, and that Christ had truly been sharing his heart with me.
He also explained that an ecumenical kids club was starting that very Friday at Bidwill Public school, to share the gospel with the children. They were desperate for leaders. He asked if I would join them. Miraculously the management where I worked allowed me time in lieu for extra hours worked and I could go home early every Friday. I was called on the weekend and began the ministry on the Friday. God can work sometimes very fast when we hear his heart. God provided amazingly for me as I stepped out in faith. I didn’t need to look for a house. I was only at the Kid’s Club for two weeks when another of the leaders told me that a friend had a house to rent. Likewise, a couple of weeks later, another leader told me about two Christian young women that were interested in sharing the house with me.
The Lord Jesus Christ wants to share his heart with us. He had compassion on the crowds as well as for individuals. He called his disciples to first pray for workers into the harvest field, and then for them to become an answer to their own prayers. He gave them his authority to proclaim the good news and to heal and drive out demons just like he did. They were to go to their own to share the Kingdom of God in word and deed. And he told them not to take much on the journey because he would provide.
The Lord is calling us as the ACC to hear Christ’s heart. He has great compassion for the lost sheep even in our own families, neighbourhood and denomination. May he open our hearts to beat with his own and draw us to himself to receive his authority to drive out evil, heal the sick and proclaim the good news.
Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus Christ can share his heart of compassion with us for others, both for individuals and for the crowds. Lord of the Harvest, we ask that you send out workers into the harvest field, and if that means us too, we say yes Lord.
In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen.