As we head into the most critical weeks in college ministry – the first few weeks of the fall – this is great to read and discuss with your team.
We all have a vague awareness that Harvest Time is a critical period in farming. But what exactly does it entail?
Here are two snapshots of the importance and urgency of harvest season in modern farming communities:
We can’t harvest when it’s still dewy and moist outside, because wet crops clog the equipment, so our day usually begins around 8 or 8:30 in the morning.
We take that time to fuel up the trucks and harvest equipment, making sure everything is in the right place. Once we start each day, we work as long as we can.
Most days, that means people are in combines and trucks until as late as midnight. We keep a healthy stock of energy drinks on hand to help keep our team motivated and alert.
During harvest, we have come to expect the unexpected. We are running combines with thousands of moving parts. Breakdowns and replacements are expected. And even though we expect them to happen, they can sometimes be a big deal.
Harvest is a special time of year for us. It’s our main project where we get to see all the work we did up to that point. We also get our one paycheck, so it’s a really big deal.
What parallels do you see to college ministry?
It seems like farmers are in a race to get harvest finished. You might hear about farmers working from dawn until well after sunset – sometimes working 18 hour days or longer – to get their crops harvested. Why does harvest happen so fast?
Everything sort of shuts down in rural America during harvest season. [There’s still counties in America that call off school for the weeks of harvest – in one county in Maine, schools are closed Sept. 21 until Oct. 10.]
But what’s the big rush? THE CROPS ARE READY
Farmers wait until their crops reach a certain stage of dryness to harvest them. This means that moisture content inside the corn kernel or soybean (or any other crop like wheat, canola, or sunflowers) has to be just right – low enough, but not too low. Farmers are watching and waiting for these plants to be dry enough before they harvest them.
If soybean plants get too dry, there can be big problems. The bean pods can open and the soybeans will fall out onto the ground. Have you ever tried to pick popcorn kernels out of your carpet? That’s what it’s like when soybeans fall onto the ground… except the soybeans are well-camouflaged against the dirt. Which means that they are lost. If the pods do stay closed, the beans can get so dry that they shatter into tiny pieces when they are harvested. Those pieces are lost, as well.
Farmers have a very small window when they can harvest their crops. When the plants say they are ready and the weather is cooperating, it’s time to go, no matter what else is going on.
Again- What similarities do you see to the first weeks of the fall in college ministry?
Paul Worcester sums it up well in his 2014 article on CampusMinistryToday.org:
Every year countless new students flood onto college campuses. Proverbs 10:5 says,“A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during the harvest is a disgrace.” College ministry has very clear seasons; the beginning of each semester is harvest time. It’s not time to work on your support raising. It’s not time to catch up on your reading. Eternity is hanging in the balance. It’s not time to find a balance in your schedule. There’s a field of new students waiting to be harvested. Will you harvest them? Or will you sleep through it?