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Cotton Fields, White Unto Harvest

To some of my readers, this might be a familiar scene; but growing up in Maine as a kid, I didn’t bicycle past any cotton fields. Although, I had traveled out west, down to Florida along the east coast, spent many a year in Michigan, and traveled to England, India, and Myanmar for mission trips, it was not until the age of 28 that I saw my first cotton fields. I received an invite to present the ministry in rural Arkansas. A printed Google Maps highlighted an 800 mile trek from my base in Saginaw, Michigan. My adventurous spirit jumped at the chance to drive through some new states and meet a new church. I was used to the rural white church tucked away in the woods in Maine as a back drop, or even the little white church amongst the cornstalks in Michigan. But in Arkansas, it was a church tucked away in the cotton fields, and although the church was not white, the harvest was. I remember whipping out my digital camera at the time and snapping a picture that I have to this day. And though Jesus’ parable was not referring to a harvest of cotton, it brought that challenge to mind. I was able to meet families like the Wrays who had grown up harvesting cotton and many others. I don’t know if the sight of the white cotton fields was a visual reminder of Jesus’ parable to that church, but the vision of missions and sowing more seeds in the harvest field of the world had been planted into their hearts. It has been a joy of ours to come back to this pocket of believers four different times since then. This time was no different. The visit many times is quicker than the time it takes to journey there, but it is always worth it.

We enjoyed a chance to visit the Widow’s Jar Ministries in Indianapolis on our way to visit family in Florida for the holidays which was huge blessing to our family. It is basically a missionary closet on steroids. We were able to get many things for our family to be able to use right now and even in Brazil. My mother was happy to have us for Christmas which she only gets once every five years. Somehow we crammed 17 people into their living room with all the presents. Soon after a camping time with family (camping can only happen during the New Years in Florida that is for sure!) on an island in some intercontinental waters, we headed back to Michigan with our stopover in Arkansas.

Calvary Baptist in Arkansas was a breathe of fresh air and a blessing to our family, but they also are very symbolic of many of the rural churches that we have visited and are going to visit as we make it to the halfway point of our furlough. Most of them are under a 100 people and although not tucked away in cotton fields, they are tucked away in some other harvest crop or a mixture of maple and fir trees. And although their congregations may not be large, their hearts are full with the visions for mission. Mrs. Wray made a comment to me as we were leaving that might be in the thoughts of many that we say goodbye to, “You won’t forget us, will you?” How can we forget the cotton fields of Arkansas, and the people whose eyes have been opened to the fields white unto harvest?

You are not forgotten,

Ben, Dani, Sabrina, Melody, and Josiah Jacobs

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