Sunday, August 3, 2008

Harvest Fields

In less than a week the fields had changed again. From the tall and waving wheat in the sunshine last week– it now gleamed like gold in long rows lying on the ground. The swaths of wheat were rich and heavy with the gold that it contains. They had just been cut a matter of days ago – if not hours.

Timing had been everything. The sky above was cloudy and every once in a while one of them would open up with a powerful rain storm that would last for a few minutes and then it was gone. The weather man promised that in the next three days there would be bright sunshine – perfect weather for cottagers and people on vacation. And even more perfect for taking up the harvest of grain now cut into swaths.

As I stood among the swaths I thought of all the hard work over the months. The preparation of the soil, the planting of the seed and then the waiting for the first shoots to appear – all had proceeded this moment. There had been days that hail, wind, and hard rain that had pelted the wheat field. There had also been gorgeous days of sunshine that was soaked up by the wheat to let it grow to the beautiful crop that it had become.

It is truly harvest time – ripe, rich, and ready.

But as beautiful as this scene was our afternoon was not about rural beauty but rather a reunion. We were on our way to meet “our son and daughter” – Michael and Kristina Catania. Michael was on a 36 hour pass from the Teen Challenge program that he was in to spend time with his family.

Michael had entered the Teen Challenge program eight months ago as a full blown Crack Addict.
As a young man he had started his slide into “nothingness and hopelessness” with his first addictions. He had continued through his years of young adulthood. He kept it up into his married life and then even into his first years as a father. But as I came to know him just before there marriage helping them (him) during their early months of marriage and when the baby arrived – I would not know how bad the addiction was. He became a part of our church in Peterborough – he hid it fairly well from his new church friends and fellow Christians.

Once in a while Michael would simply not come to church. He would flip into his addictive mode and do multiple hits on Crack again between work weeks.

God gave Michael a lot of chances – until one night after he came home, the most horrible night I can imagine, it all blew to pieces. Michael had fought with Kristina for more money for more drugs. She wouldn’t give him anymore. He grabbed their baby Angelo and ran from the house. Suddenly he had progressed from domestic assault to possible kidnapping charges. If not these more serious charges he would be facing the “monster of CAS” (children’s aid society) and their protective mode for the child that Michael carried from the house that night. A whack of police descended on the little home in the country with dogs and their best tactical teams. Michael was a dead man – they were out to get him. It was over!

The story is long. It involved a quick move(run) from Peterborough to Calgary – where there is more money – lots of it! Michael went west to flee the oppression of those that tried to help him. Eventually Kristina went along too without her baby.

Before this turns into the more complicated story that it is… there came relief after months of waiting and wondering where they were.

Michael and Kristina came back to Ontario. Michael checked into the Teen Challenge program and made a commitment to do the full year program. Kristina went back home to live with her son.

Michael is facing his addiction face on and is finding FREEDOM.

Kristina began her college studies and shocked herself with passing marks that were often 100%. She graduates in a few weeks time – but then begins her University studies next. She has found herself and sparkles now.

Angelo is all boy – happy and healthy. He sparkles too.

As I reflect on our meeting with our “son and daughter” yesterday I come back to the harvest field along the highway. They were rich and ready – they had been transformed from the bleak and hopeless, empty fields of last winter and spring.

Michael is our Harvest field and so is Kristina.

Michael shared the details of his program at Teen Challenge. As he did he quoted scripture after scripture. The guy has become a walking theological wonder. Each day before he eats breakfast he reads at least two chapters of the Bible and his study material. Surrounding this program of disciplined spirituality are some of the greatest counselors one can ever imagine. They are doing stuff with Michael that few others could ever do – including me. They are there to walk a FREEDOM WALK with him. They are taking in the harvest now.

The harvest is great at Teen Challenge now with about 30 young men in the London Farm Program. Michael’s stories were amazing to listen to and savor. I wept for joy inside as he shared.

Part of the evening together we watched a video of that was prepared of the Teen Challenge program of 50 years of ministry. There on the screen were the images of people that I knew – stories that I was very familiar with. The story was so good to hear again – of God’s power working deeply in men and women’s lives. Stories of deliverance and freedom that thrilled me over again flashed on the screen and accounts were told. I cried again as I listened.

It was a delight to tell Michael that I had begun my Christian walk 40 years ago as I began working with Teen Challenge too. No, not as a drug addict – but as someone that stepped in to help drug addicts get to Teen Challenge and to support their program. I had been able to meet David Wilkerson, the founder, and Nicki Cruz one of the first converts under David. They had shared their testimonies at ministries I had been involved with over the years. I knew a number of the old guys in that movie.

Now the same program was helping my “son and daughter”.

If nothing else – the people that know Michael and Kristina will be shouting “GLORY” when they read these words. God is doing and will keep doing a wonderful work in this couple – over and over again.

And GUESS WHAT? It all happened because YOU PRAYED.

One of Michael’s statements last night was powerful. “I miss those people in Peterborough.”
I want to cry all over now. 10 years as a Pastor in Peterborough was worth every moment to hear “my son” speak last night! It was worth it all! It really was!
~ Murray Lincoln ~

One week ago I shot some videos of the Harvest Field… they are on YouTube now – click here to take a look.
The Harvest is Ready (this one may have a small pause – something goofy in the video… and sound added together – but hey…love it)

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