The Little Red Hen And The Bread Of Heaven
By Carol Lee
“For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.“
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
“The Head being quickened, the members are also quickened with Him. Where the Head is, there the members must be…We are already seated there in Him as our Head; and hereafter shall be seated by Him, as the Bestower of our bliss…so we must follow the ascended Saviour with the wings of our meditations and the chariots of our affections. Of ourselves we can no more ascend than a bar of iron lift itself up’ from the earth. But the love of Christ is a powerful magnet to draw us up. The design of the Gospel is not merely to give rules, but mainly to supply motives to holiness.” [and the power to overcome the flesh and prioritize that which is eternal. —addition mine]
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (Commentary)
“Story time?!! What?!! Carol, you just quoted “heavenly minded” scripture and now you’re wanting to tell a children’s story? What are you thinking?“
Well…hear me out.
Remember that story about the Little Red Hen?
“Once upon a time, Little Red Hen lived on a farm with a dog, a pig and a cow. Little Red Hen worked hard every day to grow plants in her garden. The dog, the pig, and the cow did nothing but sleep all day in the warm sun and watch Little Red Hen work in her garden. One day, Little Red Hen found a grain of wheat. “Who will help me plant this wheat so that we can eat fresh bread?” she said. “Not I,” said the dog. “Not I,” said the pig. “Not I,” said the cow. “I will plant it myself then,” said Little Red Hen, and she planted the grain of wheat. Little Red Hen took good care of her wheat, but the dog, the pig and the cow said they were too tired to help. By the end of the summer, the wheat grew very tall. It was time to cut the wheat and take it to the mill. “Who will help me cut the wheat and take it to the mill so that we can have fresh bread?” “Not I,” said the dog. “Not I,” said the pig. “Not I,” said the cow. “Well then, I will take it to the mill myself,” said Little Red Hen, and she cut the wheat and set off for the mill. After the miller made wheat into soft flour, she came back to the farm and asked, “Who will help me bake the bread?” “Not I,” said the dog. “Not I,” said the pig. “Not I,” said the cow. “Well then, I will bake the bread myself.” And she did just that! When the bread was done, she asked, “Who will help me eat the bread?” “I will”, said the dog. “I will”, said the pig. “I will”, said the cow. “No, you will not,” said Little Red Hen. “You did not help me plant the grain, and you did not help me care for it. You did not help me cut it and take it to the mill. You did not even help me make the bread. I will eat it myself.” And she did.“
Putting aside all the obvious applications, let me wax hermeneutical for a moment and ask some questions of this story. Why, even though the Little Red Hen urged the dog, pig and cow to look forward to the reward of eating bread at the end, were they not moved to action? Were they just that lazy? Short-sighted? Deceived? Were they so used to being given their daily “bread” that they couldn’t imagine having to work for it? What was so different about the Hen that she worked hard and enjoyed the bread? Was the Hen self-righteous and hard-hearted for refusing to share bread she had worked hard to make? Were all her efforts just for self-satisfaction? Should she have made a greater effort to persuade the dog, pig and cow? And what does this have to do with us, anyway?
I was reminded of this children’s story when Jacob and I were discussing the documented disparity in the commitment of the western Church (both in human and financial resources) to local needs VS getting the good news “on time” to those whose eternity will depend upon it–to the many unreached people groups.
“ROUGHLY THIRTY-TIMES AS MANY MISSIONARIES GO TO REACHED PEOPLE GROUPS TO WORK WITH CHRISTIANS, AS GO TO UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS. FAR LESS GO TO THE FRONTIER PEOPLE GROUPS, WHERE THERE ARE AS YET NO BELIEVERS.”
– R.W. LEWIS
We had just listened to a podcast which featured a missionary to Papua New Guinea. He described a tribe/village (which took 3 days to hike to) that was BEGGING for missionaries to be sent to them so the inhabitants could hear the life and community-changing gospel stories which they had heard other villages had already received. The village chief called the visitors into the meeting house (usually restricted to the village men) and persistently asked them when they were going to send a missionary to THEIR village. Even after many attempts to answer graciously a question which could not be given a definitive answer, a visiting missionary was pressed upon by the chief. Finally, to bring some resolution, the interpreter, an indigenous man from another tribe, stood up and said, “You will get a missionary after all the old people in your tribe have been buried–that’s when you will get one, because that’s when we got ours!” We both felt the gut-punch of that response. This disparity ought not to exist, right?! Western churches swimming in Gospel goodness while remote and unreached peoples are parched and begging for a DROP of grace?
This brings me back to the story of The Little Red Hen. Each of us must find ourselves in the characters of this story. Perhaps, at some time, we have been that visionary, busy-at-work Little Red Hen–able to see well enough the “bread” that is worth the sacrifice of foregoing present comforts. At other times, we have been the dog, pig and cow, contentedly warming ourselves in the sun of “our best life now,” unable to envision something which is incomparably greater in its weight of glory and goodness: the eternally satisfying “Bread of Heaven.” My hope is that, in this newsletter, I will be more effective than the Little Red Hen in convincing the “listeners” to forsake present comforts in order to pursue, with eyes of faith and hearts of flesh, a reward that is infinitely and disproportionately superior to the sacrifice and, most definitely better than a fresh loaf of bread, however delicious that may be.
This story is very much about us, the church in developed countries, with resources abounding (both human and physical/financial) and well-suited to the Great Commission but mismatched in vision and passion and commitment to reach the ones who still wait to enjoy the same feast of grace we have received. Here are some “stepping-on-our-toes” statistics taken from http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats :
WHAT CHRISTIANS EARN:
- Annual Income of all Church Members: $42 trillion. 
- (Annual income of Evangelical Christians is approximately $7 trillion.)
WHAT PEOPLE GIVE:
- Given to any Christian causes: $700 billion. 
- “Americans have recently spent more money buying Halloween costumes for their pets than the amount given to reach the unreached.
- That’s also how much we spend in America on Christmas.
- Given to Missions: $45 billion
- That’s only 6.4% of the money given to Christian causes of any kind (2015).  *5.6% reported in 2010, GAC 
- That’s also how much we spend in America on dieting programs.
- Embezzled: If you are doing the math and realize there is $50 billion missing, this is where it went. 
HOW CHRISTIAN GIVING IS USED.
- Pastoral ministries of local churches (mostly in Christian nations): $677 billion (96.8%) 
- “Home Missions” in same Christian nations: $20.3 billion (2.9%) 
- Going to Unevangelized Non-Christian world: $2.1 billion (.3%)  *This is different than “Unreached”
- Money that goes toward Unreached Peoples: *Estimated $450 million 
-  *In 2001 only 1% of giving to “Missions” went to unreached – if that trend holds true today it would be $450 million. The estimated $450 million going toward UPG’s is only .001% of the $42 trillion Income of Christians. For every $100,000 that Christians make, they give $1 to the unreached.
- Evangelical Christians could provide all of the funds needed to plant a church in each of the 6,900 unreached people groups with only 0.03% of their income.
- The Church has roughly 3,000 times the financial resources and 9,000 times the manpower needed to finish the Great Commission.
- If every evangelical gave 10% of their income to missions we could easily support 2 million new missionaries.
My sincere, urgent and humble prayer is that we who have been entrusted with so great a salvation will NOT respond with a worldly sorrow which produces death, but with a godly sorrow that produces repentance and salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Let the discomfort of hard facts do its good work of awakening us from our slumber in the sun to actions which produce everlasting life as we fulfill the commission we were given by Jesus who bought for us ,with His blood, the right to be seated with Him in the heavenlies. After all, it’s not just bread we are busy making, but it’s the privilege of introducing the world to the Bread of Life (John 6:35) Who not only feeds us for a day, but gives us life forevermore. Let us commit ourselves and every resource which God has entrusted to us to accomplish, with great vigor, that which is most precious to His heart, that which gave Jesus the joy for which He endured the cross—the bringing of many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10-13):
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.“
So, how do we do a little less “sun-basking” and a little more bread-making? How do we develop a global, every-tribe-tongue-nation-people focus? The scripture at the top of the page (from Colossians) urges us to SET our hearts and minds on things above. “[W]e must follow the ascended Savior with the wings of our meditations and the chariots of our affections” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). Where our treasure is there will our heart be also (Luke 12:34). We have been lulled into complacent slumber because, generally speaking, we have it so good. We are happy with our current heaven and cannot fathom that some of what we are investing in now is not worthy of what is to come. This is one reason why persecution and hardship produce such growth in the church. They strip away the illusion that this world is heaven so we can be awakened to our true home in heaven. (In Ma’di: ” ‘Baru amadri loso rii ‘bu ‘a.” =”Our good home is heaven“). Suffering makes us keenly aware that this world is broken. It jolts our senses. Suffering commands us to be dissatisfied with this world and to realign our sight and affections to heaven where Christ is seated. Knowing that this world is temporary and that souls are eternal MUST change our priorities, the focus of our energy and use of our resources. Just as, during WWII, every resource was re-purposed to fill wartime demands, so, also, we must consider how our earthly resources can be purposefully channeled into Christ’s Kingdom building efforts. This requires course-correction. This requires new sight, new priorities, new affections. This requires us to wake up from our slumber in the sun.
Below are listed some things that Christians can do to realign their sights and affections to “make the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Research these mission boards and consider if the Lord is calling you to take the unconventional step of serving in hard places.
- Joshua Project
- The Traveling Team
- Reaching and Teaching International
- IMB (International Mission Board)
- Radius International
- World Hope Ministries International
Read books which will fulfill 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.“
- David Platt: Radical & Something Needs To Change
- John Piper and David Mathis: Finish The Mission & Let the Nations Be Glad
- Clint Archer: Holding the Rope:Short Term Missions Long Term Gain
- J.D. Payne: To the Edge & Apostolic Church Planting: Birthing New Churches from New Believers
- Andy Johnson: Missions
- Missionary Biographies and Autobiographies (Adoniram Judson, John Patton, Hudson Taylor, Elisabeth Elliot, Lottie Moon, William Carey,Amy Carmichael, to name just a few!)
- Operation World Reference Book and Prayer Guide for learning about and praying for unreached people groups.
Find out which missionaries and church-planting organizations your local church is supporting and become more personally involved in the care and support of those missionaries. Consider joining them.
Jacob and I, under the organization of Reaching Africa’s Unreached (RAU) are sent out by our home fellowship, Lifegate Church. We welcome teaching and ministry teams from local churches (with whom we have developed a relationship) to assist in training local church leaders who will faithfully train others. Our focus is to reach physically unreached “places” with the Gospel (e.g. Metu Mountains) as well as unreached “people groups” such as the Aringa Tribe in Yumbe District which is ~95% Muslim (Yumbe town, 98%). More recently, we have been privileged to partner with men from the Republic of Sudan who are Muslim-Background-Believers (MBB) who trusted the saving work of Christ, fled their country due to civil and political unrest and now want to return to bring this saving Good News to their tribes (some of which are 99.9% Muslim). Our part has been to train them Biblically and support them with resources so that the foundation they build on is Christ and salvation by faith alone through grace alone and so that the cause of Christ can be multiplied exponentially by teaching faithful people who, in turn, can teach others to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
We have added Agricultural training to our ministry palette because, wherever these men and their families are ministering (in mostly agrarian societies and economies), we want them to have the means to support their families through farming as a business–either as a supplementary or primary means of income.
Our recent ministry events are the fleshing out of these priorities.
Shortly before the High Pointe team retreat, we hosted 3 men here (Joshua Abraham, Absalah Kori, and Salah Hamed) overnight so that Jacob and they could strategize a visit into areas of the Republic of (North) Sudan for much lacking gospel work. They even discussed the logistics of Jacob being able to go with these men to see for himself and to be able report the conditions and opportunities accurately. Unfortunately, it became clear that the trip (for Jacob) most likely would not be possible this year, but there is great hope for something next year. Still, we were able to send these precious brothers in the Lord on their way with key resources for their work of discipling in areas where the Gospel has made the least in-roads. Just recently, Jacob also had the opportunity to touch base with another young man who has been pouring time and energy into evangelizing and discipling in the Nuba Mountain regions. He came with a well-thought-out plan for reaching many unreached tribes in his country. This is exciting because the church abroad can partner with these men who are reaching unreached people groups–and they already know the language and culture–because its their own! Just the other day, we received a visit from two men, one of whom is a chaplain in the South Sudanese army and another from the Nuba Mountains. They are using all their means to reach those in his sphere of influence with the Gospel. Their first language is Arabic and so Jacob was thrilled to be able to provide them with some Arabic literature and an Arabic Study Bibles. Because of such men, the Gospel has a far greater reach than what we, as individuals, could ever have.
On August 26th, Addison Lawrence and Scott Cope (from High Point Baptist Church) and Peter Brock (with Reaching & Teaching International) arrived to teach Modules 6 & 7 to Pastors/leaders from the Metu Mountain churches, Moyo District, Obongi,Yumbe, and Koboko. This is our first track of leaders to go through the 9 module Reaching and Teaching curriculum. There was no “down time” as the retreat started the very next day (Tuesday) and, being a back-to-back, 2-module retreat, went until the following Wednesday. A lonnnggg haul, but with maximum “bang for the buck“!!
All three of the visiting team taught through what was a rigorous schedule of morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Module 6 & 7 covered topics of Missions and Church Planting, Homiletics and Storying and other issues of heart and mission. Scott’s youthful exuberance and engagement with the men was refreshing (that exuberance also extended to a few between-session football [soccer] games and night out in Moyo town for a televised Arsenal game). Addison’s caring, pastoral heart and commitment to keep everyone on task and focused on vital matters was a great blessing to the men. Peter, with his humble and gentle nature, honed in on the heart issues of R & T’s “Hearts, Heads & Hands” curriculum.”
Jacob and I eagerly looked forward to afternoon “tea and crumpets” (or coffee and apple crisp) with Addison and Peter and Scott (when the schedule would allow). We were both so encouraged and strengthened by our interactions and vigorous discussions of many topics relating to ministry and mission in addition to home and family life. The end of the retreat came quickly and the abrupt silence in the wake of the departure of leaders and our team was deeply felt.
As the Pastors and leaders in the Metu Mountains, Moyo, Obongi, Yumbe, Koboko,Sudan and South Sudan work faithfully to guard the deposit of truth they have received, we also want to strengthen them in one of their most challenging life-problems: providing adequately for their families. Most congregations in these regions cannot support a full-time pastor. EVERYONE is struggling to make ends meet. Agricultural and agri-business training helps leaders develop skills and a mindset which can push them ahead financially to meet the needs of their families.
Emma, our Principal Agricultural Extension Officer, offers training during retreats for “Farming as a Business“. In addition, He continues to offer extension services via the RAU weekly Ag radio program (modeled after the American “Lawn and Garden” broadcasts) which reaches even beyond the pastors that were initially and primarily the target of Ag training. This coming Thursday, Emma has invited 13 farmers from the community to join him on the radio program to share there successes and struggles in their fields. We look for that to be especially inspiring to hopeful farmers. Our demo farm is continuing to be cultivated. Emma is always on the lookout for new crops that can be tested for their usefulness in providing nutritional and food security and improved socioeconomic conditions. Some of the latest crops are: sugarcane, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini and butternut squash and marigolds (for pest control and pollination). There are always new varieties of vegetables, grains and legumes.
In the last couple of weeks, RAU has hosted 2 groups of leaders in the area of livelihood. The first group of 106 farmers were brought by World Vision to visit the demo farm. Each farmer is the leader of a group of 25 farmers. The training and exposure they received potentially benefited 2,650 people (both from South Sudanese refugees and the host population). The very next day we received a smaller group from an NGO called, “ZOA,” a Dutch sponsored livelihood organization. Three of their team represented 750 farmers each, totaling 2,250 people. You can see the potential reach of this if the 2 Timothy 2:2 principal of training trainers is used. We long to see the West Nile region (and beyond) transformed by renewed inspiration and vision, new technology and information.
A couple of Sundays ago, Jacob took Pastor Henry with him to Yumbe where they met up with Onduga Charles, a faithful brother and friend. Charles oversees the youth activities in his church. Jacob reports that these youth are “ON FIRE” and effectively involved in outreach in their community as well as surrounding ones. Before the evening program of outreach in an outlying town market, Jacob met with a Sheikh in town in a one-on-one meeting at his home. He had hoped to have more time with his friend before the evening open air program, but vehicle trouble prevented him from leaving Moyo in a timely way. At any rate, they had a good visit. The Sheikh expressed great thanks to Jacob for the Arabic Study Bible (which was sitting right next to the Qur’an on the table) and the other resources. They hope to have another meeting where, Jacob says, the Sheikh has many questions for him. The open air program went very well. The youth had been visiting that market center for several days in advance and that may have had something to do with the amazing response of the crowd to Jacob’s message from John. Fifty people came forward openly profess their desire to follow Christ. Please pray that leaders, sound in the faith and grounded in the word, would be raised up for places like this where there is currently no good place for them to plug in as new believers for discipleship. Please pray as Jacob and Charles head to another location on October 11th.
At the invitation of Jeannette de Groot, my Dutch friend, I had the privilege of sharing with the Mothers’ Union in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement how to care for one’s back to prevent injury. It took some creativity to work with what was available to make some visual aids and to see how the teaching could be maximally practical for them. It’s not surprising that many women suffer from back and neck pain when you see the burdens that they carry every day. I pray that something–anything–I taught will benefit their lives to relieve some pain or burden.
Whether the story of The Little Red Hen points us toward hard work and the reward of worldly goods and pleasures or, allegorically, to our labor for the “absolutely incomparable weight of glory,” both pursuits, to be successful in transforming our actions, require intentional, captivating, delighted anticipation of what is to come. May this perspective from Charles Spurgeon clinch this message in a way that will transform us from sunbathers to bread-makers with a healthy appetite for the true Bread of Heaven.
“It is the time of our life, the space of our opportunity, the little while we shall be upon the present stage of action that is short! It is narrow and contracted, as the original implies. Brief is the season we have allotted to us, brothers and sisters, in which we can serve the Lord our God. If you knew the sterling worth of time, you would shrink from the smallest waste of so precious a thing! It ought to fire us with zeal for immediate action. The sun hastens on, the sands run down. “Now is the accepted time.” Let those who love the Lord be prompt. The time to do the deeds that you must do, or leave them undone, flies swiftly past. Let this also admonish us, brothers and sisters, to singleness of purpose. We must have only one aim. My soul, bend yourself down, and lay yourself out for the glory of God! Be this the one aim of your entire being! Form your friendships, and order your occupations so as to fulfill this first and highest duty of life. Be it your one sole motive to live for His honor, and, if necessary, even to die to promote His renown among the sons of men! “Present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Attune your souls to the great Hallelujah—“While I live will I bless the Lord. I will sing praises unto my God while I have my being. If Christ has bought you with His blood, and redeemed you from this present evil world, He has a claim on you as His servant, and it is at your peril that you take up with any pursuits that are inconsistent with a full surrender of yourself to Him! You belong to Him, so live wholly to Him!“
“Time is short. Eternity is long. It is only reasonable that this short life be lived in the light of eternity.“
Charles H. Spurgeon
Thank you to the MANY who through prayer, financial partnership, encouragement, physical presence and loving gifts are very much a part of RAU. We could not do what we do without your action. We are, as we have often said, a conduit of the grace of God flowing through you to the precious ones He means to bless and strengthen and equip for great and mighty things.
Pray for safety and strength and endurance and health. Pray the fruit that lasts would be produced in our lives and in the lives of those we love and serve.
Thank you and God Bless you,
Carol (Jacob) Lee
The greatest evil is having the gospel and not doing everything within our power to get it to those who do not have it!———–When at least 35% of the world, “the unoccupied fields”, have no access to the gospel, we (believers) must all do all we can to reach them. We who are saved owe the gospel to every lost person, most especially the 2.4 billion who will not hear unless someone breaks into their “unoccupied field” with no thought of their own life!—————-Sowing seeds of love and kindness should not be separated from preaching the gospel of sovereign grace but completely intertwined with it!—————-I am sure that none of us will say when in heaven that we prayed too much, we sacrificed too much, proclaimed the gospel too much, and were too passionate to get the gospel to those who have little to no access to this gospel of grace. Let us together press on to make it our ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named!—————Our goal in our gospel witness is to take our eyes off the “risk” and place them on the cause for the risk. When God compels us like this he often will not tell us the risks…after all there are no risks for the all-knowing, all-powerful God. So let us be AMBITIOUS (Romans 15:20) to see that ALL are reached with the gospel of grace (Romans 1:16) in ALL places…there are no closed doors to the gospel, just some which are more difficult to go through!Jacob Lee