“Harvest” Part 3: The Final Chapter!
Podcast Intro – (Upbeat acoustic guitar music)
Jon Steele 0:09
Hey everyone. I'm Jon Steele. And this is After IV: a podcast for InterVarsity alumni. Life after college is hard. And even a great experience with your InterVarsity chapter doesn't shield you from the challenges of transition. As we hear stories from real alumni learning how to make it in their post-InterVarsity reality, my hope is that this podcast will offer some encouragement, a few laughs and even some hope for the future. This is After IV, and these are your stories.
Hello, and welcome to After IV the podcast for InterVarsity alumni. I'm your host, Jon Steele. Hey, quick reminder, as we get started here in just a few short weeks, we are celebrating our 100th episode of After IV. Super excited for it. We're gonna have a lot of fun reminiscing about some outstanding moments from the last three years, I'm going to have a special guest with me. And we're also going to be making an exciting announcement. But there's one thing that I would really love your help with as we prep. I'd like to hear from you. What are some of your favorite moments from the podcast? I'd like to hear about favorite episodes a favorite story or maybe how After IV has helped you navigate life after graduation. So do me a favor, check the show notes and hit us up on Instagram, Facebook, or SpeakPipe. And tell us your story about After IV.
All right, as for today's episode, I am really excited but also sad to say that today we are wrapping up our multi episode conversation with harvest harvest is an InterVarsity alumna who spent the last 15 years as a missionary in China. And if you haven't heard them yet, you can check the show notes for our first two episodes. With harvest, you'll get more of the backstory on how she got to China some cool stories of God's provision for her there, along with some insights into what it was like to do missions work during the pandemic. Today, harvest shares more stories from the field stories of overt opportunities to share the gospel with crowds of people and opportunities to serve and care for those in need in a much more quiet behind the scenes setting. And as always, we're gonna get to hear some amazing advice for navigating post graduation life. So here's our final conversation with harvest. And this one's for you alumni.
And this is something I have felt through COVID and I'm seeing more and more clearly, as we're coming out of the COVID time when we're restricted in the natural like you can't go out you can't do this you can't do that. Yeah, don't you think that there is a greater freedom in the spirit realm in the supernatural with the Lord like like all the natural things in my life were gone right? And I'm just held literally held into this one room for my my daily I did my exercises, but I'm like pacing back and forth in the room. I'm doing jumping jacks, you know, but you're I'm just in this space. There's something about being a you get having a limitations put on me in the natural, but then in the supernatural with the Lord. Because we're the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Yeah, right. Right. So there is just such a freedom that is different didn't because my distractions are way lower than normal life. And I've got nowhere else to go, but here with him. And I feel like I hope in this whole COVID time, this is something that I walk away with that we walk away with that, that hey, limitations in the natural in my daily life, it's not as big of a deal as I think they are.
Jon Steele 3:39
Which is so interesting because to be able to have that perspective of when these when these other things were stripped away that there was actually something better that I got to experience because there will be times again whatever it is there will be times in my life or our life collectively where things are stripped away from me and what does it look like for me to lean in the direction of but you know what has not been stripped away and in fact gets to be amplified? If I make the space for it is communing with Jesus Yeah, man in this space and to be transformed in this place rather than just being angry about what's been taken away from me.
And I think you know, at the time I was like, Lord, are you are you preparing me for something ahead and then you know that I need to learn it in a kind of a cushy environment I'm in a Hilton Yeah, not suffering right. This is not a suffering moment. And but you know, what can I learn in this because other people are suffering, right? I want to I do not want to make light of that and, and around the world people have suffered in this COVID and people's jobs have been restricted and so their, their livelihood or their businesses, there's been, you know, it's not all like sunshine and rainbows in the Hilton Garden Inn. I mean, there is suffering that people are going through Absolutely. And And I guess I want to learn like, how to walk in that with the Lord. And there may be times to rise up and defend injustice, right? And then there are times to do that. And then there's times to relinquish our rights. Yes, in a godly sense, as unto the Lord and say, Lord, I can I'm going to be surrendered to you in this moment. How do I walk through this hard situation.
Jon Steele 5:29
It’s sort of that balance that you were that you were talking about of like, as I'm, as I'm leaving my apartment, now is not the time to have a moment. But as soon as I get off this bus, I'm going to start asking some questions. And to do that graciously at birth, like that there are those places of these things can happen together, of I can maintain appropriate decorum. But I can also ask for more information, I can be a little bold but gracious. And you know, what does it look like to walk that line? Well, all the while keeping in mind, what whether whether or not people know that I'm following Jesus, what does my what does my response say about what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus in an unprecedented or recently unprecedented time? And can I also just say whether or not you agree with the approach, that the infrastructure that was in place to pull all of that off is impressive. Oh, yeah. That is unbelievable. It's weird to me, the places where I'm, that I see something, and it makes me think like, wow, God, the way that you have created people to be able to create and do stuff is astounding. And to think that these big cities of people could mobilize in such a way that for two years, you didn't meet a single person who had COVID. Like that blows my mind, again, whether or not you agree with that setup, to be able to pull that off is amazing.
Yeah, it is amazing. And now we're in a, we're, it's a really unique time. Because now it's been totally flipped. So in December 2022, all of our COVID restrictions were lifted. 100% Wow. So we no longer had to test for COVID Every day, we no longer had restrictions on the border. And this, this was an interesting moment, to back in 2020. For me when March 2020, China closed the border. And so what that meant is for any foreigners that were outside of China couldn't get back in. And any foreigners that were functioning inside of China with like a tourist visa would have to leave. I have a work visa and a residence permit because of my work. And the I heard, like from a friend posted like the day before, at night, like China's going to close the border. And my first thought was like, Is this fake news. And I was like, There's nothing I can do about it right now. And I went to sleep. And when I woke up in the morning, it was confirmed it was true. China was going to close the border. And at the time, I had a co worker from another country. He was in Hong Kong. And so I had to call them and wake them up. And I was like, Hey, we gotta decide, are you gonna stay in Hong Kong right now? Or are you going to come into Mainland China? And this was March 2020. So we like the whole world. We weren't sure what was going on. And so we decided to have him come in. So he had this like epic journey crossing, like with everybody else making their decision in or out in or out. And I was like, take a lot of pictures. You're gonna experience history? And yeah, and he did. He made it in, and then they shut the border. And I remember that night, being like, Wow, Lord, I'm inside. You have allowed me What an honor to be inside this country right now. When many others are not going to be allowed. And you have little Oh, me. I'm here, Lord. For this moment. I'm inside. It was quite a feeling like a mixture of like honor and kind of a weightiness like responsibility that I will be your salt and your light in this nation at this time. And it's still amazing to me and and that, that I and others were have been able to remain inside this country. And so December 2022, that was all lifted. The first thing to happen, though, is that then COVID spread. So for the first time, my friends, almost all of them got sick with COVID Wow, at the same time. So now this is a new moment. Now, you know, unfortunately, it was not a serious strain of COVID. So the sicknesses weren't so deadly and you know, people recovered. But this was like a new a new ballgame for us like, hey, now how do we function as as followers of Christ to care for each other and pray for each other and not get nervous or worried but just trust the Lord in this moment, that he'll take care of us.
Jon Steele 9:48
Right now harvest as you're talking through COVID experiences or even thinking more broadly of more of your sort of ministry experiences, and you've already told a number of these so But I have a sense that maybe they haven't been exhausted. Do you have another story or two about places that you've just been like, that was 100%, the Holy Spirit moved in that person's life that they did something just totally out of character in a good way. Or like somebody that you wouldn't expect comes to Jesus or whatever it might be. Like another story or two of like, this is where this is where God just showed up for our community.
Oh, yeah. So much. I hope we all have 1000 of those stories, right? years ago, one of my really good friends invited us to her hometown for Chinese New Year, and invited several of us she had in her heart to go to her local park and have us play worship music. And so I was on the violin and another American guy, who's really fabulous guitar player, he had guitar and a bunch of us, you know, went together, lots of Chinese friends, and it was Chinese New Year. So it's really fun time and we all went to this park. And my friend started in I kind of set up and just started jamming. And as we started playing, a crowd came around us which is inevitable there. So you know, China's awesome for like drawing crowds, because they're not like, sheepish at all, like, blocking is a part of life. And China's like, it's awesome. They they're just like, what's that and they come right over, you want to see what's going on. And these two like foreigners playing music and and so there's big crowd comps, and and we're, you know, having a good time. And two of my good friends kind of walk away. And we knew in the in the distance in this park, there was a big stage. And so my friend laughed, and there was some sort of Chinese New Year's show going on in the state. And a few minutes later, my friend returned with a man with her. And I said to my, my other friend playing the guitar, I said, I think this is our audition, keep playing. And there was this man was looking at us. And then he kind of nods his head and he goes, Yeah, and my friend comes over and she says, Come on, you guys are going on the mainstage. What I saw, I looked at my friend, I said, keep playing. So he picks up his guitar, I pick up my violin, we keep playing. And we walked towards the stage and the whole crowd that had been around us, follow us is this and this. And then we get this like MTV moment because like the main guy who turned out to be the stage manager, he's walking in front of us, we're behind the crowds behind us. And then the stage manager guy starts like snapping his finger to the beat, like the stage. And, and we get to the stage and they throw us up on the stage. And we are allowed. Now there's like hundreds of people there. We're allowed to play music. So we play a worship song in English. And the MC is like, we welcome our foreign friends. They're so tall because they drink milk. My friend was like, you know, it was like hilarious moment. And then we played our song, and then we got off. And then my friend runs over and she's like, they're gonna give you five more minutes. Get back up there. So we jump back on the stage. We play some more worship music. When it was done. We got off the stage and the stage manager, people said, Can you come back in two days? And we were like, yes. And so we were so excited. But that night, we also had plans to visit my friend's grandfather who was sick, bedridden. So the friend that invited us to this city, she wanted us to go visit her grandpa. And so of course yeah, we did. So we had dinner at her parents house was Chinese New York Times with this special moment and then we all trucked off to grandpa and grandpa was bedridden. And my friend had the guitar still and I had the violin and we decided to play him some music. So we stood at the foot of this elderly man's bed. And we quietly played worship music while my friends talk to him about Christ. Wow. And he this man speaks a local dialect. So the main language in China is is Mandarin Chinese. But he also spoke his own local dialect. Okay. And so one of my friends shared the gospel with him in Mandarin. It was translated by my other friend into his local dialect, to share the gospel with him. And they asked him he couldn't really communicate too much right now he was so bedridden. But they asked him if he wanted to follow Christ. And they believed that there was an indication of Yes. And so my friend kind of went back to me. And in the meantime, my friend and I were playing music the whole time, quietly, just worshiping the Lord in this room. And my friend comes back and she says, a grandpa that wants to, you know, receive Christ and my friend and I were like, what? So we keep playing, and we got to pray with this man, and then even ask him if he wanted to be baptized. Wow. And the friends baptized him and this bedridden man and we got to pray with him and pray over him. And I left that night we went home. And I thought, Wow, Lord, You made a way for us to share with hundreds of people. But then we got to go to grandpa. Yeah, the one man in his the ending years of his life and it turns out he didn't live Too many months past that he was very ill. And it was just such a picture to me of like, yeah, you're on stage. And we did go back two days later, and we did share more and got to openly share the gospel and, and pray with people and talk to people about Christ. It was kind of this big. Wow. But even amidst the big wow, like on the stage, there was the grandpa and grandpa's family that that the Lord saw him and loved him. And because of the juxtaposition between the Wow, hundreds of people on the stage, and then the one man, it was such a picture to me of the heart of our God.
Jon Steele 15:36
Yeah. Wow. That is amazing. Yeah, I mean, that feels like exactly a series of stories right out of the gospel, right out of one of the Gospels of like, interacting with all of these people healings and casting out demons, and then Jesus, and people go to, you know, Peter's mother in law's house. And, you know, heels, Peters mother in law, like just from these epic, like, their thing, these very public things that are happening, and just as important and worth time, and like, space, like a chunk of text, and scripture that gives you this very detailed data is also Jesus going and having this interaction with this one person, as meaningful, life changing moment. So cool. To be able to see those, you know, to use your word juxtaposition of those two things right there next to each other is, wow, that's so cool. And to just be playing in the park, and then all of a sudden, you get, you get a stage to do this thing. Like, wow, that's amazing.
Yeah. And it was so cool. At the on the second day, when we went back, actually, I woke up that morning, and I had lost my voice. I know, I knew it was like, gonna be an awesome day because I cannot speak. And but we still went in my friend saying, and I and I was able to share with a translator, the gospel, and in the midst of it, and this is a city that's like a two or three hour car drive from where I normally live. Okay, we're on. So it's on the second day, we're playing all these worship songs, we're sharing the good news. And I look out and in the crowd is a couple from Canada that I know, oh, super bizarre. I know, they had been in our fellowship in in our city like I knew them, but they're Canadians. And I was like, what? And they're also looking at me going like, What is she doing? Why is she here? And so I hop off the stage and talk to them. And turns out that this couple, this, the husband, his for his business for his work, he had been coming to this particular city for years, and praying, and leading Bible study, wow, and praying for the city. And they just happen to walk by the time that we happen to be there. And I just, I knew it was the Lord for him. And for me to say like, like, okay, harvest, you're not on the stage, because you're all that in the bag of chips, like you're not on the stage, because you're something.
Jon Steele 17:58
Yeah, in fact, I'm going to take your voice away.
But the truth is, there's a couple who for years have been sowing seeds in this city and praying for the gospel to be preached, and praying for people to come to Christ and praying for this and you just happen to be the one passing by on harvest day, that gets to get up on that stage, and speak out and and bring like, we got to bring literature and things like that. And again, it kind of goes back to this like big picture like humbling thing. Like, I'm not that important in this thing. Right? Other people have been here before me doing the hard work of interceding Yes, of speaking into the lives of the people of building up the body of Christ in a place. I'm just like, coming in for a day, you're gonna sing a song. And so this is, this isn't like a wow, look at me story. This is like, wow, look at what the Lord the big picture of how the Lord's bringing people in for their right particular piece at the particular time. And it's like, it's not, this isn't about like my big woowoo ministry. I'm just like playing in the park and having to be because this couple had invested so much in this place. And that God brought it all together. And then he let us see that, like he didn't have to, like that Canadian couple didn't have to walk by at that time. And I maybe never had would have known this part of the story. But it's like that part of the story needed to be made known to me. Yeah. And to them to see like, our God is great. Yes, it is all his and for him and done by him and orchestrated by him.
Jon Steele 19:36
That's amazing. That's a great story. Thank you for choosing that story. All of these things that you've shared with us, I think is super easy for us to look at and say like sort of what you're saying is not the case. But as to look at that and say, Well, of course here's this here's this missionary in China, doing this great big work. And that that so much of it just goes right back to what we were saying before of like well What's just the next? Yes? Yeah. What's the next? Yes. And that takes you to these places of like, Okay, Lord, I'm standing on this patch of ground. What does it look like to say yes to you here and now. And sometimes that looks like really big moments of playing on stage for hundreds of people and sharing the gospel. And sometimes it looks like these very tiny moments of playing at the foot of someone's bed. And this one person in the final days, months of life, saying yes to Jesus, and that space harvest is you think about things that you've shared with us that have happened over the last few years, I wonder, for alumni who are listening to these stories, who are sort of new in their post college journey, or who are looking ahead towards I've just got a little bit of time left on campus. And then I step into this new season of life, based on the things that you've experienced. Do you have a word of advice that you or encouragement that you would give to a brand new alum, or someone who will be very soon?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think the first is kind of what I've already said, like, what is God putting in your hand to do today? I love dreaming big dreams. And like imagining and like, Oh, I'd love to go there. I'd love to do that. But But really, what is he putting in my hand to do today? And do it with all you got? Because there the faith life is a lot of like preparation time and waiting time. And we might be in a waiting time? Or it seems like a holding pattern or seems like but it's really purposeful actually, like those waiting moments and preparing moments are quite purposeful. And how can how can I be like intentional in that moment, to not just sit there and go, Well, I guess I have to wait for God. But like, look around and say, Yeah, I'm waiting. And what is God put in my hand to do today. And I'm going to do it full on 100%. I remember, before I moved overseas, spending time with kids in my neighborhood, some kids that were underprivileged kids that were living around me, and we were just hanging out and I take them to church, sometimes they come to my house, we bake cookies, and just, you know, be friends. And I remember thinking, someday I know I want to go overseas and serve the Lord. But I know that when I do that, I'm just going to be doing the same thing that I'm doing today, just in a different country. And it made like my just making cookies with the local kid. And then the neighbor kids like that much more significant to me in the cane milk, of course is significant to the Lord. But it just, it gave me a different perspective. Like, yeah, I want to, you know, in the future, move ahead with the Lord and do X, Y or Z. But But what I'm doing right now, is really significant. And so what is he put in my hand to do today? I'm going to do it full on. There was this this one year period between my time serving in Romania and my time serving in China. And I wasn't, it was a full year period that it wasn't sure what was next. And it was a time of waiting and praying and living back in my home with my parents, which is a little hard. But it was fun. We were good. roomies. And, but it's like, How long am I in this? You know? And it's one of those moments where I don't know, have you ever had this where you're in between things? And then when you make new friends? Like, what's the first questions people ask like, so what do you do? And I'd be like, I teach Sunday school, you're like, I didn't have a thing to say when I did, because I was in this weighty moment. But the more I was in that moment, the more I realized a lot of people were in that moment. And I called that year, the boring part of my testimony. And I would tell people that I'm like, I'm just in the boring part of my testimony. I'm in the part that nobody talks about, like usually, there's like the beginning of your testimony, and then the Wow, at the end of the testimony. But there's this middle part that you're getting from the first part to the second part that you have to traverse you have to go through this boring part. That's not in the missionary biographies. You know, like I was living at home and I was working at a nursing home calling bingo. You know, like, that's not the, you know, you don't really get a chapter in the book for that. But this is a lot of the life of faith. And so in those moments, saying, Okay, God, but whatever you put my hand to do here, I'm just gonna do it full on. And then the second thing I learned coming out of university when I was about to graduate, I remember clearly hearing from a staff worker get admonishing us that as we graduate and go into this into the world, look for a mentor. Look for someone that can lead you and teach you whether that's with Bible study or in professional life, but look for someone intentionally look for someone to mentor and pray for that and look for someone that you can mentor that you can bring up. And so that there's like this two way like you're on one with one hand, you're reaching up, to be lad and to grow and the other hand, you're reaching back to pull someone along that piece of advice. If I can live by it, it, it, what it leaves you with is a really dynamic life. Because you're in a place where you're, you have a way to grow and you have a growth area, but then you're also leading others. And it makes her so much color and growing on both sides, you know, like, as you're being led, and as you're leading others. And so this is this would be something as people are coming out of their, their college time, saying, okay, through my college years, I've had so many mentors, you know, I've got my IV staff worker, I've got my professors, and it's all kind of built in. But now I'm going out into the world. And now I have, I'm gonna have to intentionally look for this, maybe it's in my workplace, maybe it's in my, it's in a local, local, local church. Maybe it's an old friend, maybe it's someone, and then also intentionally look like, is there someone else that I can, you know, bring along? Maybe it's a teenager in my church, maybe it's some kids, maybe it's someone who's in college, you know, but this, I'm so grateful for that advice that I has really kind of guided my thinking. And as I look at the people around me to say, like, how do we work together? You know, I'm not just by myself out here, right? I need to receive and learn from others. And then I also have something to give.
Jon Steele 26:12
Yes, and it can feel it can feel so like, you've just been sent off on your own into the void, to sort of create a life for yourself, and to realize, like, no, there are other people out here who have gone ahead of me to do that, like, can I find them to help me walk through this? And then when can I find somebody to help like, sort of walk that walk that road as well? And, and it's in those places, that you start to develop these interesting communities of people. And you're doing this life together, that when the time comes, you are ready to say yes to Jesus together for you know, what is the thing for here, and now that we've been called to do and let's, let's do it? Well, let's do it full force. Man, harvest, this has been so much fun. Yeah, thank you for giving some time, your short amount of time that you're back home. Before you go before you go back and continue your travels, continue ministry with your community, thank you so much for giving us just a few snapshots of life and teaching us and yeah, and thank you for being an alum who is continuing to be transformed. Who wants to see the world change around them and for for being a part of that. We love our alumni. And, gosh, we're so proud of you and the work that you're doing.
Thank you so much. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness in the way that you're, you know, asking me about this life and helping me to to draw the connections and seeing, you know, how Christ is working in my life and my friend's life. So thank you, this has been really rich.
Jon Steele 27:59
Well, there you have it. Our seven-month multi-episode journey with harvest has come to a close. And we've gotten to hear some amazing moments from her story. What's interesting to me, as I think back over these episodes is the thread that weaves its way through each part, waiting and meeting Jesus in the waiting. It happened early on as harvest waited 10 years for the Lord to give her the go ahead into overseas missions work. It happened as she waited for the right apartment to open up so she could safely continue doing ministry out of her home. It happened to she went into two weeks of hotel quarantine during COVID. And it came up again and some of her parting words today. The waiting is a time of preparation, and it is purposeful. But even as you wait, God is putting something in your hand to do. What is it, go do that thing.
Alumni, the invitations that Jesus gives to us can feel very different from season to season. Sometimes it feels big and obvious and important, like being called on stage to worship and share the gospel in extremely public ways. And sometimes it feels a little more covert a little more behind the scenes like sitting at the bedside of one sick and dying person. Wherever you are right now, whether it feels like you're obviously living out your calling, or if it feels like you're in a season of waiting. God has an opportunity for you to partner with him. It doesn't have to be overseas missions work in China, it might just be knocking on your neighbor's door or having lunch with a co worker or mentoring a college student. What is it for you? Just go do that thing.
Harvest thank you so much for sharing your story with us and blessings on your next season of ministry.
Alumni come on back next week for my conversation with Dr. Emily Hill and Dr. Jeff Leo. If you've ever wondered, what is theology, and does it actually matter for my day to day life, this conversation is for you, Emily and Jeff are theologians author's podcasters and they play a pivotal role in InterVarsity theological formation department and they're going to come help us get a grasp on theology and specifically why it matters as we start this journey into life after graduation. I'm really looking forward to sharing that conversation together next week. And don't forget, we're celebrating our 100th episode in a few weeks, visit us on socials or send a message on SpeakPipe. And tell us all about your favorite moments from After IV over the last few years. Thanks for tuning in. And I will see you in the after alumni.
Podcast Outro – (Upbeat acoustic guitar music)
Hey, thanks so much for joining us today, Alumni. If there was anything that you learned, really enjoyed, or that encouraged you from today's episode, would you send us a DM or tag us in a story? We'd love to hear about it. You can find us @afterivpod on Instagram and Facebook. And if you haven't already, take just a second to unlock your phone and subscribe to the podcast. If your platform lets you, leave us a rating and a review. And if you like what we're doing here, share us with your InterVarsity or other post-graduation friends. Thanks again for listening. And I will see you in the after, Alumni.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai