I’ve been thinking a lot about the people that God places in our lives. Back in March 2013, I wrote about growing through godly friendships and about mentoring. I still believe what I wrote and the experiences I shared. Let’s take that further into networking.
Here’s the link to the earlier article on friendships: Growing in God through spiritual friends and mentors
I was professionally in commercial radio and as a volunteer in community radio for a number of years. Radio is an industry where you advance through hard work, talent and networking. Although it’s known as a cut-throat industry (since its profit margin is not very big), it’s important to keep connections and to help each other out. You never know who will be your next employer, or what a connection may lead towards. This is the same in many businesses, and in a gentler way, it also is a component in the missionary world.
Tony and I are now in Worcester, South Africa as Iris Ministries Canada missionaries – and among lots of ministry opportunities, one of the things we are planning for is internet radio. We will be airing some of the teachings from this site, including this one, as you can tell!
But how do radio people get established? And how do missionaries get established? Is it just the people we meet through friends and friends of friends? I believe the answer is yes and no. Some of you are saying, “Just ask God.” Yes, people of faith, this is a question we do need to ask. While we plan our steps, God redirects us the way we really need to go. Listen to Proverbs 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
God often brings people into our lives so that we sharpen each other in faith (Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another). We grow through relationship if we allow others to love, encourage, and at times correct us. Yet in order for that to happen, you have to be connected with them and not alone. We are part of nets (networking) and also man the nets (networking of a different sort). Let’s walk along further with this analogy.
In July 2016, I heard Heidi Baker share many stories in the Iris Global Harvest School (in Pemba, Mozambique). One of them was a dream or an impression that she was given. As a missionary, she often sees the hidden people that ordinary people may overlook. She’s been given the eyes and heart to see them. And nets are a symbol of catching these people’s hearts, like fish in the seas. Too many either fall through the cracks in daily society, or are overlooked – whether they be latch-key kids (one of the demographics on our hearts), widows, orphans, street people, disabled, and so many more. We need nets to catch them and to be in relationship with them.
Heidi saw a net in the coming harvest (revival) and when she shared, she got really excited, because there were many, many fish. She originally assumed this net was of Iris’ impact in the present and future harvest of people.
Then the scene in her dream widened and showed that the Iris net wasn’t that big – it was actually small (despite all the work that Iris is doing). There were many, many nets – these were thrown out by churches, ministries and individuals and these were small nets and they needed more of them. When I was hearing this, I got an impression that there were lots of empty spaces not covered by nets (yet).
I personally believe that not only do we need more nets, but those nets needed to be connected. I’ve had an intermittent pastoral care sense since the 1990s where I notice people who are about to fall through the cracks. I’ve seen this in nearly every place I’ve been. It’s like people have to be intentional that they don’t fall through the nets – which happens when they get isolated from others.
I’ve seen this phenomenon in many places in the world. I’ve even fallen through the safety nets myself – not in terms of my personal faith, but in terms of pastoral care and support. But that’s where Jesus comes in to catch US when we fall through the net.
Jesus is the ultimate networker. We too are called to connect nets and work together in unity. We may have different emphases in our faith, but that doesn’t matter! What matters is our love for Jesus, and his love extended through us to love on the people. The fields are ready and waiting for us. But we must mobilize together.
John 4: 35-36 (NLT) You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
But we need more sowers and harvesters! We need more people working the nets!
Luke 10:2 (NIV) He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
So yes, this teaching is about missions, but it’s so much more. The networking principle works in every aspect of life: work (especially in radio broadcasting), missions, ministry, sales and basically everything that involves people.
Networking involves connections and relationships that have existed in the past, as well as new ones. These people may not initially know each other, but when a networker person comes along to connect these two people, good things can happen! My husband Tony recently shared with a ministry friend about a similar organization in the same Worcester township. While these groups were aware of each other, what was new was the timing that the second organization was open to just the right kind of help. Tony’s natural sharing helped to bring about a connection that our friend had been praying about for years! This was natural networking, but with a supernatural connection.
Tony has also helped connect others to get jobs at just the right time. Just think, how many of you dear people been directed to get a job through a friend of a friend? My job in the financial sector (Canadian Bankers Association in their publications and magazine), came to me through friends who were looking for a good admin temp. My last paying job was as admin and social media coordinator for Darren Canning, a Canadian prophet, author and writer. This came about through connections, and Facebook. Before that job, I was could not get a paying job for three years!
Don’t look down on the connections you have. People are like gold and precious jewels – no matter where they are in the world. This means both the people holding the nets and those who are in the nets for a time. These jewels are grafted in the Body of Christ and after being healed up and discipled, they can man nets as well (in some cases, even take up nets right away)!
Consider the circle of influence you have. It may be at your school, work, friendships and family. It may be a book club, or those you meet in business. Ask God for ways to reach them that aren’t “religious.” Networking and love are all about relationship. Our God is a relational God and wants relationship with you, and with these people. Just think, you may be the one to connect people to each other, just like Tony does. Or you may be one that connects your friend to Jesus. Trust him, and he will show you how.
But if you go out beyond your circle of friends, make sure you do not go out alone. Go with a like-minded person who also has a heart for people. Together, ask God to connect the dots, and connect the nets. This isn’t about you. It’s about working together. So we Copples feel that one of our main tasks in Worcester is to TIE THE NETS (ministries and individuals) TOGETHER. I discovered recently that a YWAM worker friend has the same heart as me – she gives her time and considerable talent to three ministries that we are also involved in, some connected with YWAM, others independent. I felt like she was a real sister, since we have the same heart that reaches out.
We don’t mind where the nets are coming from, what denomination or background. We are working to repair breaches, and sewing the nets together to reach Worcester together. We aren’t copying what each other is doing – we are learning from them, as we eventually find our ministry in the unreached areas between the nets.
Recently, I went to bed thinking about Heidi’s dream of the nets. I thought about John 21: 1-10, where Jesus directed the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – AFTER a fruitless overnight fishing session. It’s likely that they had an overlooked spot that was hidden in plain sight – just like many of the township or street people are.
I woke up with an impression that I could almost draw. As we cast the nets in the forgotten spots that Jesus shows us – we reel in hearts. We notice them. We validate them and Jesus loves on them directly and through our own hands and hearts. Our hands and hearts are part of the nets.
Jesus and the Nets John 21: 1-10
“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied. 6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[d] from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.”
Isn’t it amazing that the nets didn’t tear? I love that this is a supernatural God-thing.
So as you think of this teaching, prayerfully consider that God may put you in just the right place and time to network. We call those divine appointments or stopping for the one. This isn’t just about evangelism, although that is a component. It’s about relationship and connecting hearts – people to people, and people to the Father. May we always remember that we don’t grow in isolation, we grow and are validated in community. We grow in interdependence, not independence.
Bless you as you grow in Jesus
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