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8 & 9 July 2023 (Pastoral Page) CULTIVATE . PLANT . REAP

By Ms Lilian Poon

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-8

I consider myself a pretty decent cook and good organiser, but I am clueless when it comes to plants. I have a “brown thumb” which is the opposite of a green thumb. What this means is that most green plants do not survive under my care. I have tried growing plants, from seeds to potted plants to cuttings. They would usually thrive happily for a little while, but eventually the inevitable would take place.

So I can understand how delicately difficult it is to cultivate and plant something, because planting deals not with an inanimate object but a living thing with its life cycles and needs that must be tended to. When I became acquainted with this fantastic church outreach strategy known as C.P.R., which stands for “Cultivate”, “Plant” and “Reap”, both the acronym and concept resonated with me on the importance of every life that is uniquely gifted and ordained by God.

In the coming days and weeks, I believe God will send us different people to connect with and express acts of kindness to. We will be given opportunities to be His empowered witnesses through powerful proclamation and demonstration via prayer, words of faith and tangible acts of kindness. It is a wonderful vision to see walls of hostility crumble and lives restored, when heaven is ushered down to earth as we rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7).

One of the new handles recently introduced to complement the C.P.R. strategy is A.I.R. aptly applied in the “Plant” stage. A.I.R. stands for:

Ask a question

Intentional listening

Respond with a Christian value, testimony, prayer or invitation to church

To understand the concept and practical outworking of C.P.R. and A.I.R., I would encourage every worshipper to attend the next C.P.R. training in the very near future. You can also pick up our newly minted C.P.R. 101 handbook that will provide the handles you need to be an effective witness of Christ wherever you are. Amongst other things, the handbook outlines the technique of A.I.R. to engage in spiritual conversation and five stages of spiritual receptivity that range from the lowest (hostile) to the highest (open to the gospel). These will prove helpful as we avoid the pitfalls of trying too hard or not trying at all to challenge someone to accept the Lord.

I would like to share a personal story with C.P.R. and A.I.R.. Keet and I moved into our new home at Clementi Peaks in January this year. After the shift, we had over forty cardboard boxes to spare. Rather than returning these to the movers or discarding them, we decided to “Cultivate” by offering boxes free of charge through the Clementi Peaks community Facebook. Sure enough, we received a few requests for these boxes. Mary and her husband are one of the couples whom we got to know in this process. In the days that followed, the process of cultivating continued as we exchanged messages for the collection, and an unplanned visit by the couple to our place with a delicious dessert to thank us for the boxes. We chatted briefly and arranged to visit their new home, which naturally led to the second phase “Plant”.

During our visit, we applied A.I.R. quite intentionally. It did not feel forced but on the contrary, the technique gave us good conversation starters, a life saver for an introvert like me. We started asking non-confrontational and really “chill” questions (A) pertaining to their new home’s interior design as they gave us a house tour. I loved it! During the house tour, we were introduced to Mary’s dad and his helper. That gave us the opportunity to ask deeper questions about her dad’s living arrangements with them. We found out that dad moved over to live with them after Mary’s mum passed away unexpectedly during the pandemic.

As we intentionally listened (I) to her, we could sense her grief. Since my own dad had a heart attack not long ago, I could empathize completely. Naturally I responded (R) by sharing how our church came around us with prayers and care during my dad’s hospitalization. Mary and her husband’s response was nonchalant at best, but understanding that their spiritual receptivity was not high did not deter us from further conversations. We continued to ask questions pertaining to their helper. Mary shared that her helper is due for home leave in a few months and express concerns about how her dad would be taken care of at home in the helper’s absence. Since I had engaged a part time caregiving service for my dad, it was almost a no brainer to offer her information regarding this service provider. What a timely way to meet a felt need. When God leads, He will provide. We left Mary’s house with the promise to meet again soon. I am so glad we got to make a new friend, someone whom God’s heart and hands are actively at work in.

Let me put this story on hold for now as the ending is still being written as we continue to “cultivate” and “plant”. There is so much joy and fulfilment as we go about our Father’s business. Let us pray that the Lord will show us who are the ”Marys” we can stretch the arm of God’s love and compassion to. May He grant you a “green thumb” as you “cultivate”, “plant” and “reap” in His garden and harvest of souls.

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