This post is based from a talk that Laurie-Ann shared near Robertson, Western Cape, January 28, 2018)
Tony and I attended Iris Harvest School 24 in 2016. During the time there, (Mama) Heidi shared a dream that she had recently. She saw a net in the coming harvest 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 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 North America, the UK, Pakistan and Africa. I’ve even fallen through the safety nets myself – not in terms of salvation, but in pastoral care and support. But that’s where Jesus comes in to catch US when we fall through the net. But does this take away our own responsibility for going after the one, when the 99 are in the net? NO!
I believe we are called to be net-workers, net builders, and net repairers. This is not just a task for missionaries but all people who are in Christ.
Importance of foundations
Tony and I heard Pastor Phil Dooley from Hillsong South Africa speak after we first arrived in South Africa - on our first Sunday in Cape Town. Phil talked about the importance of building foundations in relationships, not tearing them down. We thought as we are building a foundation for a new Iris Western Cape cluster, and could see this was a God moment to encourage us. Phil said, “Foundations are the most important part of the building. While we don’t see them, it is essential that this part is properly built” – with love, support, and a strong frame. These take time, just like good relationships take time.
And if we think of it, Jesus himself is our foundation – and so he needs to be in all of our ministry from the very beginning. We need our time with him in all things. Our foundation must be sturdy and built on Jesus: Matthew 7:24 (NLT)
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”
Whenever I think of this scripture, I remember a Vacation Bible School I helped with when I was a brand new believer. We sang a song called “Sandyland” with them. Here it is:
“Don't build your house on the sandy land,
Don't build it too near the shore.
It might look kind of nice but you'll have to build it twice
Oh, you'll have to build your house once more, more, more
You better build your house on a rock,
Make a good foundation on a solid spot.
Then the storms may come and go, but the Peace of God you will know.”
There’s also a popular song called “Two Sets of Jones'” by Big Tent Revival that illustrates personal faith foundations as well.
I believe that foundations don’t have to be fixed and immoveable – they can be flexible – since we aren’t a building – we move around. Imagine a bendable kind of foundation. This foundation is a connection of cords of love, like what is shown in Ecclesiastes 4:12:
"By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped."
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (Message)
Tony and I had this scripture read at our wedding, and it symbolized that we were inviting Jesus to be woven into the core of our marriage to each other. We were to be infused with his strength and love far more than just a third friend. It makes for more than a strong cord – but one that is living!
But this kind of connection isn’t just for marriage! It can be for any relationship that the Lord would use. It’s about family. Whether they are part of our church family, Iris family, ministry family or the people who come to faith right before our eyes.
So when Tony and I came to Worcester, we began networking right away. We are thankful for the huge head start we got through YWAM and existing ministries in Worcester. We saw empty spots, which we will fill for a time. (We trust that our own unique ministry will come out of this in an area not covered by all the ministries we are encountering).
In the past, I have had various impressions on starting a kids club with art and radio. I’m not sure how this will happen, since we can’t duplicate what’s going on in Robertson or Vinkrivier. But what will come will be unique and needed for Worcester.
So we Copples feel that one of our main tasks in Worcester is to TIE THE NETS TOGETHER. I discovered last week that a YWAM worker named Soraya has the same heart – she’s involved in at least three ministries, 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.
With each ministry, we’ve noted that these workers are family –cousins in outlook, but brothers and sisters in Christ. One phrase of Papa Johan has continually stayed with me since our Harvest School Outreach in 2016. It was “it’s all about family.” And while there never is a perfect family – I am led to choose to see each of these workers, and those we reach as family.
Here’s another impression I’ve recently received. The nets aren’t just ropes, or three-fold cords – they are hands and hearts. The nets are living. They are our hands; our hearts – and they are especially Jesus’ heart.
Two nights ago, I went to bed thinking about the nets, which I knew would be a foundation of this message. It wasn’t just about Jesus’ direction of casting the nets on the other side of the boat – the likely overlooked spot that seems to be 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 NLT)
“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.
Impression: Hearts in the net becoming living stones
Then I also had an impression of our hearts also being like living stones and I was led to read 2 Peter 2:5 (Passion Translation):
5 Come and be his “living stones” who are continually being assembled into a sanctuary for God. For now you serve as holy priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices that he readily accepts through Jesus Christ.”
I almost could imagine these shiny living stones connecting together into a form of protection of the vulnerable – a wall – but not a dividing wall. It showed unity and a purpose of working together in love. But what I love about the idea of us being shiny stones, is that they are noticeable by everyone. They grab people’s attention; especially for those searching for something beyond just trying to get their next meal. May we shine beyond their circumstances and our own!
Here's something to think about:
So when we think of our challenge of building nets – are they strong enough? Are they full of love? Can we connect the nets in some way in prayer and divine connections? How can we repair the nets we have? Is it a heart issue or more?
I hope you were blessed by this message. We had quite a discussion after I shared this! We will be working on our next email update within a week or so. We've been in catch-up mode with lots of things going on!