Fishermen’s tales by Keith Hazell

I love fishermen’s tales and the enthusiasm with which they are told!!
In a movie called “Grumpy Old Men” we saw the delight of two older men who only really had one pre-occupation – fish – and in particular, to catch an old and notorious fish.


Fishing for men

Bobby Walker, a great friend and preacher who has since gone to be with the Lord, loved to tell fish stories. He would take long spaces in his sermons to tell us his funny and detailed stories of fishing prowess. We would laugh and listen as he spoke in his deep Southern drawl. But Bobby never told stories without a reason. An avid soul winner, he would always relate us back to the matter of “fishing for men” and tell us the practical application if we indeed would “catch men” for the Kingdom.

I have discovered that fishing is a pastime enjoyed by both the very young and those who reach retirement age with little to occupy their time.
As a child I would go with my friends to a small pond and fish all day with our elementary equipment: a safety pin for a hook, some thread for a line, and a cork for a float. We would catch fish all day to our hearts content. One day a man appeared on the other side of the pond with every conceivable piece of fishing equipment. All day long he worked his part of the pond with every one of his various pieces of tackle…. all to no avail, while we continued to pull fish from the water. He was not happy!!

I learned later that if you were smart you did some research and located a well stocked area where the fish liked to feed. If you then went once a day for a week, putting down ground bait, then the likelihood of catching fish on the day would be even more likely.

Lately, I have given much thought to the catching of men! It seems to me that young, or new Christians, seem to catch the most fish with the least effort and most regularity. On the other hand we have the well oiled fishing machine programs that never seem to yield us anything in the way of fish but which cost a great deal of money and leave our keep net empty.

A fast dying generation

In “Grumpy Old Men” they pitted themselves against a fish that was maybe as old as they were. They would not give up, even though old themselves. I am 72 years of age and have been challenged about my own fast dying generation wondering how they can be reached? Is there anyone out there with a burden for “the old fish” I wonder?
Amongst the many people groups that are available we seem to ignore the senior citizen types! It’s almost as though they are not there at all … as the British TV show says “Waiting for God”. Sadly, most of them are not waiting to meet God in a positive sense. In some recent articles I wrote about a “different kind of Harvest” and how we needed some different and less sophisticated ways to reach them. Harvest amongst the Senior Citizen part of the field is almost non-existent. Mostly, “death bed conversions” are the only significant harvest with this portion of our population.

Recently, whilst thinking about this I happened into MacDonald’s at around 8.30 in the morning, and when I did…… I found a well stocked pool that no one seems to be fishing in. Returning over several days I realized what a good place this would be to put ground bait down. There, every morning, the same group of seniors come. As in most every other city, they assemble to simply drink coffee together and chat. Men and Women, all seniors. They are a well stocked pool that can be guaranteed to be there just about every morning. You don’t even have to pay for the ground bait!

Some of you who read this are yourselves retired or at least designated as Senior Citizens; let me invite you to go fishing! You can be responsible for reaping this neglected part of the field. What am I suggesting? Should you go into Macdonald’s with your large Bible in hand, and your music turned up loud playing the newest Hillsong cd, and offer a bible tract to all assembled? You would quickly be shown the door and warned off! No! This is not a place to throw a net but rather a place to quietly cast a line.

Remember Bobby Walker, that I mentioned before, he was an incredible soul winner, but he said one of the most valuable tools of a fisherman was patience and learning how to be quiet at the right time. Constantly returning to the same place and learning the habits of the fish was also one of the keys. Coffee in the morning is a North American addiction, and one that you could actually put to good use. The fish are there and waiting for friendship, and for you to become a part of the “morning crowd” You don’t need to have the gear of soul-winning, just your friendship and ultimately your testimony.
Bobby always told us that if you put yourself in the place where the fish were you were bound to at least catch one or two.

Remember in the scripture that Jonathan and his armour bearer made a decision to go “down into the Enemy’s camp” saying “perchance the Lord will help us!” Maybe, it is not such a fearsome thing to think of God giving us favour in MacDonald’s in the morning. A good fishing hole is something that ultimately others will find out about and make their way to, because of the prospects. On my last visit, sitting at another table were two men, drinking coffee, and quietly talking. Then softly I heard one of them humming “under his breath” a well known Christian worship song. He was not standing on the table or button-holing people, just being there and laying ground bait.
“In due course we will reap if we don’t faint (give up)” Fishing is a learned art and is encouraged, by our actually catching fish.
However, we don’t catch fish if we don’t take our rods and go to the pond! What a great excuse to go to Macdonald’s!

2 comments

  1. Keith: Delighted to find something on the internet about your ministry. Rita and I are now living in White Rock, B.C. Let’s reconnect, I would love to know how you and Nova are doing.

    Blessings

    John

  2. I was delighted to come across this website and be able to read your posts. It has been good to ‘sit’ under your ministry again. It is now over 4 years since Ray went to be with the Lord, but the church that he pioneered is flourishing, and we now have another plant in South Woodham Ferrers. If ever you and Nova are in this part of the world I would love to catch up with you again. Good to see John’s comment as well. All good memories from the past. Every Blessing to you and Nova. June.

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