Commercial fishing (part 2)



As I investigated the Scriptures on the subject of commercial fishing in the Gospels, several things became apparent.  There are several passages that talk about fishing:

  • Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-19  Jesus calls the four disciples who are fishermen and tells them he will make them fishers of men.
  • Luke 5:1-11  Jesus tells the disciples who had fished all night but caught nothing to put down their nets again into the deep and they catch two boatloads of fish
  • John 21:3-11  After Jesus' resurrection, seven of the disciples go fishing.  Again Jesus tells them where to cast their nets and they catch 153 large fish
  • Matthew 17: 24-27  Peter uses a rod and line to catch a fish that has money for the temple tax in its mouth.

There is obviously more than one way the disciples are fishing.  In the Luke example, they were in a boat and let down their nets.  In the John example, they throw out their nets.  In the Matthew and Mark examples they were fishing from the shore.  Further investigation reveals that although in English the word net is used in every example, in the Greek, different words are used signifying different types of nets.  For example, in the Matthew and Mark examples a specific purse net is described.

Commercial fisherman (which is what the disciples were) would have understood that you use different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and the kind of fish you want to catch.

So in terms of the harvest where we are fishers of men, there may be different ways that we approach  "catching fish."  What may work in other nations may not be best here in the West

There is one more passage.  This comes in Matthew 13 where Jesus tells a parable.  The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net (literally a dragnet or seine which is a type of net used to catch large numbers of fish) let down into the water…

The question I am pondering these days is, "How do we 'let the kingdom of heaven' down into the community around us?  Especially here in the West where people are jaded and inoculated against the Gospel.  What kind of fishing net will catch a multitiude of fish?

Any ideas?

Commercial fishing

Modern day fisherman on the Sea of Galilee

While we were in Mongolia I had a dream.  In the dream I was handing a small group of people a book.  "It's about how to be a commercial fisherman,"  I told them.  The only other thing I remember about the dream was telling them that the important principle was to fish where Jesus told them.

This dream seemed to be more than a post pizza (or in the case of Mongolia, mutton) dream and it started me thinking.  For Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were all commercial fishermen, when Jesus told them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men," they would have understood this in the context of commercial fishing.  They would not have thought hook and line (ie one fish at a time), they would have assumed fishing nets catching large numbers of fish.

I started investigating the different Scriptures on fishing in the Gospels.  More about that later.

Shortly after this we went to India and one of the people we were with works with fishermen on the coast of India.  So I asked him about how they fish.  (These would be primitive fishermen, probably very little different from fishermen in Jesus' day.) He told me that they have different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and what they are trying to catch.  They have a funnel net which is the kind of net they use when they don't have boats.  They also have a drag net which is maybe 800 to 900 yards long for when they have more than one boat. There are actually several different kinds of nets that are used.

So what does it mean to be a commercial fisherman in the context of Jesus' comments to his disciples?

More to follow.


From Mongolia, we travelled on to China and Hong Kong.  We had wonderful fellowship in China with the couple who had hosted us in Mongolia–Jim and Masako Millard, who live in Japan.  We were good tourists, visiting the Forbidden City and the Great Wall as well as driving by the Olympic Village.  It is incredible what China has done in pulling herself into the 21st century–modern tower blocks, fast roads, and the airport is extraordinary.  However, the other China was not hard to find.  

Here is a small part of the Forbidden City which is the largest palace in the world and was used by all China's emperors.  

And the Great Wall


We also had the huge privilege of meeting with some church leaders.  



Wow!  This is an amazing country.  Where to start?

The people here are fun, friendly, very intelligent.  We have been welcomed so warmly by them. 
Other impressions:  Population less than 3 million in a nation the size of California, so very uncrowded.  Wild and beautiful landscape.  Yaks and camels.  Cold!!

The country was under Russian rule for seventy years.  When they left in 1990, there were only five Christians in the country.  There are now around 50,000!  This means that virtually everyone is a first generation Christian.  The nation opened to outsiders in 1991 and we have met several who found the Lord in the next couple of years.  Sadly, Christians have not just brought the Gospel to this nation–they have brought denominations too. 

There are some incredible stories.  For example, we were talking with one man yesterday who, in the early 90s was given a New Testament by a Canadian family,  He read it but didn't understand it.  They spoke no Mongolian, so introduced him to a Mongolian Christian family who led him to the Lord,  Over the next few weeks, he read his New Testament (this time understanding it) from 7am to 1pm every day, more than thirty times in all.  At the time he was working as a jeweler, but gave this up.  His family didn't like the turn his life was taking so gave him the choice of giving up his new found faith or being thrown out of the family.  He chose Jesus.

From his reading of the Gospels he understood that he was to go.  He didn't know where to go so he found a ride, telling the person he couldn't pay for the ride but would entertain him with stories on the way.  So he spent the journey telling him the stories he had read in the New Testament.  He found out where the person was going, so when he was asked which town he wanted to go to, told him the same place.  When asked who he would stay with, he confessed that he didn't know anyone else in there, so the driver invited him to stay with his family.  When he got to the family he told them stories too and they invited in many of their friends and neighbors to hear the stories.  He offered to pray for anyone who needed prayer, and many became Christians.  He then went to other places and did the same.

All this, just from reading the New Testament! No discipleship or any other training.

We have been sharing six to eight hours per day for the last four or five days with a group of church leaders from across the nation.  What a privilege to have the opportunity to shape an emerging church.


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Yesterday evening, we went to the home of a Mongolian musician who played about ten of his traditional Mongolian instruments for us.  Wonderful!

An Answer to Prayer

I love the way God sometimes answers prayers just to delight us.

We had lost our camera (or maybe had it stolen) in France. Everywhere we have been since, we were sure we would find somewhere to pick up another one, but time did just now allow for it. Now we are in Beijing and were sure we would be able to buy one somewhere here near the airport. But everyone assured us that the nearest place to buy a camera was an hour's journey away into town, and we are only here for a brief stop on our way to Mongolia. It seemed a tragedy not to have a camera to take pictures in Mongolia. We had just about resigned ourselves to continuing to use our phones for pictures.

We were wondering the streets around our hotel–little grocery stores, window makers and so on–in order to get a little exercise, and I was saying to the Lord that I would love it if He could find a way for us to buy a camera.

We went into a couple of telephone stores, but none of them sold cameras. Finally we found a third telephone store, and, like the others, it did not sell cameras. But in our mime to ask about cameras, someone went into the back of the shop and produced her own camera to make sure that was what we were looking for. Then she offered to sell it to us. Tony speaks a smattering of Mandarin, and he was able to work out what they were offering.

So now we are the proud owners of a second hand camera–and all because God delights to answer our prayers.

Central India

We are in Central India with some good friends and have spent much of the day listening to amazing stories of how God is working here. It is different from what He is doing in the US because most of the incredible growth is from new believers.  Brand new disciples are telling their friends and family about the changes Jesus is making in their lives.  Many are getting baptized and new churches are springing up everywhere.

We had the privilege of sitting down with two ladies, one of whom was responsible for more than 6,000 baptisms in the churches she had started, and the other, 4,000.  We heard about a few of the miracles they are seeing.

One of the interesting things is that they are moving from an emphasis on miracles of healing and deliverance to a focus on transformation of society.  They believe that God is restoring the land, not just in terms of gardens producing more crops, but also when roads are built and electricity and water are supplied to areas that have not had it before in answer to the prayers of the saints.


We are now in France and speaking at meetings in both Paris and Nice.  The simple church movement here is in its infancy, but very much alive and well.  With everyone we have met, there is a great sense of anticipation that God is on the move, and that He is about to do something great across the nation.  People have understood Luke 10 principles and French stories of meeting people of peace and starting churches are beginning to emerge.  Praise God!