Sunday, October 30, 2016

GFA DAY 32 The Power of Prayer

Sister Mary suffered from debilitating pain and couldn’t find a cure. A vast amounts of money wasn’t enough to buy a cure, and eventually she planned to kill herself. But on the night she expected to find death, she found new life. Jesus came to her in a dream, and she gave her life to Christ.

Mary could have done like many people do, commit to going to church—when it’s convenient, but she decided that she would truly follow Christ. She shares His love throughout the community praying for the needs of individuals, families, and villages. Many of her prayers have brought about physical healing. But even more importantly they have brought spiritual healing. 

In an area where black magic is the norm, where superstition rules, Sister Mary’s prayers have brought about healing, transformation, and changed hearts. God can use your prayers too. 

                                            Why not start today by praying for: 
+Widows. The treatment of widows in South Asia is unimaginably horrific.
+ Abandoned Children. Countless children in Asia have been discarded and abused, but they are not forgotten.
+ Asia’s Youth. Did you know that 40 percent of India’s 1 billion people are under the age of 18?
+ National Missionaries. Everyday people who love the Lord and rely on Him for help as they give their lives to further God’s Kingdom
To see more ways to pray for South Asia visit

            GFA has provided a short video (about 8 minutes) about Mary’s prayer ministry and the effect that it has had  on the people within her expanding circle of influence. Watch it HERE

Saturday, October 29, 2016

thoughts on REBIRTH

Just a few months ago I wrote about a novel called HasteningThe premise was to send missionaries into all the world, until, a la Matthew 24:14, there was ‘no place left’ where the gospel had not been shared.  Now Stephen R Smith has released the sequel in this 'No Place Left' saga. Rebirth (2414ventures, 2016), picks up where Hastening ended.
              Senator Michael Worth, now Number Seven of a group of extreme power brokers known simply as the Ten, wants to be Number One. On his way to that exalted position he decides to take on religion, all religion, including Christianity. Of course that’s not his stated goal; he wants to be the instrument through which universal peace is finally achieved.  It’s within this context that Christopher Owens and his group, KPF (Kingdom Preparation Force), try to go to each under- and un-reached people group in the world. In Hastening we learned that they goal was to reach all groups by 2025, and in doing so be part of the generation that will ‘hasten the day” (2 Peter 3:12) and welcome Christ’s return.

                The group knows, because they have read through the biblical book of Revelation, that a lot of ugly things are going to happen before Jesus finally returns, and they prepare for the worst. Through their preparation their faith strengthens, and many are martyred for the cause.

                If you’ve read the New Testament, you’ll get many of the references to false prophets, false teachings, and some of the elements of John’s Revelation. For those who haven’t read through the Bible, the references are explained.

                If you don’t understand why missionaries do what they do, this book may give you a pretty good idea. Although there is a synopsis of Book I of the saga at the start of this book, Book II, I would recommend that you read Hastening, before digging into Rebirth.

                If you’re a Christian interested in end times, and you like pleasure reading, this novel is probably something you would enjoy.

                I received an electronic copy of the book in exchange for agreeing to post a review.


Friday, October 28, 2016

GFA Day 31 18 million street children

              It’s hard for me to imagine 18 million of anything. Oh sure we hear about athletes making almost that many dollars per year. But even that is beyond my grasp.  We live comfortably on a very small percentage of that amount. What would I do with $18 million? And even as that seems like a lot of money, would it be enough to deal with the increasingly large number of children on the street. Stats provided by Gospel for Asia suggest that there are 18 million street children in India. I can believe it. In fact this past summer I think they were all hanging out at the entrance to our hotel in Delhi.

                For whatever reason, they are alone on the street. And things happen there that rob them of their childhood innocence, if ever they had any. They are sold into slavery: forced labor, and more disgustingly into the sex trade. Some avoid the traffickers, but most of them end up in gangs, they seek relief from their pain through alcohol and drugs. The concept of trust is totally foreign to them, and every day their main goal is to survive yet another day. Another day of darkness and despair. 
                There’s 18 million of them, and that’s just in one country. That $18 million salary seems paltry next to the need. It would be enough to give each of those street children $1.00 a year. Hardly enough to lift them from despair.
                The Apostle James wrote that pure and faultless religion is to care for orphans and widows.  Where is the church? Where is the pure and faultless religion? Who is caring for these “street orphans”? Many of them have parents still living, but they are separated from them. Many girls are abandoned simply because they are girls. In the true sense they are not orphans, but…
                But there is hope. Gospel for Asia has a home for runaways and abandoned children, a home where the children are protected from predators while the staff try to effect reconciliation with the birth family.

Your gift today will help even more children escape their street life, and offer them a chance to succeed.   When you click HERE, you'll be redirected to a page with a 5 minute video explaining the plight of Street Children in Asia. Heart strings will be touched, and hopefully purse strings will be opened!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Preaching in your context - does it take away from the Message?

            From time to time all preachers would do well to evaluate the connection between their theology and their preaching. The title of Aaron E. Lavender's book suggests that he has done that, and so I was interested in his conclusions.
            In the interest of full disclosure, it is my interest in multi-cultural worship, rather than my race that drew me to the book. I often find that although a book or paper is directed primarily to members of a certain ethnic group or race, there are many eternal truths that cross the borders that men have so arbitrarily defined. And that's the case with this book. Dr Lavender is writing within the context of a culture to which I don't belong. And the group to who he writes is made obvious in the title of the book" Enduring Truth: Restoring Sound Theology and Relevance to African American Preaching. (B&H Academic, 2016)
            Lavender addresses four main points in this fairly short book . First he looks at the crisis, which he identifies as the 'erosion of biblical preaching in African American pulpits'. Next he addresses the importance of sound exegesis, so that preaching stays true to the text, and is also relevant within the context and culture. Third, he develops a theology of preaching and lastly addresses relevance, especially in regards to postmodernism.  In an appendix, he offers a couple of sermon outlines.
            The crisis: Lavender makes some excellent points about how a number of issues and theologies have impacted preaching in some African American pulpits. 'Black liberation' and 'prosperity' theologies coupled with problems caused by racial segregation lead to what I would call a culture specific preaching style. But most of the points that Lavender makes could easily be applied to other cultures. Hispanics may not have been enslaved, at least not in this country, but there are certainly other parallels when it comes to jobs, politics, education, socio-economic status and discrimination.
            As he moves on to exegesis, the reader, presumably the African American preacher,  is invited to understand how important is careful interpretation of the text. While it is easy, and natural, to want to apply the text to one's current situation, the preacher must be careful to not read into the text something that isn't there. A student of the Gospels will have learned that there are often multiple layers in the parables, when we are taught that there can be multiple meanings, it's easy to add one more. Of particular help in this section is a sub-section dealing with building blocks to a sound exegesis.
            Lavender is a proponent of expository preaching, and at one time I might have agreed with him, that exposition is the best way to preach. Delving into what the text tells us, and then applying it to our current reality is an excellent way to stay true to the text. Over the years though, I have come to believe that sometimes I can't do something a certain way just because that's what I prefer. If the audience is not going to respond to (understand) one style of preaching, it may be up to the preacher to change his style. The method, not the message, changes. In a church with a long history of expository preaching, and in which there are few outsiders coming in, then it might not be necessary to change the preaching style, but to reach an unchurched group, the preacher, much like Jesus, might have to reach the people where they are.  
            Because the pastor in an African American church is typically an authority figure,  he had best be sure his preaching adheres strictly to scripture. I wonder though, how long it will be before African American churches follow the lead of many white churches: the pastor is often seen as more of an employee than as a spiritual leader.
            And that brings us to the fourth section: Relevance.  Our society has changed, and is changing. Post modernity, and a post Christian  society means that there are people entering our churches for the first time. More and more we see biracial couples, and their children, coming to church. Somebody is likely to feel out of place, because segregation is no longer the operative word in the church setting.
            God's enduring truths should be shouted from every pulpit in America on a regular basis. Unfortunately too many pastors have decided that there are too many other things that need attention, and as a result preaching suffers- not only the content, but the context and the execution. Pastors of all races, colors, and backgrounds will benefit from reading this book, answering the discussion questions provided for each chapter, and then asking if they are truly preaching the Enduring Truths of scripture, or have they allowed society to influence the Word more than they use the Word to impact society.

            I  received a digital copy of this book I from B&H Academic in exchange for my review. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

A moderate approach to a divisive issue.

                One of the most divisive issues in the Church today concerns homosexuality and same sex marriages. And it's not just an American issue, churches in other countries are chiming in with their opinions on the stance being taken in this country, and other Western countries. Somewhere between Jesus loves the LGBT community so we'll be progressive and fully embrace members of that community and allow them to fully participate in the life of the church, including serving in pastoral roles, and Homosexuality is a sin, they need to give up their evil ways or be doomed to hell, there has to be some middle ground. A stance that is firmly grounded in scripture. A stance that acknowledges that God loves people, and so should we. But also a stance that allows us to call sin a sin.
              Many Christian conferences include breakout sessions on how to talk with or deal with the members of the LGBT  community that  come to our churches. And there recently seems to be an increased focus on helping LGBT teens, as well as the different takes on whether same sex marriages should be allowed, and the impact that they may have on children and on the definition of family.
            This is a difficult blog for me to write, because I believe in the inerrancy of scripture, which by extension means that I think we should love people, but see homosexuality as a sin. I'm also reluctant to condemn members of the LGBT community until the church takes the  same approach to other sexual sins. Remembering this middle of the road position, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read books like Joe Dallas' Speaking of Homosexuality: Discussing the Issues with Kindness & Clarity (Baker Books, 2016).
                Dallas is a former gay activist, who changed his mind about the lifestyle he was engaged in and promoting, and has now written several books on human sexuality from a Biblical perspective.  I found this book to be helpful because the author addresses several of the sub-plots involved with this argument between traditional mainline Christianity and a new revisionist theory that manages to convey the impression that we've mistranslated, misinterpreted and otherwise gotten it wrong for the past several thousand years.  
                As he discusses each of his subject areas, Dallas offers the traditional position on the subject, the scripture that backs it up, and highlights the main points of the revisionist argument, followed by a response to the argument.  Much of the discussion has to do with how individual words are used throughout scripture, making a case for or against a certain position.
                Especially in this election season, I'm tired of harsh rhetoric, so it was refreshing to read this book. The author is obviously passionate about his beliefs, but he expresses his arguments in a gracious and loving manner. A manner that reminds us that God does love people who think differently than we do, but also charges us to accept the word of God as it was written for us rather than try to change it to fit the views of a fallen world.

                I received  a copy of this book in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

GFA Day 30 Unequally yoked, and the power of prayer.

Naomi, a woman in south Asia had grown up in a Christian home, worshiping God, going to church, and looking forward to raising her children to know Jesus. But her parents forgot their Christianity when it came time to arrange a marriage for their daughter, and the groom was not a believer.  

Yes the wedding was in a church, but the marriage was far outside the church. Tarak refused to let his wife attend church services, and the things she knew best, prayer, bible reading and attending worship were forbidden, and hidden. Naomi knew that it would take a miracle, or extreme courage on her part to be able to pass on her Christian faith to her children.

In addition to being antagonistic to his wife’s beliefs, Tarak had something else going on: he liked to drink—a lot. As his alcoholism progressed things got worse for the family. He made money working, but spent most of his pay check on booze and tobacco. Usually there was not enough left for the basics, and when two children were born into the family, things got worse.

Finally Tarak’s poor choices caught up with him. He got sick and needed an operation. As is often the case with alcoholics, there was no money for the needed medical attention. Naomi and her children resigned themselves to a life without dad. 

But as Tarak was drinking himself to death, Naomi had returned to church, and the children had been enrolled in a Bridge of Hope school. One day Tarak’s son shared with the staff what was going on with his father. Some staff members came to the house and shared the gospel with an emaciated and obviously dying Tarak. 

At that point something changed, and his animosity toward Christianity left. Naomi was allowed to pray, to read her bible, and to go to church.  At church they prayed for Tarak’s healing, and healed he was. Now Tarak is a committed Christian, he brings his family to church, and his son and daughter have the hope of continuing the family legacy: raising each generation to serve God.

Yes they were unequally yoked, but prayer is a powerful weapon, and the grace of God is exceedingly great!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

GFA Day 29 Sponsor a Child

In the interest of transparency, I have to confess that I do not sponsor a child through GFA, Compassion or any other agency. Do I think sponsorship is a good idea? In many cases yes. Is it the only good idea? No.

However, I think that God will put the idea on the hearts of those who need to know about this option, and if they hear about it from this Blog, then God gets the glory. Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, (See Romans 10:13-15) building on an idea that he got while studying the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, that before people can respond they have to hear, before hearing someone has to speak it, before they are in position to speak, they have to be sent. So today I have been sent, via blog, to speak so that people can hear, and possibly respond. God knows who needs to hear this today, and He will make sure that person or those persons get the opportunity.

I said that I don’t sponsor a child, but I do support some missionary activity that directly impacts children in situations much like those you can read about if you follow this link. I support activity that indirectly impact children like Daya and Nibun (who I’ve written about before), and I’m closely connected to the children of a refugee family with which I have the privilege and pleasure of volunteering. I even support financially a missionary couple serving in the part of the world where GFA operates.

So what is it about sponsoring a child that you need to know? If you followed the above link, you know why there is such a compelling need for sponsors. Your $35.00 a month pledge provides much needed help for people who often exist on less than $2.00 a day. It means food, it means medicine and educational opportunities.  

But more importantly you can directly impact the life of a child like this one:

Sponsorship is more than sending a check, or having a monthly charge on your credit card. The great hope is that you will develop a relationship with ‘your’ child. When you pledge, GFA sends a picture of a child, along with some personal info. You can write letters to this child, pray for him or her, and know that Bridge of Hope will ensure that your child is gaining a far brighter future, and experience the love of God. Click HERE for more info about sponsoring.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Starting Over: Your Life Beyond RegretsEveryone has regrets. That's just a given. Sometimes we regret doing something, and sometimes we regret getting caught.  Sometimes we regret the missed opportunities and sometimes we regret that we didn't do things differently.  And along with all of those regrets there is another constant. We all have regrets that we've never don't anything about.

           But all that is about to change, and if it doesn't you can add something else to your personal  list of regrets. That's because the Ferguson brothers, Dave and Jon, have written a book that can help you break that 'sorry cycle'.  The book, Starting Over: Your Life beyond Regrets, (Waterbrook, 2016), is short: less than 200 pages, and is an easy read.

           The authors take us through what they call the 'sorry cycle': longing for more>regret>longing>regret. But people tend to stay there rather than take the next step, the step that will allow them to break that cycle and get more out of life.  People get stuck in their regrets.

          In Section two, breaking out of the sorry cycle, we are taught how to 1) recognize those regrets, 2) release the regrets and 3) redeem the regrets. Redemption has  a sense of freedom  attached to it. We can chose to be enslaved by our regrets, or we can be redeemed and find freedom.

            And the key to it all is forgiveness. Is it relationship, is it finances, it is a brutal sin or offense against you , or committed by you.  And depending on the situation there are different types of forgiveness.  The really neat thing is that it's a simple plan. A plan that sets you free from your regrets. 

                Blessed to receive an Advance Review Copy from the publisher in exchange for my opinions expressed in the form of a review.

           5/5. You'll regret not reading this book.

GFA DAY 28 Kalavati wanted to be like everyone else

            When I was reading Kalavati's story, I had to stop and think what it would have been like to make my son, at the age of 8 work beside me as a day laborer just so that we might have the possibility of two meals a day.  Imagine a childhood that doesn't include being a child, imagine a child having to assume adult responsibilities in order to survive.
                Then I finished reading the story.  This young girl's life was totally disrupted when her father started suffering from mental illness. That's bad enough in anyone's life, but from out western  perspective, it gets a little strange.  "One day someone performed witchcraft on him, causing him to become mentally disturbed".
                A mentally ill father who eventually disappears for over a year, and when he is found is still obviously ill, not enough money for food let alone medical care for Dad and education for the children, and a host of other problems eventually lead Kavati's mom to seek work in a nearby big city. (Actually the neighbors made the decision for her, since the ill husband was often violent, she was forced to relocate). She worked long hours and young Kalavati worked beside her, but even that wasn't enough to ensure 2 meals a day.

                The day came when Mom had had enough and decided that death was the only alternative: she was planning on taking her own life.  But about this time some Bridge of Hope members started visiting the family. Even when told that this family didn't believe in God, they kept going back, and their gentle presence made a difference. They were able to help the mom find a job, they helped find medical treatment for the dad, and finally Kalavati is allowed to be a child again. She is enrolled in a Bridge of Hope school, and now when she works alongside her mom, it's because she wants to do so.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

GFA DAY 27: Pray for the Widows

        Depending on their worldview, some people tend to see things differently than other people. Let’s talk about widows. 

       The Bible, in both Testaments, has admonitions to care for widows. Frequently the admonitions are in the context of justice- care for those who due to their circumstances need extra help. It’s not a blanket statement that says that if you’re a widow the church has to take care of you. Those who can care for themselves should, and if there are believing family members, the responsibility falls on them before the church should be expected to assume the burden.  The Psalmist tells us that God is a ‘defender of widows’ (Ps 68:5), and in Deuteronomy (14:29) we read that the widows will come and eat and be satisfied.

       In the New Testament there are also references, Paul, writing to Titus, says that family members should put their religion in to practice, and one of the ways they can do so is by caring for widowed mothers and grandmothers. The Apostle James took it one step further: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”(James 1:27)

       In our country there are many widows who live fulfilling lives after the death of their husband. They have a pension or continue to work. They might volunteer in their communities, or travel. Sure they miss their husbands, and they have to change their life style. Some don’t like being alone and so they remarry. Others take advantage of the many social programs available in our society. The point is they aren’t shunned as they are in some societies.

       In parts of Asia a widow may be blamed for her husband’s death and even abandoned by her own family! In addition to losing her husband, there is often collateral damage involving a loss of self-respect, security, dignity, and hope.  A widow is often seen as unlucky, and might even be blamed for the death of her husband. She is cursed! 

       She may be evicted from her home, even by her adult children and left to beg in the streets to make a living. No wonder so many contemplate suicide- they want to end the shame, a shame that is obvious because widows don’t wear colorful saris, they wear a plain white one, and so everyone knows about their situation. And no one wants to be around someone who is cursed, who brings bad luck. 

       As Gospel for Asia-supported workers minister among these widows, providing them with food, clothing, and education for their children and sources of livelihood in Jesus' name, these precious women discover that love and hope did not die with their husbands after all. You can further impact their lives with your prayers: 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

GFA Day 26 When Disaster strikes

Over the last few days much of the news has been about Hurricane Matthew and the devastation it caused in Haiti, in Cuba, and along the southeastern coast of the US. We won’t even get into the political circus, or the creepy clowns that also get their fair share of media coverage.

Hundreds, perhaps even thousands dead in the wake of the storm; millions of dollars in damage to real estate and infrastructure; and comparisons and reminders of the last storm, the last earthquake. But we tend to remember those things that impact us directly, or are at least close at hand. Not once as I saw coverage of Matthew, did anyone mention Cyclone Phailin, one of the biggest ‘natural disasters’ of 2013. It impacted millions of lives as it destroyed more than 800,000 homes in the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.  More than ¾ of a million homes lost.  

Just a couple of weeks ago we had a tornado touch down near where I live, the first in 17 years. It wasn’t anything like tornados that impact other parts of the county on a regular basis, nowhere near as devastating as Hurricane Matthew, and certainly not as horrific as Cyclone Phailin. Unless of course, it was your house that was destroyed, your roof that was blown off, your house that was picked up and slammed down a block away. Unless of course it was you that barely escaped being crushed by a giant tree crashing through your roof, or slashed by broken glass, or pelted by flying debris. The cleanup continues, and insurance adjusters have been kept busy.  It was bad, but it certainly could have been much worse.

Luckily for some of the families who lost homes to cyclone Phailin there was help available.  Compassion Services teams are still at work, rebuilding homes, sharing the gospel and offering hope. It’s a long, ongoing process. As of January of last year, over 140 homes had been rebuilt by Gospel for Asia teams. They provided food and comfort. But there are still people whose homes haven’t been rebuilt. Help during and after natural disasters is one of the things that is available thanks to contributions from generous GFA supporters.

What would you do? Where would you turn if disaster struck and everything you had and depended on was suddenly gone? Food for thought! 

Saturday, October 8, 2016


And then I heard the voice of the Master: "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?"
I spoke up, "I'll go. Send me!" 
(Isaiah 6:8 from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Real life heroes do exist. We read about them in the newspaper, hear their stories told by TV and radio reporters, and sometimes we see the Hollywood version of their stories at the local movie theater. Yes, they certainly exist.  Unfortunately we usually only hear about the flash in the pan heroes: the fireman who risks his life to save the family pet. Captain Sully who safely landed his plane in the Hudson River, Todd Beamer who 15 years ago proved himself a hero on United Airlines Flight 93 which had been hi-jacked as part of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But what about everyday real life heroes like Nitya Balji. A real household name, right? Everybody has heard of Pastor Nitya. If I were a real spin-master you would be nodding your head in agreement, acting as if you knew of this man. But he isn’t internationally famous, he hasn’t won a Nobel Prize for his work in the slums. You probably don’t know the name, but Pastor Nitya is a hero.  

This is a man who dreamed of a shack by a sewer. He probably didn’t understand the dream at first, but then he realized that God was speaking to him. God needed someone to go to the slums, and do ‘for the least of my brothers…” God needed someone to minister to the poorest of the poor, and was asking “Whom shall I send?” Nitya responded: "Send me,”

And he went. He stepped into the slum, millions of people, people that God loves, living in deplorable conditions; abuse evident at every corner, begging the norm, hopelessness and despair, alcohol abuse, no chances for education, sanitation lacking, and in the middle of this, Pastor Nitya knew that he was at home. This place was where he had been called to serve.  So he moved to the slum and dedicated his life to serving in that forsaken place.

He started with the children. They soon shared God's love, the love that Pastor Nitya had shared with them, with their families. And now there is a thriving fellowship. Hope where there had been despair.

We look at the slums and wonder how they could exist, how people can survive in those conditions. We might not be able to imagine it, but for many people, (up to a billion by some estimates, and projected to double within the next generation) it is a way of life from which they see no chance to escape.

Gospel for Asia sponsored pastors and missionaries bring a new light and a new life into the slums. As they serve, they educate children, open schools, teach women job skills, offer addiction counseling, and above all share the Love of God with people who are desperate, without even realizing it, to hear the gospel. Watch a film clip of Pastor Nitya’s story HERE and pray about how you might help Real Life Heroes minister to the poorest of the poor. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

GFA CHALLENGE DAY 24: Veil of Tears Movie

Everyone makes choices, some of them good and some of them bad. Some choices fall into one or the other of those categories depending on your perspective.

Some of our bad choices are made because of circumstances, where we are, when and with whom; and might even have something to do with our current state of inebriation.  Face it, alcohol and drugs often lead to bad choices.  And some choices are made on a purely economic basis: I can’t afford that new computer because the rent is due (good choice). Or maybe I shouldn’t have bought that new barbecue grill- now I have no money to pay the electric bill (bad choice).

But women in south Asia are continually being ask to make a choice when it comes to being pregnant. In a culture which says that sons are important, more and more women are testing to determine the gender of an unborn baby, and then making ‘reproductive rights decisions” accordingly. That sounds so genteel doesn’t it? But the harsh reality is that some statistics provided by Gospel for Asia indicate that Gender-Selective Infanticide is happening in parts of Asia today.  According to GFA’s numbers over 50,000 abortions occur each month because the unborn child is a girl.

On so many levels that is a bad choice. For one thing how long does it take before the birth rate drops dramatically? Before the male/female ration has reached a dangerous place where there are not enough women of child-bearing age to maintain the population. Then there’s the question of abortion in general.

But for some of these women, aborting female fetuses seems like a good choice: both short and long term. In the short term the woman doesn’t have another mouth to feed; a mouth that will not grow up to work in the fields and later take care of aging parents. And in the long term, the choice is made for the girl herself: knowing the future that awaits still another woman from the Dalit class, it’s almost a blessing to protect her from the indignities and abuses that await.

But there is hope. Millions of Asian women see their future as hopeless. Hunger, abuse, rape, struggling to care for their children are their daily realities. They face a lifetime of adversity in the face of a culture which is stacked against the.  But thanks to agencies like Gospel for Asia, there is hope. As the Gospel of Jesus is being shared, GFA workers are also supporting these women in tangible means. Churches are being planted, and they are involved with education, with providing sewing machines then teaching women to sew so they can make a living.

A heart-wrenching movie, “Behind the Veil of Tears” shows what living conditions are like, and also the hope that is being provided. A behind-the-scenes clip is available here  You can also order a copy of the movie to show at your church. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

GFA DAY 23 If You Didn't have a Bible

       I rarely open a Bible. Shocking news since I'm a pastor, and although I have many Bibles on my book shelves, I rarely look at them.  Before you get too upset, remember I said rarely, not never. I have most of the same versions on my phone, my tablet, my laptop and my desktop.   And I do look at those - a lot!

       But I remember days when most families had 1, or maybe 2 Bibles in the house, and the running joke was that somebody needed to keep the Bible dusted off, just in case the pastor were to drop by unexpectedly.  And when the pastor and his family were invited to dinner,  that Bible was prominently displayed- just in case the pastor needed to show you something!  

       And there are lots of people in the world who don't own a Bible, many in this country, for a number of reasons. Some are pre-believers, others follow other faith traditions, and some Christians are content with the Bible App on their phone.

       But in parts of the world there are people who don't have access to a Bible, and that makes a big difference. Imagine if you couldn't turn to that familiar passage when you are hurting, or there was something you wanted to look up. Or when you wanted to immerse yourself in God's Word because you knew that it was time to move to the next level, to take the next step on your spiritual walk. How comfortable would you be if your pastor didn't have a Bible, and relied on his memory to draw on passages of scripture. If the pastor doesn't own a Bible, maybe it's not all that important.

       Gospel for Asia has a program which allows you to purchase Bibles which are then gifted to pastors and missionaries. They can use those Bibles to grow on their own faith journey, and also have some available to share with new believers and also with Christians who have not been able to get one.  Learn more about sharing the gift of a Bible by clicking here 

Monday, October 3, 2016

GFA DAY 22 Scandals and Sewing Machines

Hansini was persecuted, like Paul she was beaten for her faith. She had dared to violate the traditions of her family, dared to forsake their gods. Although the family was poor, at least they weren’t a part of the lowest of the classes in the prevailing caste system. But her actions had brought shame on her family and the village. And no one was about to let her forget it.

By becoming a Christian her family felt that she had shamed them. The neighbors’ actions made it clear that they blamed Hansini’s parents –they couldn’t control their daughter. And so her father beat her – mercilessly.  The people in the village were offended that she had brought such a scandal to the village, and so the family was shunned. Scandal- the stuff that makes the world go round, especially in small closely connected communities.   

And then it’s Christmas. Christians celebrate Christmas. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews don’t, except perhaps in the secular sense.  In the USA people seem to like the holiday’s festive atmosphere, most people like getting gifts, and the concept of peace on earth good will to men is universally accepted, it’s just that the ideas for achieving peace and good will tend to vary widely.  But in some other countries, other cultures, Christmas is still an anomaly, so when Hansini brought home a Christmas gift from her church, a sewing machine, people were amazed.

And then there amazement grew. Hansini learned to sew, and then she started making money from her sewing. After the way she had been treated by her family and her community, everyone thought that as soon as she had enough money she would find a way to leave the village where she had grown up. But her attitude was a little different, and instead of spending her money on herself, she used to it pay the family’s bills. She explained to her confused parents that Jesus is the giver of all good gifts, and because of His grace the family was able to overcome its financial struggles.

Soon her family, amazed by God's grace, also became Christians, and within a few years many of the people who had shunned and persecuted Hansini were coming to her with a simple request: please teach our children to sew. Hansini agreed, and during sewing classes tries to share Jesus’ love with those who had previously hated her. It’s working, the persecution has stopped, and people are coming to church, anxious to know more about Jesus. 

You can help spread the Good News by providing a sewing machine. Find out how

Sunday, October 2, 2016

GFA DAy 21 Hope Comes to the Slums

Sometimes we need to put things in perspective.  That 3 year old car you’re thinking of replacing because it’s so old--many people in South Asia can’t afford the air freshener that you change every couple of months. The freezer that doesn’t hold everything you bought when the local store had a big sale, believe it or not there are people who don’t even have ice for an ice-chest. That job you hate, or won’t even apply for because it’s “beneath” you-- imagine working long hours for a dollar or two a day, and when you can’t find even that kind of demeaning work you resort to begging, scavenging, or even prostitution.

And housing? Do we even want to go there? In Salt Lake City the news last week was “Operation Diversion” a way to clean up the parks where drug deals are a daily event and the city’s homeless population tends to congregate. Some were arrested, some were offered rehabilitation opportunities, and still others were asked to move on. But that’s just a few hundred people. What do you do when tens of millions are living in areas that quickly become slums- one room shacks with no insulation, the stench of human waste because the streets are being used as toilets? Garbage is left in the alleys to decay, and with such poor sanitation everyone is susceptible to disease. One room shacks, no bathrooms, cardboard walls—now tell me again why you don’t like your house, or your neighborhood.  

But even for those living in the slums there is hope. Not because they can see the sun, not because they leave flowers at a shrine and hope the ‘luck gods’ will make their lives better, but because of Jesus. Almost 20 years ago Gospel for Asia started a ‘slum ministry’.   (I’ve seen something similar in the ‘dump ministries’ in different parts of Mexico) Pastors and members of “the Sisters of Compassion” go into the slums and minister in many ways: they pray and they listen; they teach classes for adults and tutor children; they provide toilets, water filters, and winter clothing. And often are able to provide income-generating gifts that help break that cycle of poverty. And most importantly they share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The share the hope that believers have, they share that these slum dwellers can also receive God's mercy, and above all the hope that Jesus, crucified and resurrected, will one day return to bring His people home.

To find out more about the slums of South Asia, follow this link .