M is for A Mother’s Hidden Legacy

M is for A Mother's Hidden Legacy in South Asia

It’s a story of a forgotten faith, an alcoholic husband, and the God who never lost sight of His children.

Naomi was raised in a Christian home in South Asia. She believed in Jesus and trusted His plan for her life. Then her parents arranged her marriage to a man who did not share her faith. As time passed, Naomi forgot the Lord she once loved, and she put her faith away. Her husband worked faithfully. Unfortunately, he also spent his paychecks on alcohol just as faithfully. It didn’t change when they became parents, first to one child and then to a second. Naomi wearied of the struggle and the hopelessness.

That’s when she remembered the Lord she had once trusted. She began to pray to Him again and dared hope He would one day rescue her from the mess her life had become. In time, she began to attend church. Her husband put up with it for a while, but then he started verbally assaulting her for attending. She didn’t go to church as often, but she would not give it up. She would not forget her Lord again.

As time passed, Naomi’s husband’s lifetime of bad habits and abusing his body began to take a toll on his health. He became desperately ill, but with no money to pay for services, the hospital would not help him. He returned home to wait to die.

But God had other plans.

As a pastor and other Christians prayed with Naomi and her family, God spoke to her husband’s heart. He admitted that the way he had lived his life was wrong. He began to believe that this God who his wife loved so dearly could rescue him as well. Over time, God healed Naomi’s husband from his illness and her husband chose to believe in Jesus. Her husband had seen with his own eyes the love of a God who never forgot His children, even when they forgot Him.

You can read more of Naomi’s story on the Gospel for Asia blog.

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

L is for Literacy

L is for Literacy

Can you imagine never learning to read? Over two hundred and fifty million women in South Asia can’t read, and it can affect every area of their lives, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’d like to share a the story of two women. You can see a video about the first at the link below. She quit school when she was a little girl and never learned to read. Her family was very poor. They didn’t have electricity or television—they didn’t even have good water to drink. She had to walk several miles to go to school, and she didn’t have nice clothes to wear. The other kids made fun of her. One day, she wasn’t able to turn in her homework because she didn’t have any paper. The teacher was so upset that he punished her in front of the whole class. She was so embarrassed she refused to go to school any more.

So, she grew up and got married, but she never learned to read or write. She was embarrassed at church, because she couldn’t read her Bible along with the pastor. And, she was sad, too, because she knew that reading the Bible and learning God’s Word was the best way to learn more about God.

The second story I want to share is the story of Dayita. Her family was poor and she began working as a seamstress to help provide for their needs. She deposited her earnings in the bank only to discover that her husband was withdrawing the money and spending it on alcohol. She considered opening a separate account, but she couldn’t read or write to fill out the forms or manage her finances.

Literacy ministries helped both of these women learn to read and write. It helped empower them with the resources they needed to care for their families. It boosted their self-confidence and helped them develop their sense of self-worth. But it did even more. It taught them more about God, how to read and study His Word, and how to grow closer in their relationship with Him. Would you pray with me that every one of the women in South Asia who cannot read would discover the life-changing power in God’s Word for themselves?

Illiteracy in South Asia

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

K is for the Kitchen in South Asia

K is for the Kitchen in South Asia

I was extremely blessed to spend yesterday with my family and a dear friend. We had a “girls day” full of shopping, laughing, and eating. It was the first the four of us had enjoyed in a long time. And I ate a lot – far more than I needed to. But do you know what? When this morning came, I was hungry again. Despite having a full lunch and a far-more-than-adequate supper, I needed to eat again a few hours later.

It wasn’t a surprise; it’s part of being human. We eat, yet we grow hungry again; we drink yet we grow thirsty again (John 4:13). It’s the same everywhere, in the United States and in South Asia. There’s something else that is part of being human that is the same everywhere. It’s the need each one of us has for real life, for spiritual life, for Jesus Christ.

In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (NIV). Jesus is the only one who can fill the hunger in our hearts for something “more,” something that will last and not fade away. Will you pray with me that families in South Asia and around the world will hear about and feast on the Bread of Life that gives life for all eternity?

Here is a recipe for chapati, an unleavened flat bread often served with every meal in North India. The bread is torn into smaller pieces and used to pick food from the plate. Try making a batch of chapati with your family and pray for the women in India who make these up to three times a day for their families. (Thanks to Gospel for Asia for the delicious recipe!)

Chapati Recipe:

This recipe makes 12 chapatis.

Items needed: Griddle, rolling pin

Ingredients:
3 cups white whole wheat flour or chapati flour (if you have an Indian supermarket near you)
1 1/2 cups milk or water (you might need more or less depending on how dry your flour is)
Salt (a few dashes)
1 Tbsp. Ghee (clarified butter), or vegetable oil. (You may need extra when rolling.)

To make ghee: melt butter on low heat, when it is all melted pour into a heat safe vessel. For example a glass canning jar works perfectly. Allow the melted butter to settle, skim off foam on top, and pour off the oil. Leave the white residue in the bottom of the jar.

Mix flour, salt, and liquid to form dough.

On a clean surface knead oil into dough till smooth.

Let dough rest for about 10-20 minutes, cover with damp towel.

Separate the dough into 12 balls approximately 1 inch across.

Add a few drops of oil to the rolling surface and flatten the ball, start rolling it out then fold it into a triangle and roll it out into a circle again. Repeat then roll it into a circle about the size of your hand.

Place on a medium high hot griddle and cook until the top is puffy and the bottom golden brown, then turnover and cook the other side.

Repeat until all your chapatis are cooked. Serve warm and enjoy!

 Ben and Me

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J is for Justice

J is for Justice

Justice. It’s a big concept. We all want it, but we don’t always know what it looks like. We don’t always recognize it, and sometimes, we fail to see it done. Sometimes the struggle to get it seems hopeless and we are tempted to give up. When we are, we need to step back and check our perspective.

There are different types of justice. There is the justice than men and governments  give and there is the justice God gives. One is fallible; one is  not. Man’s justice is flawed because we are flawed. We confuse justice with vengeance. A legal system designed to protect the weak sometimes betrays them and protects their abusers. Stories of unjust treatment of others abound. Consider these stories of pastors in Sri Lanka and India.

In Sri Lanka, a pastor, his wife, and other Christians were attacked by an angry mob. When police arrived, the Christians were taken to the police station and questioned for seven hours. Those responsible for the attack were not arrested or questioned. Weeks later at a court hearing, a magistrate reprimanded the police and ordered that those responsible be arrested.

Pastor Samuel is a pastor in India who was arrested in 2004 on false charges. After six years in prison, Pastor Samuel was cleared of all charges, but he remained in jail for another two years before finally being released. He missed eight years of time with his wife and his baby girl. Was it fair? No. Was it just? Certainly not.

How do make sense of it all? By remembering that though man’s justice failed, God’s will not. The wrong done to these men and their families will be paid for. But in remembering this, we must remember one even greater truth.

The punishment for sin–any sin–is separation from God. It’s forever without Him. And every single one of us, including myself, deserve this. We broke the rules. God showed us what to do and we failed. It doesn’t matter if it’s one sin or a million. Look at it this way–if you had a glass of water and someone contaminated it with lethal poison, would it matter if it was one drop or a dozen?

Of course not.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s “just one” sin or “just a small sin.” There is no such thing. Sin poisons our relationship with God and it leads to death.

But what God did about it sets Christianity apart from every other religion on earth. Many religions agree that human beings are flawed. All but Christianity require that we fix the situation ourselves, that we work it off, that we pay for what we’ve done. Only God knows that this is futile. We can’t make it right. We can’t neutralize the poison.

So what did He do? He could not stand the thought of us, His children, His creation being separated from Him by sin forever. But sin leads to death. Someone had to neutralize the poison. Only perfection could accomplish this, and since His children couldn’t do it,  He stepped into history in the person of Jesus Christ and did it for us. He drank the poisoned water. He took our sin to the cross and suffered the cruelest death evil could give. But He didn’t stop there. He took the full punishment, separation from God Himself. And when He did, justice was served. Sin was paid for.

Thank God the story doesn’t end there! Because Jesus was perfect and paid fully for our sins, He returned to life, conquering death and sin once and for all.

The pastors in the above stories know this. They know that they deserved to die but that Jesus died in their place. They know that those who have mistreated them and caused them so much pain and heartache need to know this as well.

While we are here on earth, we must do what we can to defend justice and seek it for those who are mistreated. God commands us to do so. But whether we see man’s justice fulfilled or not, we must remember that God’s justice will be. The sins done against us will be paid for. Let us pray that those who commit them will accept the payment God has already provided by asking Him to justify their hearts and apply His grace and His death and resurrection to their hearts. Then one day we can thank God together.

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

I is for International Widow’s Day

I is for International Widows' Day

I was 18 years old when my mom became a widow. My sister was 16. My mom was 44. It was something we never expected or planned for. The emotions were overwhelming. Finding a “new normal” seemed impossible. There were times when laughter seemed impossible. Then there were the bills and the questions about what to do next. My mom had been a stay-at-home-mom my entire life. She had worked various jobs before that, but there was no college degree or specialized field to fall back on.

Through it all, God was gracious. He brought a “new normal.” He carried us through the grief. He brought us laughter. And He continues to carry us through the painful days and memories. They are fewer now, almost sixteen years later, but they still come. He provided for the bills that needed paid in a variety of ways–through the generosity of friends and even strangers, through doctors who waived their fees, and through other ways too numerous to count. And in time, He provided the jobs my family needed. First a hodgepodge of part-time jobs, then a full-time job that lasted a short time, then the full-time job my mom works to this day. I am unspeakably grateful for all He has done and provided for us, and most of all for the everlasting promise that my family will be reunited again one day in His kingdom.

But so many widows around the world face a much darker reality. The emotions are the same; the loss is the same. But the “new normal” doesn’t include forgiven debts or support from family and friends. Did you know that in some cultures in Asia the widow is shunned, blamed for her situation? For many, there are no jobs to be found. For others, the only “job” available is degrading and brings more shame and heartache. And many of these widows live without any eternal hope. They have never heard of Jesus Christ. They do not know that EVERY sin can be forgiven and that there is a loving Father anxiously waiting for them to simply ask Him to do so.

Please pray for these widows today, that they will see the love of Christ and trust Him to hold and heal their broken hearts. Pray for their children to grow up in a safe and loving home, free from fear and disease. Pray for them to be surrounded by women of God who understand their pain and are willing to help them walk through it. And please pray for those seeking to reach out to them, that they would be filled with love for these women and for God.

I very rarely mention financial donations on this website. The needs are many, and I believe God lays on our hearts the ways and methods He wants us to support those in need. But if you feel so led and would like to help meet the needs of widows today, please consider being a part of Gospel for Asia’s International Widows’ Day outreach. Thank you.

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

H is for the Homeless

H is for the Homeless

I was evacuated from my home once. It was several years ago and it was related to a fugitive hunt in my neighborhood. To say I was unprepared for such an event would be an understatement. I live in a small town, in a smaller neighborhood, on a quiet street (except for kids playing and lawnmowers running). Never did I imagine that one evening a police officer would come to my door and tell my family to leave quickly. To this day the memory still doesn’t seem quite real.

My family turned the oven off with food still inside; grabbed jackets, purses, phones, and a computer; and left the house. We weren’t sure where we were headed or how long we would be gone. We called family who lived in the next town who said we were welcome to come stay. We spent the remainder of the evening with my aunt, watching a movie and trying to make an impromptu “girls night” out of the evening. Thankfully, several hours later, we were able to return home.

But I cannot imagine what it would be like to leave your home and have no idea where you were going, what life would be like when you got there, or if you would ever return home again. My family knew that if my aunt had not been home and the situation would have lasted overnight we could stay in a hotel. It wasn’t in the budget, but it would have been done had it been a necessity. Personal items and a change of clothes could be picked up at the local Walmart.

Every year thousands upon thousands of people are evacuated from their homes–only they do not have the options of nearby family, hotels, or Walmarts. They are driven from their homes by violence, as villagers in Orissa, India, were in 2008. They are chased from their homes by monsoon rains, flooding, and natural disasters like the victims of cyclone Phailin were in 2013. They are internally displaced persons (IDPs).

What can we do? More than anything, we must pray. Pray for those who lost not only homes but loved ones. Pray for the families who have no idea where they will sleep tonight or what they will eat. Pray for the missing, the lost, the hurting. And pray for ourselves, that we do not forget that every single life affected by tragedy matters, that we never become so used to hearing about the heartache that we fail to let our hearts break.

Finally, let us pray that every one of these internally displaced persons finds the hope and life that Jesus Christ alone can offer, the Son of Man who had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20 NIV).

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Prayer requests for Iraq, Burma, and Pakistan

Pray for Iraq, Burma, and Pakistan3Would you join me in praying for Iraq and Burma today? Christian families are being driven from Mosul, Iraq, as militants take control of the city. Not only is their future quite uncertain, it is raising questions about the future of the entire nation. In Thailand and Burma, the Thai coup is capturing the world’s attention, but a large-scale humanitarian crisis for the Rohingya people continues to take lives every day. Would you also please pray for the Rakhine people of Burma as well as the Dawei? The majority of both groups have not heard of Jesus, and neither group have Scripture materials in their native language.

I’d also like to share with you a news report regarding the ongoing crisis of Christian girls being abducted and forced to marry, even as young as 12 years old. A new report, this time from a Pakistani Muslim non-governmental organization, has been released highlighting this form of persecution.

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G is for Great is Your Reward

G is for Great Is Your Reward. Praying for the persecuted.

Persecution is an impossible word for me to wrap my head around. How does one person treat another so brutally? How does anyone stand strong in Christ when their body is screaming in pain? How does anyone endure watching their child suffer?

I read a story today about a man and his family in Vietnam. They endured pressure to give up their Christian faith and refused. Recently, authorities beat the man, his wife, and their 9-year-old son before forcing them from their property and confiscating their belongings.

Yesterday, I read this update about Pastor Saeed Abedini, suffering beatings and separation from his family for his faith in Christ. The article says this about him, “But he wants to share Jesus more than he wants to be free.”

There are never any easy answers to the questions of persecution, but I think one of the keys is realizing that these men, women, and children, have allowed God’s love for lost and dying people to so penetrate their hearts that they are willing to do what Jesus did. When He came to earth to suffer and die before coming back to life He proved once and for all that He would rather die for us than live forever without us.

May I be so full of His love that I would be willing to follow Him no matter the cost.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.” (Luke 6:22-23 NIV)

There are many ways you can remember the persecuted Church in your prayers. Here are a few of them.

 

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

F is for Freedom in Christ

F is for Freedom in Christ

I don’t pretend to understand how things in the spiritual world work. I know there is good and evil, and I know that God has triumphed over all evil. I know that when Jesus fights for us, evil doesn’t stand a chance. Over and over again in the New Testament, Jesus drove the evil spirits from people who were powerless to overcome evil on their own. And He told the people that without Him in their lives, they would be at risk of one day finding themselves in worse shape than they were before.

Can you imagine facing evil alone?

How many people have never heard of Jesus’ love? How many have no idea that He not only can overcome evil but that because of His great love for us, He wants to overcome the evil that attacks our lives?

One of the many ways missionaries across South Asia use to reach out and share Jesus’ story with people who have never heard is through showing a film about Jesus’ life. Through the film, people see Jesus reach out in love, they see how He sacrificed His own life to save theirs, and they see Him overcome and defeat evil by coming back to life again. You can read one man’s story of redemption here and see how Jesus used a film and some faithful servants to bring salvation to an entire family. Please pray for these missionaries, that God would continue to supply their needs, that He would grant them freedom to travel to the villages that need reached, and that He would prepare hearts to hear and receive the Good News that He wants to defeat evil for us.

 Ben and Me

Categories: Blog for Asia | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

E is for Encouraging the Workers in the Field

E is for Encouraging the Workers in the Field2

“When I share the Gospel, the people say don’t come to my village again. And if you come again, I will put you in prison or I will beat you. But we will come back again and we will take fasting and prayer and we will go again to the same village because we believe Jesus has called us.”

“I am ready to suffer for Christ because I always keep this in my mind, that Christ has suffered for me, and no matter what people say or do, even if they take my life I am ready to face it.”

“He sent His one begotten Son for us. If He is ready to send His one begotten Son, why we should not go?”

These are the words of missionaries in South Asia who are reaching out to their family, friends, neighbors, and forgotten villages throughout the land. They know the language. They know the customs and culture. They have received the training at the 67 Bible colleges throughout the land. They don’t represent a foreign nation or a foreign religion. They live and work and serve alongside their brothers and sisters.

But they face many obstacles. Like Elijah, they sometimes wonder if they are the only ones who follow Christ. Like Paul and Silas, they know what it is like to be beaten for the words they speak. They don’t always have food or shelter. They need prayer partners and ministry partners to encourage them and let them know they are not alone. Come and meet some of these men and women. Read about the land that they serve in and the needs that exist. Then join them in this mission to reach the forgotten with the love of Jesus Christ.

http://www.gfa.org/sponsor/why-national-missionaries/

 Ben and Me

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