Monthly Archives: June 2014

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

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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

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