Monthly Archives: July 2014

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

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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

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