If God called you to a slum, would you go?
There are days when I wish I could pull away from all the news-the news feed on my email home page, the news pages that abound, even the trending headlines on Facebook. But today I read a good news story, one that encouraged-and challenged-me.
It’s the story of Nitya. He is a Christian living in India. One day, he had a dream. He saw the place God wanted him to go work. There was just one problem-it was a slum. The people were hurting. They were sick. They were dying.
Nitya went anyway. He went to serve the people. He started a school. He listened to their problems. He showed them love.
And God started changing lives in the slum.
It reminds me of another news story, one that changed the world. It’s God’s story. The story of God sending His Son. We are hurting. We were sick. We were dying. But Jesus came anyway. He didn’t have to come, but He did. He came not just to change our lives but to save them.
That’s why we call it the Good News.
What comes to mind when you think of a bicycle? Maybe fun childhood memories of pedaling around a neighborhood (or like me, memories of skinned knees and never quite getting the hang of it!). Maybe you got one for a special birthday or Christmas gift. But have you ever thought of a bicycle as an evangelistic tool?
Let me share a story. Purnendu is a pastor in South Asia. He is responsible for leading congregations at three mission stations. But the mission stations are fifteen miles from his home. His only method of transportation is walking. It took hours to walk to the mission stations and hours to return. These were precious hours he couldn’t spend encouraging other Christians and sharing about Jesus with those who have not heard. But that was before someone gave him the gift of a bicycle. Now he can reach the villages much more quickly, giving him more time to spend with the people there. He can even take his wife along to the services, allowing her to minister to the needs of the women in the congregations. He can also reach additional villages he was not able to reach on foot.
Bicycles for pastors in South Asia mean much more than fond memories or a few hours of pleasure. They are important tools that help them share the love of Jesus with men, women, and children who are dying on the inside from not knowing Him. The next time you jump in your car – or hop on your bicycle – please pray for the pastors in South Asia who are working so hard to reach the lost, whether walking or pedaling to get to them.
I dehydrate quickly. I’m not sure what causes it from a physical standpoint, I just know that if I don’t keep sipping at fluids throughout the day, I start to feel sick. But I never have to walk farther than to the kitchen to get clean, pure water. It’s treated, filtered, cold, and crisp. But in South Asia, simply finding water that won’t cause your children to get sick—or worse—is a daily struggle.
Sometimes the struggle to find safe water is due to drought. When the rain does not come, there is nothing to replenish the water supplies. Other times the struggle is the result of a natural disaster that has polluted the water. Still other times it is due to Christian persecution.
In parts of the world, when a family chooses to follow Christ, their village refuses them access to clean water. The family then may have to walk miles to get water, and sometimes, the water isn’t fit to drink. But they have no choice. They will not abandon their faith in Jesus, so they walk the miles and take the risk.
The good news is that ministries are working to provide these believers—and their villages—with reliable access to clean water. They are working to install wells (such as the Jesus Wells program), that demonstrate the love of Christ, the One who promised: “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” John 4:14 NIV.
Would you join me in giving thanks for the pure water we available and the everlasting life we have through Jesus? And would you join me in praying that families all across South Asia would have the same?
Last week, I received the following in an email from Gospel for Asia:
- 2 out of 5 people in our world – that means 2.5 billion people – have never heard of Jesus’ love for them.
- 80,000 people in South Asia die every day without ever having a chance to hear the name of Jesus. That means every time your heart beats, someone in Asia plunges into hell.
- Although 97% of the world’s unreached lives in the 10/40 window, less than 0.05% of our total resources as the Church in the West are being sent to help share the Good News.
Their website shared additional sobering statistics:
- 500,000 villages in India alone have never heard the Gospel.
- Over 80% of the worlds poorest people live in the 10/40 Window.
In the face of such overwhelming odds, is there anything we can do?
It’s a cliche that I’m sure you’ve heard before, but it carries a truth worth repeating: One with God is a majority. Think about it. In ancient times, God chose one man and his family to preserve the entire human race. He chose one man to become the father of an entire nation. And many years later, God used twelve men who knew Jesus to change the Roman empire and the world.
The message is clear. Odds don’t matter to God.
But how can we help make a difference? Above all, we are called to pray. “And He was saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’” Luke 10:2
There are many ways we can pray. One way we can pray for the lost is by praying for the national missionaries who are serving them. What is a national missionary? A national missionary is a man or woman who already lives in Asia, knows the language or a related dialect, and is not restricted in his or her movement due to being a Westerner. More than 75% of Asian countries do not allow Western missionaries to come and openly share the Gospel.
There is a printable prayer reminder of specific requests to keep on your heart for national missionaries. They face the every day trials and temptations each of us do such as being too busy, focusing on the wrong things, and growing tired doing the right thing. They also face threats most of us do not face, such as direct opposition and persecution for their faith in Christ. I hope you’ll join me in seeking to remember them in prayer often.
Last week, I finished re-reading a biography of Sundar Singh, a missionary who dedicated his life to helping the people of northern India, Nepal, and Tibet see that Jesus Christ came for each and every one of them, that He was not a religion of the West but a living and loving God. He carried a Bible and a blanket and wore a simple robe. His story is a remarkable one, and I am challenged each time I read it. One of the details of his story always stands out to me. He was nicknamed the “apostle of the bleeding feet” because he crossed the Himalayas barefoot numerous times. Whenever I read the description of him walking barefoot, leaving blood-stained footprints in the snow, it reminds me of Jesus. His feet bled for me on the rocks of Calvary.
Sundar Singh was born in 1889 and died in 1929, but the mission to cross the Himalayas to reach every person living there with the message that Jesus came, bled, and died for them goes on. They must be told that Jesus died and rose again, even if it means crossing the Himalayas barefoot, or as is often the case, in flip flops. Can you imagine it? In our modern world, with all its luxuries, missionaries continue to cross the icy and rocky hills in flip flops because they don’t have the winter clothing they need.
Will you pray today for the missionaries working in this rocky region, that God would go before them, break up the soil of the hearts waiting to hear, and provide for their every need? You can read more about ways to pray for the people of Nepal or take a journey through Nepal with a Gospel for Asia field correspondent if you’d like to learn more.