Blog for Asia

Z is for Zoo Animals

Safari collage2

I can hear you asking now – what in the world do zoo animals have to do with praying for the people of the 10/40 window? Well, let me show you! There is something fascinating, especially to young children, about exotic animals. Camels and elephants, lions and tigers, even monkeys and crocodiles fire the imagination and invite us to explore entirely new worlds.  What if we introduced children to far away lands by using something they are already interested in – animals?

For example, you can use the Sumatran rhinoceros to introduce children to the nation of Indonesia. The Asian elephant is a doorway into Thailand. The saltwater crocodile provides a way to visit Burma. The Arabian oryx is a gateway to Oman. And what more natural way to start an exploration of India than with the Bengal tiger? Choose any animal you like and gather some free resources about it such as pictures, notebooking pages, free books, etc… Talk to your children, your Sunday School group, or your co-op class about where these animals live, how they live, and what their habitats are like. Then talk about the people who also live in these places, how they live, and what their needs are. There are many free online resources for finding such information. One of my favorite sites is the Joshua Project.

The needs around us are almost limitless. Thankfully, our Creator has given us the limitless gift of His love, wisdom, and imagination to meet these needs. What can each of us do today to help meet the needs of the 10/40 window?

Ben and Me

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Y is for Youth

I don’t have a long post for you to read today, just faces to share. These are the faces of the children of Asia who need our prayers and the love of Jesus Christ, the faces that draw my heart back again and again.
Y is for Youth3

Ben and Me

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X is for eXtra Income

Blogging Through the Alphabet-X is for eXtra Income2

Have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever wished for just one break, one chance to work to provide for your family? It’s not that you don’t want to work but that you cannot find a job, any job.

This is a picture of a woman in South Asia and a water buffalo. If you’ve ever been introduced to the wonderful and wacky world of Veggie Tales, this picture can only bring one song to mind. But the reality is that everyone does not have a water buffalo, including those who really need one.

What do water buffalo and unemployment have to do with each other? Simple. In South Asia, there are thousands upon thousands of desperate men and women who want to provide for their families but cannot. The jobs simply aren’t there. The means to provide do not exist. The ones who do manage to get jobs often find themselves taken advantage of. They work all day, often in dangerous or unhealthy conditions, but are not paid enough to adequately provide for themselves and their children.

A water buffalo is a tool families in South Asia can use to earn the income they need. It’s not extra income; it’s the income necessary to survive. There are all kinds of tools that can help a family like the family of the woman in the picture above. A few chickens, a sewing machine, a pull cart, even a small produce scale (which only costs $10) can make a lifetime of difference in the lives of those desperate to provide for their families.

May I ask you to do me a favor? This Christmas, when you are looking for a special gift for a special someone, or trying to decide what to get for that person who has everything, would you consider giving a gift in their honor to someone who has nothing? If you run an office that receives an abundance of chocolate and treats each year from patrons, consider asking them to instead send a gift that will equip others to work and provide food, medicine, and education for their families. It’s easy. It’s fast. And it produces fruit that will last forever.

Take a look and see what you can do to help.


Ben and Me

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W is for Winning the Lost

W is for Winning the Lost

They were covered in filth, and they didn’t even know it. They had lived in it for so long they had grown used to it. Some didn’t know there was another way. Others should have known, should have remembered, but they had forgotten.

So he came to them. He came to where they were. He looked past the filth. He gave light to those who had never seen. He reminded those who had forgotten. Some were overjoyed to hear the news. Others scoffed. Still others grew angry-how dare anyone come into their world and challenge the way things had always been done.

But he reached out anyways-to the lost, the scoffers, and the angry. And he embraced them. He wasn’t afraid to get involved.

Then he went beyond.

He took the filth, the sin and shame, on himself. Not just on his skin or his hands but into his very heart. And he carried it to the cross, even thought it meant he would lose his connection with the Father. He paid for our mistakes with his life. It was the only way to reconnect each of us to the Father.

“When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 NIV

To prove the payment was enough, he returned to life, defeating the power of death once and for all.

We can never walk the entire road Jesus walked. He alone could pay for our sins. But may we each be willing to follow in his footsteps wherever he leads us, sharing his life and his love with those who have never heard, those who scoff, and those who are angry.

Ben and Me

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V is for Value

V is for Value - Blogging through the Alphabet

I just finished watching Mom’s Night Out for the first time. I’ve been waiting to see it since I first heard all the buzz about it months ago. It’s a hilarious movie and one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. But it’s the underlying message that takes it beyond good, clean fun and makes it a movie worth watching again and again.

You  matter. You have value. You have worth.

Why do we doubt that? Several of my favorite words in all Scripture are found in Isaiah 43:1-5 (NIV):

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; . . . 
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you, . . .
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

He made me; He loves me. Nothing can ever change that. Will you pray with me for the women who haven’t heard or haven’t yet believed these words? Will we pray for the faith to truly believe them ourselves?

Ben and Me

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U is for the Unseen

U is for the Unseen

Have you ever felt unseen? Have you ever wished you were invisible?

I have. I remember wishing I could melt into the walls at school. I remember working in jobs where some workers were acknowledged and some were not. I remember the feeling of relief in both those places when I could slip away and hide myself for just a few moments. At least it was a break from the desire to run away or the knowledge that those you were with wouldn’t notice if you did.

Regardless of how unseen I wanted to be or that I felt, there was one truth that would not let me go. God saw me–and He loved me. Nothing else mattered. There was no where I could go where He could not see me (Psalm 139:7). And there was not a single moment when He wasn’t thinking of me (Psalm 139:17).

My parents taught me that truth about God and they demonstrated it with their lives and actions. But there are millions of men, women, and children living around the world today who do not know this to be true. They have never seen it. They have never heard it or been taught that there is a God who sees them and loves them. God’s eyes are on each and every one of us. He sees the little girl in the white dress in the photo above. He sees the little boy in the third row who is hiding behind his brother or good friend. He sees each one beyond the reach of the camera. His eye is on the sparrow (Luke 12:6-7); He knows the name of every one of His sheep (John 10:14-15).

Will you pray with me today that God’s love will reach every single person who feels or who has ever felt unseen?

Ben and Me

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T is for Trust

T is for Trust, Blogging Through the Alphabet

When I was growing up, I always equated trust with the belief that everything would be OK. But when my dad died while I was a teenager, my definition of trust got turned upside down. Nothing felt OK. It didn’t seem like anything would ever be OK again.

But as God has patiently worked in my life, I am beginning to see that trust isn’t simply believing everything will be OK. It’s knowing that it will be OK—someday. It’s the someday that can be so hard to wait for. There are times Jesus heals and restores a person physically. There are times He does not and they are not made whole again until they have died here on earth and are alive with Him forever.

It’s a theme shared often in the Bible. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol, God came down and rescued them. They left the fire unharmed. When John the Baptist was put in prison for daring to tell the king that he was living sinfully, he was beheaded.

And look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. He pleaded with God that if there was any other way, to please rescue Him and not make Him face this indescribably horrible death and the separation from God His Father that He knew would come with it. But there was no other way. And for a time, nothing in the entire universe was OK. Darkness fell. Rocks split. An earthquake shook the ground.

But then, after the longest, darkest three days His friends had ever endured, Jesus returned. He was alive and He had started the process of making everything right again. Is everything suddenly OK? No, but it will be. Someday.

And during the in between time? We wait. We pray. Sometimes we cry. Jesus did. God’s people do. This encouraging video from a pastor who was kidnapped and tortured reminds me of that each time I watch it. He felt fear, pain, anguish. He felt alone. God’s people are not superhuman, but by His grace and strength, and with the promise of His forgiveness when we fall short and doubt, we can trust and believe that it will be OK again. Someday.

Ben and Me

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S is for Shame

S is for Shame

Last week, I read a beautiful post by my dear friend Marcy Crabtree over at the Ben & Me blog. She talked about “real life,” resisting the urge to compare ourselves with the so-called perfection we see around us, whether it be online, on television, or wherever else we find it. This week, as I prayed and prepared to write this post, I read the story of Saachi, a woman who listened to the lies about how worthless she was and tried to kill herself. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we endlessly compare ourselves with other women, other families, other ideals?

Consider this – in the thousands of years of human history that span countless societies, the image of the “ideal woman” has consistently changed. Some societies valued small frames and delicate constitutions. Others valued women whose physique lent itself well to bearing children. Some societies idealized women who were warriors; others thought it shameful for a woman to have the role as protector. And fashion – the extremes are endless! In a few short hundred years, American society has valued everything from stretch jeans that squeeze one’s “rear view” into an impossibly small package to bustles that made it impossible to pass through the average doorway!

So where does that leave us? For the Christian woman, we often turn to Proverbs 31 to read of the values that endure and serve as a role model today. But let’s be honest – just reading that list on a day when you’re feeling less than your best leaves you exhausted and at times even feeling defeated. But don’t you see, we’re doing it again? We’re comparing ourselves with the “ideal” woman. That is not what we are called to do. Jesus didn’t tell us to look around and worry about what everyone else is doing. Do you remember what He said to Peter when Peter started wondering what God’s purpose for his fellow apostle John was? “…what is that to you? You must follow me.” 

Peter’s job wasn’t to look around; Peter’s job was to look to Jesus. Remember what happened when he took his eyes off of Jesus when he was walking on the water?

But don’t stop reading there. If you’re like me, you cringe when you think of the mistake Peter made because it reminds us each of the mistakes we make. Keep reading. Turn to Luke 7 and start reading again in verse 36. A woman came to Jesus. All she had to offer Him was her shame and her tears. Her life was a mess. Everyone knew it. There was no hiding it any more. She didn’t say anything, she just came to Jesus and wept at His feet. And what did Jesus say? “Your sins are forgiven . . . Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” What did He do? He forgave her and gave her peace.

May we each be as brave as she was and come to Jesus when all we have left to offer Him is our tears.

And may we have courage to believe Him when He says our sins are forgiven. He has paid for them with His blood. And He has given us peace.

Will we receive it?

Ben and Me

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Q is for Quicker Than Walking

Q is for Quicker Than Walking-Bicycles

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.

Ben and Me

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P is for Pure Water

P is for Pure Water

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?

Ben and Me

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