Power of the Meek

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need – Hebrews 4:16

The power of prayer is remarkable.  We have a God whom we can go to and ask for grace, mercy and help for others or ourselves and He will be more than happy to help us.  Jesus was always encouraging people to pray.  He told the story of the persistent widow who wearied the unjust judge until he granted her request.  Jesus made it clear that if an unjust judge could grant this woman her request, how much  more wouldn’t our loving Father grant ours.

When Santinu, a young boy from a poor village was diagnosed with a brain tumor, it must have seemed hopeless to his family and neighbors.  However, with God nothing is hopeless or impossible.  Through the prayers of Santinu’s friend, Sagan and a group of children from the Bridge of Hope Center, God demonstrated His awesome power.

 

Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place – 2 Chronicles 6:40

I watched this incredible video and saw how God moves mightily in what might seem like insurmountable situations.

My friends and I started praying together because I believe in Jesus and I believe He can heal – Sagan

I was moved by the persistent prayer of these children.  They went every day to Santinu’s home to pray for him.  Jesus instructed us to, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).  These children didn’t pray once and thought that was enough.  No, they prayed daily until God answered.  Their faith and trust in Him and their persistence impacted not only the sick boy’s life but the lives of others who needed healing too.

As I watched Santinu writhing in pain, I knew that God would intervene because He can’t stand to see anyone suffering.  It was His will to heal Santinu.  When I saw Santinu giving his testimony of how prayer had healed him, I couldn’t believe that it was the same boy.  He looked completely different.  He was no longer in pain.  He was no longer facing death.  God had blessed him with a new life, future and hope.

Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place – 2 Chronicles 7:15

It is God’s will to do so much for us.  All we have to do is ask.  God could have healed Santinu on His own but He chose to involve the children.  The children had seen the power of prayer in the lives of their teachers and as a result they followed their example.  I thought it was great how God decided to show Sagan and his prayer group that He will answer their prayers too in a mighty way.    Like their teachers, they got to see the power of prayer demonstrated in their own lives and in the life of Santinu.  People came to know the God who heals through children.

Have you seen the power of prayer in action?  My husband has!  Just the other day, he prayed to God about the pain in his leg.  The very day he prayed about it, God answered.  He can get in and out of the car without experiencing any pain.  Yesterday morning we spoke about it.  I said that God is just waiting to give us what we need.  All we have to do is ask.

God uses anyone to impact the lives of others.  He used Sagan and a group of children to show His love and mercy to those who didn’t know Him.  He used the meek.  These children acted in faith and humility, trusting in the power of the God they had learned about from their teachers at the Bridge of Hope.

This video showed me that as parents, teachers, we are to be godly examples to our children, training them up in the way they are to go so that when they are older they will not depart but will in turn teach the next generations by their example.

I will share this video with my seven year old son.  I want him to see that no matter how old or how young you are, God can use you to help others and that prayer is a very powerful tool.  Through prayer, God can use you to change lives, work miracles, move mountains and do the impossible.  It is important for children to know that as long as their prayers are from the heart, God will hear them and respond. Encourage them to pray every day.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bridge of Hope, visit this link.

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive – Matthew 21:22

Source:  Gospel for Asia;

Compassion in time of Devastation

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1

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Imagine what it would be like to have your home and livelihood destroyed by a natural disaster. This is what happened to the people in the Indian states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh when their homes were destroyed by Cyclone Phailin, one of the biggest natural disasters of 2013.

Jyotiranjan and his family were evacuated to a nearby school building where they waited for Cyclone Phailin to sweep through their village in Odisha.  Jyotiranjan recalls, “That night we did not sleep. The whole night we watched and wondered when the cyclone would be over.  When it stopped at 3 a.m., we went back to our house and found that it was destroyed and everything was lost.”

Officials estimated that the cyclone would cause extensive damage to the homes.  More than 800,000 homes were destroyed.  Jibu and his family lost their home and all of their belongings. How devastating it is to lose your home and all of your possessions.  When I watched news on natural disasters, it is heartbreaking to see the people crying because their homes which held so many precious memories were reduced to rubble.  They had lost a big chunk of their lives and they feel helpless and hopeless.

We can only imagine how Jihu must have felt when he lost his home and how thankful he was when he and his family received a home as part of Gospel for Asia’s Phailin Housing Project. He was moved to tears.  “We are a very poor family.  No one was there to help us when we lost everything during Phailin,” he said.  Even our own relatives did not help us.  But I am so happy that GFA helped me.  I am so grateful to the church.”

Gospel for Asia had provided homes for Jyotiranjan and 140 other people.  “We never expected a house to be rebuilt for us,” he said.  “Really, I am very glad, and I want to express my gratitude to God.”

Kalei lost her small cottage after Cyclone Phailin ravaged her village.  Thanks to the help of Compassion Service teams and those who provide relief, she was able to receive food.  She has since been able to rebuild her life in a new home.  “We were not able to rebuild a house (for ourselves, especially one) made of bricks and cement,” she said.  God, through GFA Compassion Services, blessed her with a new home.

Kalei stands in front of her new home with her daughter and grandson.

In addition to rebuilding homes, Gospel for Asia provided some of the survivors with sewing machines, carpentry tools and tin roof sheets so that they could earn a livelihood since their belongings were washed away.   Having new homes and earning a living has helped many of these families to experience firsthand, God’s love and mercy.  They survived Cyclone Phailin and now they were rebuilding their lives with His help.

I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works – Psalm 9:1

It is encouraging to see how God’s people shine like lights in the darkest hours.  Through acts of love and compassion, they bring hope and comfort to many.  Through their actions, they reflect the love of Jesus.

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If you would like to help Gospel for Asia in their work to reconstruct homes for those still in need, click here.  Together we can help to rebuild lives.  Together we can make a difference.

 

Sources:  Gospel for Asia; BBC News

Prisha’s Calling

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven – Matthew 5:16

I read Prisha’s story and was touched by the love and compassion she and the other women missionaries showed the people of Punya Basti.  The village was ready for harvest but there were no labourers until God sent Prisha.  She had heard about Punya Basti.

The residents lived in squalor, with no electricity, running water or toilets.  Can you imagine living in such conditions? Although most of the villagers left for months at a time to find low-paying work and beg in other areas, they were still unable to feed their children three meals a day.  They couldn’t afford to sent them to school.  Amidst the squalor, alcohol and drug abuse were major concerns.  Fights frequently broke out.  Animal carcasses and burning waste littered the place, creating a stench so horrific that made outsiders drive recklessly through the village just to get away from it.  Outsiders looked down on the villagers because of their low caste and lack of hygiene and education.

The outsiders remind me of the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ time.  No doubt they would have avoided this village like it were a plague.  They would never set foot in it.  They would put as much distance between themselves and it and condemn the people instead of having compassion on them.  What about us?  We might feel sorry for the people but are we willing to do something to help to change their circumstances?  If God were to call us to go to such a place and minister to the people and share the Gospel, would we be willing to go?  Would we find excuses like Moses? Or would we run in the opposite direction like Jonah?

What would Jesus do?  I think it’s fair to say that He would go into that village and stay with the people.  And I also think the apostle Paul would do the same.  Sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zone and sends us to places we would never dream of going but there are people there who just need someone to show that they care.

Prisha was called to go to Punya Basti.  She knew that no one else wanted to go.  Even as she might have had misgivings about being able to stick it out, she agreed to go.  Her leader suggested that she commute to the village from a safer nearby village where she would have more comfortable accommodations but Prisha refused.  She wanted to live among the villagers.

I don’t want to stay in a different place.  I want to stay in the midst of them, in the village, so I can understand their feelings . . . and they can understand the love that we want to show them.

How many of us would have been tempted to stay in the safer village and be more comfortable? Prisha wanted to be able to relate to the people so living apart from them was out of the question. Jesus went to those who were downtrodden, outcast, rejected and lost.  He was criticized for being with them.

No one said that it would be easy.   Thing were pretty bad.  The people rarely had baths or washed their clothes.  Just last night my son asked me if he had to take a bath.  If he had his way, he would skip bathing altogether.

Once Prisha’s landlord offered her and her fellow Sister of Compassion a glass of water.  Prisha was shocked when she looked at it.  It smelled so bad that they couldn’t drink from it.  This was not surprising because Gospel for Asia Pastor Hoob Kumar who served the village, mentioned that the women cooked and ate food out of dirty vessels.

Realizing the magnitude of what lay in front of them, Prisha and her co-worker spent their first week in prayer and fasting.  Then they found ways to help the villagers.  They started by sweeping out the village’s filthy drains.  At times, Prisha was overwhelmed by the filthiness of Punya Basti but she and the seven Sisters of Compassion who joined her resolved to embrace the villagers and share in their lives.   There are times when we feel overwhelmed and this is the time when the enemy will attack us but God gives us the strength to carry on.  He who calls us will equip us and will be with us.

Slowly we understood that if we don’t get to know them closely, we won’t be able to have relationships with them – Prisha.

The Sisters of Compassion helped the local women with their chores, took care of their babies and ate the food offered to them.  Can you imagine eating tortoise and mongoose?  Most of us would refuse to eat that but Prisha and her fellow workers didn’t.   Eventually, they earned the people’s trust. The villagers began to listen to and follow their advice.  The drinking and fighting stopped. Women once barely clothed, embarrassing Prisha were now dressing modestly.  They began to cook in healthier and cleaner ways.  The children started going to school and the Sisters of Compassion taught them how to bathe, brush their teeth, comb their hair and dress neatly–things that we and out children do everyday.  Great changes were happening in Punya Basti!

The Sisters were embraced by the villagers who began to see them as family because of the love these women had shown them.  Others had scorned them but these Sisters had shown them that there is a God who loved them and wanted to transform their lives.  It was not long before the people decided to follow the God who had sent the Sisters to them.  The love of Jesus permeates the village that had once been steeped in squalor, violence and discord.  They had received physical and spiritual cleansing.  The once filthy ground was now fertile.

Today, the vast majority of Punya Basti’s residents, numbering more than 1,000, proclaim faith in Jesus. Even when half of the village is away traveling for work, more than 200 people gather to worship Jesus each week, ready to learn more about the God who cared enough to send His daughters to live among them.

This story really inspired me.  A village that seemed beyond hope and redemption was transformed by a young woman who obeyed God’s call.  Through her and her fellow Sisters of Compassion, God reached out to the villagers, showing them that there is a better way.   She reflected God’s love and they responded.   I pray that when God calls us to serve Him in areas that others don’t want to go to, we will be like Prisha and simply obey.

Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” – Isaiah 6:8.

If you are interested in learning more about the work of Sisters of Compassion, watch this http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1” target=”_blank”>video.

Now Entering Filth and Fertile Ground

Source:  Gospel for Asia

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Mark 14:32-42

Remember the last time you were in a really bad place or in a tough situation and when you needed your friends the most, they weren’t there or they didn’t give you the support you desperately needed? Well, it happened to Jesus.

After the Passover meal, He and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  He took Peter, James and John with Him and it was then that He became troubled and greatly distressed.  He said to the three men, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.  Stay here and watch.”  Now imagine that you are one of these men, and you can see that your Master is very upset and He asks you to stay there and watch” what would you do?  Would you go and sit under a tree where you end up falling asleep because you have had a long day and are tired or would you move about so that you can stay awake?

Jesus went a little farther and fell on the ground where He prayed that if it were possible that the Father might take the cup away from Him but resolved that He would do the Father’s will.  When He returned to the three disciples, they were sleeping.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping?  Could you not watch one hour?”  Why did He address Peter specifically?

When Jesus had predicted that the disciples would be made to stumble because of Him, Peter had declared that while the others might stumble, he would not.  He vowed that he would not deny Jesus and would willingly die with Him.  Yet, here he is not available when Jesus needed him.  Like the other two, he was asleep instead of being awake and watchful as Jesus had asked them to be.  How is it that even after Jesus had shared with them how He was feeling at that moment, that they weren’t there for Him?

When the storm raged while He slept on the boat, they woke Him, asking “Master don’t you care that we will perish?”  What about the storm that Jesus is going through now.  Didn’t they care?  Why couldn’t they have watched with Him?  Why couldn’t they have prayed among themselves for what He was going through?  Jesus later told them, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.  The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”  He told them to do two things–watch and pray.  Be alert and pray.  Yet, when He returned, they were sleeping.  When Jesus comes again, will He find us watching and praying or sleeping?

How would you feel if your closest friends didn’t stand by you in your hour of need as the disciples didn’t stand by Jesus in His hour of need?  They were physically there but their lack of support left Him all alone in His agony.  Do you find that when you need your friends to be there for you, they are asleep?  In other words, do they seem oblivious to what you are going through?  Perhaps, like Jesus, you have to tell them what you are going through and ask them to pray for you.

Plead for the Widows

They still hope when they die, that their son probably will come and light their pyre.  A son who breaks your legs, a son who hits you so hard that your skull breaks, a son who is willing to put cow dung in your mouth – and yet you want the same son to come and light your pyre. We need to break that mind-set also, somewhere – Winnie Singh, social activist

I was searching the Internet to see what I could find out about the quality of life for widows in India and was shocked.  After losing their husbands, they are faced with a life of begging and destitution.  Some of them are thrown out by family members.  One widow was beaten by the sons she had raised when she asked them for money.  In-laws refuse to help some widows while others can’t go back home because their parents are too poor to take them back.

Widows face discrimination and are dehumanized.  They are called “it” and in some instances, they are referred to as “randi” which means prostitute in Punjabi.  Some of them marry their brothers-in-law because being man’s property protects them from being raped.

A widow is blamed for her husband’s death.  “You are widowed because you did something wrong in your previous life: that is the view in this predominantly Hindu culture,” explains Dr. Leelavathi Manasseh of the Bible Society. “So, whether a widow is from a rich or poor background, she faces blame, mistreatment and rejection by her family. Many are kicked out of their homes and left to fend for themselves and their children, leaving them in a desperate situation.”  It’s worse when a woman loses her husband to AIDS and she tests positive for HIV.  She is met with even more rejection and ridicule.

In Northern India, there is a place called, “Widow City.”  It is the holy city of Vrindavan.  Widows go there because they believe that if you die there, you would be freed from the cycle of birth and death and obtain moksha (emancipation). It is a place where these women can get away from a life of isolation and the society where they have no place or value.  They are there because they were cast out families who don’t want to pay for them or by in-laws who don’t want them to inherit money or property.  They are ostracised by their villages.  They have lost their income.  They are at the bottom rungs of society and are prevented from remarrying.  In Vrindavan, they pray at the temples and beg. Other widows go there, as pilgrims, intending to dedicate their remaining years to serving the deities Krishna and Radha.

Life for a widow is hard.  When their husbands were alive, they were protected but once they were gone, these poor women felt like orphans because they had no one to take care of them or help them.  They were all alone.  Perhaps this is why in the Bible, orphans and widows were always paired together because they were defenceless, society’s vulnerable.  God wants us to plead for the widows.  Defend their rights to a future filled with hope and dignity.  God made it clear that He is “Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans” (Malachi 3:5).

While society sees widows as a curse, God sees broken, abused, mistreated and unloved women whom He wants to enter into a loving relationship with.  Their families don’t want them, but God wants them to be a part of His family.

Like so many widows, Netramani was cast out and left to fend for herself.  “I was completely alone. … No one would give me work so I had to beg. … I had nothing to eat, nothing to wear. I was completely senseless and didn’t know anything. . .”

Watch Netramani’s heart-wrenching story and imagine either you or someone you know lying there, sick and helpless and no one stops to help.

…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ – Matthew 25:35-40.  

June 23 is International Widows’ Day, a day when we step into the lives of widows and imagine the desperate places where they find themselves.  Some commit suicide rather than face the shame.  Others turn to prostitution.  Mothers resort to rummaging through the trash in order to feed themselves and their children.  These women don’t deserve to be like this.  You can change this. Through your donations you will make it possible for local pastors to help widows in need, buy them sewing machines, farm animals, or much-needed supplies like winter blankets, water filters and other essentials.  And with your generous gift, these women will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and His love and compassion for them. To find out more about how you can help, visit http://www.gfa.org/women/widows/

As Christians, we need to demonstrate the love of Christ who reached out to those who were hurting, oppressed and ostracised.  He loved the unloved and valued those whom society deemed worthless. Together let us plead for the widows.  Let us take up their cause.   They have the right to keep their homes, their income and their dignity.  Let us contend with those who mistreat them.  Let us speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.  When we do good to others, we honour God.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widowsIs God in His holy habitation – Psalm 68:5.

Sources:  Gospel for AsiaTime.com; Women Under Seige; The Laws of Manu; BBC.com; Cross Map; India: Widow City; BBC News

Bridge of Hope

When your child comes to you and says, “I’m hungry,” you stop whatever you are doing and you find something for him or her to eat.  Sadly, children in South Asia are crying out, “I’m so hungry, but there’s no food. Not even in the garbage.”  For many of them hunger, poverty and mistreatment have become a way of life.  No child should go without food or face a future without hope.  Thankfully, God has heard their cries and has provided help and hope through Gospel of Asia’s Bridge of Hope program.

Parents across Asia struggle to provide for their families. Children grow up illiterate, uneducated and taught they are worthless. More than 20 million boys and girls are trapped in social evils like child labor and prostitution in order to support their family.

Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope turns these situations around for good. Children are educated and nurtured. Families experience Christ’s love. More than 60,000 children have been helped so far and thousands of families have found faith in Christ as a result.

I encourage you to take a few moments and watch the Bridge of Hope video and see how children across Asia are being rescued.  Find out more about the program at http://www.gfa.org/sponsorachild/

You too can make a difference.  You can give hope to a child and enable Jesus Christ’s love to reach a family in Asia.  You can bring hope to those in despair and help to those in need.  Sponsor a child today so that he or she could have a bright future and experience the love of Jesus.  May God bless you as you help these children.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – John 10:10

God’s Got Your Back

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you” (Isaiah 41:13).

This shows just how personal God gets with His creation.  He is not some Being up in heaven who looks down at us to see what we are up to.  He is very much involved and interested in our lives.  He cares what happens to us.  He wants us to know that He is there for us whenever we need Him.  He is the loving Father who reaches out to us and takes our hand when we are troubled, afraid or helpless.  He is the One who helps us through any trial or tribulation. 

He is the God who is “our shelter, and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, TEV).

Don’t worry about anything.  God’s got your back.  He is there ready to step in as soon as you call to Him.