Blog for Asia

My Interview with Gospel for Asia founder KP Yohannan

Elicia Christofferson, Gospel for Asia web director, interviewing founder Dr. KP Yohannan

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. KP Yohannan and talk with him about a recent visit to the Mumbai slums. I visited GFA’s Bridge of Hope project there in 2010; at that time there were just four centers helping 100-200 kids each. Now, there are 32 Bridge of Hope centers!

Here is an excerpt from Dr. KP Yohannan’s blog about some of the things we talked about during the interview.


K.P.’s Visit to the Mumbai Slums: Trusting God for These Precious Children

But I cannot forget these slums. I am compelled by God to do all I can to help the brothers and sisters who live and labor there because they, too, are compelled by same love from God—not for the slums, but for the slum dwellers. I go back to the slums because my heart breaks for these precious people whom the world would rather forget. And the children, they are born innocents but will face great difficulties ahead if someone does not reach them with hope for the future.

Let me tell you what I mean.

This last visit, I was at one of the centers supported by GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program in this slum. Not too long ago, there were just four Bridge of Hope centers in this area. Now there are 32. Te one I visited has 128 students. It is amazing what God is doing in these centers.

During my time there, I got to visit the children’s math class and help to serve their lunch.

“Dayita” is around 8 years old

This one little girl in the fourth grade—I’ll call her Dayita—brought us to visit her home. Both of her parents have died, so she lives alone with her grandmother, who is a widow. It’s just the two of them in a 10’ by 12’ space made of makeshift tin sheets. The living room, the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom are the same room. I cannot tell you how it hurts me to see anyone living like this. We make better houses for our dogs. Yet, would you believe, Dayita’s grandmother must pay rent to live in such a place? Yes, it’s true—1,500 rupees a month (about $23 USD).

That means that she has to work to feed and house the two of them. She told me that she works seven days a week to make ends meet. She makes what little money she can by going from home to home outside the slum, washing clothes and dishes from early in the morning until late in the day. Every day. Just to survive and to provide shelter and food for Dayita.

So, I wonder, what will become of Dayita?

Her grandmother told me, “If the Bridge of Hope center was not here, this, my little girl, may be begging on the streets.” She said Bridge of Hope was the only hope Dayita had to grow up as a human being.

And yet, it’s so hard to predict what will happen to her as she grows up in the slums. Bridge of Hope can provide education, healthcare and nutrition. And we can pray. No, we must pray, because before we know it, Dayita will be a young teenager. This can be a life-changing time for girls in poverty-ravaged communities. It happens across many parts of the world where young girls—13 and 14 years old—are married off or sold into prostitution. Bridge of Hope is helping to rescue many girls from this plight, but the danger doesn’t always disappear immediately.

There are so many living in situations like Dayita’s. It is a story repeated over and over. … Meeting Dayita and her grandmother reminds me that we cannot predict what lies ahead for any of them. And yet, we must do whatever we can when the Lord gives us the chance. I told Dayita’s grandmother, “Please know, as much as she can study to become a medical doctor, an engineer or whatever, we will be there with you and help.”

What will happen to Dayita five years from now? I do not know. …That is why we trust Jesus. Before the world began, the Lord knew this little girl, and He knew we would end up in that slum. And the Lord knew that we would care. He knew about each person who would become part of her journey through prayer and assistance. He has Dayita’s future under control, and He has ours under control, too. His plans for us are good (see Jeremiah 29:11). Knowing that He has our future planned, that it is good, and that He alone is in control—that is our hope. That is why we must not worry, but trust—for our future and for Dayita’s, also.


They also made a short film about Bridge of Hope in Mumbai. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen to give a real look inside a BOH center.

Story from the Mission Field: Ruth

you-should-have-been-a-boy-2

I’d like to introduce you to a woman named Ruth. She is one of four daughters, just like me, but she lives on the other side of the world. Life is difficult for women in South Asia. The oppression starts before birth, when mothers are often pressured into abortions if they are expecting a baby girl. Among young women in India, the suicide rate is many times the world average. When a South Asian woman becomes a widow, she can be blamed for her husband’s death.

Ruth is not a boy, and her parents hated her for it.

After the family had three daughters, Ruth’s parents paid a local priest to pray that their next child would be a boy. Then Ruth was born. Rather than the carefree play and learning that I experienced growing up, Ruth’s childhood was filled with hard work. She described herself as a “beggar for love.” When Ruth finally worked up the courage to ask her father the reason for his hatred, he shouted, “You should have been a boy!”

This story brings me to tears every time. I ask again, “Why was I born in this country? Why has God allowed me to be so privileged?”

I am one of four daughters, like Ruth, and my parents love every one of their girls. They don’t feel cultural pressure to have a son, or that having daughters is an extra burden on the family. My parents love me, just like Jesus does. Because Jesus treasures women with the same equality and love that He has for every person on earth.

I know He has a purpose in placing me right here, right now. Because of that, I believe I have the responsibility to share His love with people like Ruth who desperately long for hope.

By the way, Ruth’s story doesn’t end in pain and heartache – God brought restoration in her relationship with her father! Ruth now shares the hope she found in Jesus with other women, reaching out just like a Gospel for Asia women missionary team first reached out to her.

TD13-00031

Learn more of Ruth’s Story at www.gfa.org/women/ruth.

 


Update from 2017:

Recently, Ruth got married, on May 11, 2017! Our photojournalist ran into Ruth earlier this year when covering some other mission field assignments. Ever since she encountered Jesus, Ruth has been serving in ministry discipling and mentoring other women. She and her husband plan to continue serving in ministry together. Please pray for God’s blessings on their marriage!

World Water Day

#WaterIs life. Today is World Water Day, and we can turn our attention to the thing that most of us take for granted every single day… Water.

Around the world, 750 million people have zero access to safe drinking water, let alone clean water to bathe in or wash their clothing. Women around the world spend a collective 200 million hours gathering water. Every minute, a child dies because of a water-related disease like diarrhea because they lack safe sanitation. About 65% of the people who live in rural India do not have access to a toilet.

clean water 3

Especially on my heart are the needs in South Asia, where millions are dying because they do not have clean water. What does “not having clean water” look like in their lives? From some of the stories I have heard while working at Gospel for Asia… not having running water in their houses. Walking to collect heavy gallons of water, several times a day. Waiting in line at a village well; sometimes being banned from using that well because of their caste or religion. Depending on water from a tanker truck that comes through the village, which may not have enough for everyone. Because of the scarcity of clean water, drinking whatever water is available, however dirty it may be.

And one of the worst situations: Bathing yourself, taking the cows for a drink, washing clothes, and getting drinking water from the same stagnant pond.

Each statistic and each horrible story resounds like a hammer nailing the coffin of this water crisis.

clean water 1

I believe the Lord allowed me to be born in this place, in this time, for a reason. He purposed for me to grow up as one of four daughters, enjoy the privileges of literacy, education and equal rights that so many women around the world do not have. He even sovereignly planned that I would have such free access to clean water. My life, here and now, has a purpose. I believe that because God has given me these privileges. It’s my responsibility –and my privilege– to give back to others. Not only giving back to make a social difference, but to meet the needs of people on a deeper level. Yes, people are dying because of a lack of clean water… but people are dying and going to hell, every time my heart beats. Sharing the eternal hope that Jesus Christ freely offers is my privilege.

Today, March 22, is World Water Day. People need water, and people also need the love of Jesus. Enter Jesus Wells, part of Gospel for Asia’s clean water ministry in South Asia, that provide fresh, pure drinking water to entire communities, regardless of caste or religion ($1400). Or the small but mighty BioSand Water Filter that uses sand, gravel, and concrete to provide water that’s 98% pure for a family ($30). We can’t forget about sanitation… That’s why GFA provides Outdoor Toilets to families and communities, preventing disease and providing a safe place to use the bathroom ($160). I read on water.org that for every $1 that’s invested in water and sanitation projects there is a $4 economic return. That’s pretty cool. But even better, clean water ministry can have an eternal impact. Through the provision of clean water, many communities are becoming more open to hearing about the God who loves them and provides for their needs!

I encourage you to take action this World Water Day. Pray about these things. Jesus has the victory already, and He wants to use us to touch the lives of others.

You can find out more about Gospel for Asia’s clean water ministry here.

*statistics via Gospel for Asia, water.org, UNICEF, and this infographic


 Working with Gospel for Asia bloggers in our Blog for Asia program has been such a privilege! I’m inspired by what several of them have also shared about World Water Day:

“How vital is water?  Without water I’d die in three days.” – Justin

“We can help though. I never want my personal comfort to add toward indifference in a world where I can make a difference.” – Chelsea

“Let us also make this a day of action, a day we can show water is love.” Nicole

“Investing in human beings for the sake of Jesus is something that will last into eternity.” – Amanda

clean water 2

Story from the Mission Field: Leprosy

MB-Pics-2066

When I was on a Gospel for Asia vision tour in South Asia a year and a half ago, I met a woman named Mina, who was affected by leprosy. Mina told me her story.

She had suffered from the disease for 40 years, and lived for most of that time in colonies with other people suffering from leprosy. Her husband had died, and her son lived outside the colony, only visiting occasionally. To earn some money to pay for her medication, Mina had to beg. Every day from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., she would beg outside a local religious site.

This visit to the leprosy colony was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Most of society has shunned these people, and there was so much suffering, so much despair. But we met a group of missionaries who loved and cared for the leprosy patients. They ministered to their needs in both practical and spiritual ways, like cleaning their wounds and praying for them. We saw a glimpse of hope being poured out.

Hope in this place of suffering is almost a paradox. Mina, the woman I met, smiling with genuine joy? The men and women who said they were encouraged by our team’s visit? A man who prayed to the same God I worship? But it’s true. And it’s only because of the love of Christ working through the missionaries serving there; His love touching the lives of the suffering; His love displayed through my team members.

I’d like to leave you with this quote from Pastor Jiva, a missionary who started leprosy ministry in another region of South Asia.

“’It is because of God’s grace that we have the strength, courage and motivation to work among these people, to share with them, to hug them, to love them and to care for them,’” – Pastor Jiva

(Quote from http://www.gfa.org/news/articles/compelled-by-love/)


world-leprosy-day-banner
World Leprosy Day was observed on January 25, 2015. Although leprosy is foreign to daily life for many of us, thousands still suffer from the disfigurement and devastating social stigma caused by this disease. In 2013, 215,557 new cases of leprosy were diagnosed globally. More than half of these were in India. (source: World Health Organization)

Dedicated missionaries like Pastor Jiva are reaching out to people afflicted by leprosy in South Asia, touching their lives with the love and care of Christ. This ministry takes place not only on World Leprosy Day, but also on every other day of the year. We can be part of impacting their lives with hope, too! Visit Gospel for Asia’s Leprosy Ministry page here.

One life at a time

Have you ever heard the story of the boy and the starfish? As the tale goes, many starfish were washed upon a beach by the tide, and would soon die from the sun and lack of water. A little boy walked down the beach, picking up starfish and tossing them back into the water, saving lives one by one. A man walked by and saw the starfish rescue operation, and told the boy, “You’ll never finish, there are too many to save them all.” In reply, the young boy tossed another starfish back into the life-giving water, and said, “I made a difference for that one.”

starfish

When we hear big numbers like ‘2 out of 5 people have never heard of Jesus’ or that 2.5 billion people are still unreached, it’s easy to think, “How can we ever make a difference?” and I’m right there with you.

I traveled to South Asia last fall, and I was struck by how many unreached people filled every square mile. It was overwhelming. How could we ever reach them? These kind of thoughts filled my mind while I was visiting a Bridge of Hope center in a densely populated city.

BOH one life

But then, this little boy got up to share his testimony. With a mischievous smile on his face, he told us that he used to be a naughty boy. Going to the Bridge of Hope center totally changed his life, and he’s not naughty anymore.

The Lord gently spoke to my heart through this boy’s testimony, and I learned a lesson similar to the other little boy and the starfish. What He said was this: there are many yet to be reached, but every single life that is touched and changed matters.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells us there is great rejoicing in heaven over every soul who comes into the kingdom! And I think there must also be great rejoicing over every child whose life is changed, every person who decides to live in light of eternity, and every family who finds hope.

 “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I wrote down this story of what the Lord has been teaching me originally to send to the bloggers who are part of our Blog for Asia team. However, I wanted to share it here on my blog too. This was one of the lessons the Lord taught me during our trip to South Asia, and it’s a good reminder that what I can do to help reach the lost, even in a small way, really does make a difference.

I hope to share more Faces of South Asia with you in the coming weeks, and show you glimpses of my trip last September.

Grateful for my Mom

coffee with mommy jan 2014Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and it’s awesome to have a day set aside just for Mom. I need to tell my Mom how much I love her every day though, not just on Mother’s Day! Moms love and serve so much – they raise the kids, change the diapers, make meals, and take care of us, and often my Mom ends up serving people behind the scenes. It’s wonderful to have Mother’s Day and say, “Okay Mom, this day is for you. You can’t do the dishes; you can’t make the food; we’ll clean the kitchen. We just want you to know you’re loved today.”

My Mom has taught me so many things: how to sew, how to cook food, how to drive, how to treat other people, and how to love the Lord. She has been so influential in teaching me to follow Jesus, and I’m so grateful for her Godly example. And another big part of my upbringing was being a staff kid at Gospel for Asia, which I’m also so grateful for.

This year, Gospel for Asia has the goal to see 2,000 Bridge of Hope children sponsored before Mother’s Day. So, why child sponsorship for Mother’s Day?

Parents in Asia want to love and provide for their kids, just like parents here do, just like my Mom and Dad do. But so many families are trapped in poverty, and the fact that they’re not able to provide for their kids is heartbreaking. They can’t afford to feed them and to send them to school. They struggle just to put one meal on the table each day. My heart hurts to see this reality faced by impoverished families and moms.

That’s why Gospel for Asia wants to see children rescued through Bridge of Hope. Because when a child is enrolled in Bridge of Hope, it doesn’t just impact that little boy or girl – it touches the whole family.

mothers-day

Imagine being a Mom unable to provide for your child, just like these Moms in South Asia. And then someone comes and helps your child out of this life of poverty, sends them to school, gives them nutritious meals and medical checkups, and then tells them it’s because of Jesus who loves and values them. Imagine how grateful you would be!

And that’s what this Mother’s Day campaign is about. You can honor your Mom here by sponsoring a Bridge of Hope child for her, and you can give a mother in South Asia the hope of her child being helped. That’s a Mother’s Day gift better than roses and sweeter than chocolate! :)

It’s so exciting to see that over 700 children have already been sponsored. Seven hundred precious, unique individuals who are receiving hope and learning that Jesus loves them!

mothers-day-countdown

Happy Mother’s Day! Tell your Mom how much she means to you this weekend, give her a hug and a kiss, and consider checking out Gospel for Asia’s Mother’s Day campaign at www.gfa.org/mom to see how you can help rescue a child.

BOH-mothers-day-image

Rescue a Child

The Puzzled Owl

Rescue a Child

None of us want to hear a child say, “I’m so hungry, but there’s no food. Not even in the garbage.” Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, we have the opportunity to practically help the children of Asia and provide hope for the future.

Sponsoring a child for $35 a month fills their tummies with a nutritious meal every day, saturates their minds with an education, prevents simple health issues with a yearly medical check-up and gives them a friend in Jesus who they can rely on in every life situation they may face.

This year for Mother’s Day, Gospel for Asia is praying in faith for 2,000 children to be sponsored. I currently sponsor 7 of these adorable kiddos and would love to sponsor more, but at this moment financially, I am not able to help more. But you can!

Embrace a child in Jesus’ name

View original post