on my heart

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.

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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.

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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

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Story from the Mission Field: Leprosy

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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/)


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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.

I Will Proclaim His Faithfulness

“’I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’ I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”
– Psalm 40:8-10

At the end of 2013, I was praying and seeking what direction God wanted me to go after the intense year of growth and discipleship at SD Canada. God spoke His call to me through this passage, Psalm 40:8-10.

My heart’s cry was to do God’s will, and what was it He wanted me to do?

Above all, followers of Jesus Christ are called to know Him more fully and intimately. He calls us to surrender our lives to Him, holding nothing back (Luke 14:33), and to love Him above all (Matthew 22:37-39). And through Psalm 40:8-10, God showed me my call to proclaim His faithfulness.

My life isn’t about what I can accomplish for the Lord, because it’s really about what He has already done: His finished work on the cross of paying for the sins of the world and offering us the gift of salvation.

I desire for my life to be about Jesus:  100% surrendered to Him, no turning back.
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“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” –Philippians 1:21

There is no way I can ever repay Jesus for what He has done – saving me, adopting me, giving me eternal life – so all I can do is thank Him. And out of my love, I want to live for Him with everything I am.

I desire to PROCLAIM the faithfulness and steadfast love of the Lord through my life, and I want this blog to shout that loud and clear too.

This works alongside His call on my life to missions – and that’s a whole story in itself too. :)

I look forward to posting more on this blog, and hopefully starting conversations with you about the faithfulness of the Lord!  So tell me, what has the Lord been doing in your life this season?

Entering a New Season

Meet the January 2014 School of Discipleship Second Year Graduating Class! That’s quite the mouthful to say. :)

I had the privilege to walk through 2014 with these 13 men and women, with all the challenges and joys of being the very first SD2 class. We were affectionately known as the “guinea lambs”!

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First row: Joshua, Nathanael, Josiah, Christian, David, Jarius, Daniel | Second row: Natalya, Taylor, Lanae, Trula, me, Amanda, Sharlena

The Lord has taught me so much through this year and through my classmates. The various health struggles through  the year, moving from my hometown, adjusting back to being in the USA, new roommates, and an almost-overwhelming amount of homework… those things were all hard. But it seems like God works through hard things to teach me the most. He taught me trust, dependence, and faithfulness in the little things (a few of the many lessons).

Whether they realize it or not, my classmates taught me many things too. :) Perseverance. Passion for the lost and boldness to share the Gospel. Trust. Unity. Loving the differences in the Body of Christ. Patience. Commitment. Knowing God as our Father. Using our talents and creativity to glorify God. Joy. Putting others first.

We graduated from School of Discipleship on December 9th, and since we completed the second year of the program, we’ve really finished. Each of us are pressing on to what the Lord has called us to next; some to Bible college, some to overseas missions, some back home, and some coming back on staff at GFA. I’m one of those coming back on staff. I’m still here at Gospel for Asia since my family serves here, but it’s pretty different not being a student and not being around my classmates anymore.

My classmates and I are now entering a new season, and it most likely will hold more change, more transition, times of uncertainty, and struggles. But I know that we can walk with confidence in Christ, pressing on to know Him more and make Him known.

Read over this passage from Philippians and let it sink into your heart. And instead of just closing this window and clicking over to the next tab in your Internet browser, maybe open up God’s Word and spend some time with Him thinking about what He’s called YOU to do.

“Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.” – Philippians 3:7-14 (Phillips Translation)

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.”

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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.

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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.

Announcement: God’s leading for what’s next

Sometimes people ask me what I’m going to do after this year of School of Discipleship. In case you’re wondering that too…. I’m excited to announce that I have been accepted on staff with Gospel for Asia!

God has given me a passion for missions, and especially for India. Before and during our trip to South Asia last fall, the Lord confirmed that He wanted me to continue serving in ministry here at Gospel for Asia. Then, God directed me to be a student for another year, and this year has been an incredible time of equipping and growth. And now, the next step God showed me is staff, keeping on serving Him and helping to reach the lost in Asia!

My first year of SD in Canada pushed me out of the nest. I had to decide whether I wanted to follow Jesus and serve him because that’s what my family does, or because that’s what I was going to choose. And I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.

It’s a privilege to be part of a family who serves the Lord. Dad and Mom have been so influential in living out what it means to follow Jesus and to serve Him, and I’m so grateful for their example.

So what’s the plan? The big picture plan is to keep running hard after Jesus, with everything I’ve got. :) Also as I finish this SD year (by God’s grace!), I’ll work on raising support for staff.

Read more in my August/September newsletter…

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Find out how you can support me here.

Faithful to say what God called me to say

Words are a gift. We can use them to build up, or to tear down. We have been given our words, our voices, by the Lord. And He’s given our words to us to be good stewards of!
For me this means being speaking words that love and encourage and build up, rather than words that criticize or judge or tear down. And being a steward of my words means using them well. If God has given me a talent in writing or saying things, then I want to be a good steward of that.

I don’t consider myself a “writer”, and I never have. But in the past few years the Lord has given me so many opportunities to write, and to hopefully learn to do it well.
And I confess, I haven’t been a good and faithful steward of my words. I haven’t been faithful to write and to say some of the things God has put on my heart. And I’m sorry.
I know this blog isn’t big, but I want to be faithful to be a good steward of it.

Psalm 40:10 says, “I will proclaim your faithfulness in the great assembly.”

That’s my heart’s desire – to proclaim God’s faithfulness! I want to do this through my life, through my photos, and through my words. And I want this blog, this letter to you, to be something that glorifies God. Something that proclaims His faithfulness.
This past weekend I was at the Declare Conference; an amazing gathering of women who love the Lord and who write blogs. I was on the team that represented Gospel for Asia, the ministry that God has called me to be part of. It was a joy and a privilege to connect with amazing attendees and awesome sponsors (and I want to give a shout-out to CK Design Mission and Mercy House Kenya!)

Thomas, Sara, Natalya, Clara and I got to share about what God is doing in Asia through GFA, and share the plight of women. And we hosted a Veil of Tears movie night! If you didn’t get to be there, you can watch the trailer for Veil of Tears here or order a free movie kit like we had at the Gospel for Asia table here. (**update – these are real links now – sorry for not linking this up before!)

Not only did we go as sponsors, but we heard from 5 awesome ladies who were keynote speakers, and sat in on a few sessions. I loved hearing from Crystal Stine about building authentic community through social media, and was challenged to be authentic and real even in my personal Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram photos. So you’ll probably be seeing less “cup of coffee, perfectly styled” Instagrams. Which will be a good thing.

A few of my biggest take-aways from the Declare keynotes and sponsors:
• Let’s follow God in wild obedience even when it doesn’t all make sense, and we don’t see the whole picture yet (from Kristen Welch).
• Saying yes and faithfully obeying what God asks us to do IS success (from Lisa-Jo Baker).
• When taking photos, ask the questions “Am I telling the whole story? Does this give dignity to them? Am I giving or taking by taking this photo?” especially in relation to photojournalism (from Esther Havens, humanitarian photographer).

The theme at Declare this weekend was Wild Obedience. And another theme was being brave with your words. I got this awesomely applicable temporary tattoo from Armed with Truth! And also designed this image, inspired by what I learned from Jess Connolly and my sister Clara.

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This is like the ultimate link-up, mention-all-the-names post! I only go to a few blogging conferences though, so…

Here’s a few photos from the weekend:

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Gospel for Asia’s 35th Anniversary

35 years ago today, Gospel for Asia was founded by Uncle K.P. Yohannan. My family and I have been part of this ministry (this family!) for 12 1/2 years. It’s such a privilege to be in a community of people who love the Lord, who build up one another, and who are passionate about telling people in Asia about the salvation found only in Jesus. I have personally grown so much by growing up here, and by spending these years in the School of Discipleship. I am so thankful for my classmates, co-workers, teachers, and leaders who invest in my life. And God is continuing to work in our lives, and in the lives of thousands on the other side of the world. The best is yet to come!

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (one of my favorite verses) says, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

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Gospel for Asia’s website is www.gfa.org.

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.

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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!

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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.

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