gospel for asia

Girls at Street Children Home

This month I wanted to share a story from one of the street children’s homes we support. I got to visit this home for girls about a month after it opened in 2013. What an answer to prayer it was to see how God went before us to open this home!

At the time I was there, 6 girls had been rescued and were living there. Hearing their stories was heartbreaking. But seeing the hope and joy they had, now having a safe home to grow, heal and just be kids—how incredibly beautiful.

In a little while you’ll read the story of “Ashmita”, a young girl who was rescued from an abusive situation where she was forced to labor as a child.

Video by Elicia Christofferson

But first I want to share a special memory from my visit to this home. The girls loved having their photos taken (it seemed like every kid we met did!) The three youngest ones, including Ashmita, would crowd in front of my camera and say “Chapati!” each time I snapped a photo—just like American kids would say “Cheese!” for the camera. (Chapati is Indian flatbread similar to a tortilla.) I secretly got a video of those precious girls too. :)


Young Child Laborer Finds New Life

Reposted from Gospel for Asia

Photo from Gospel for Asia

It burned. Ashmita hurled her exhausted young body into the kitchen. Her eyes stung as she cried out in agony. Chili powder washed off her small cheeks in a red stream as she anxiously tried to recover from the new form of abuse. But the pain in her eyes couldn’t compare to the pain and confusion found in her young, tender heart.

A Living Nightmare

Ashmita doesn’t remember very much about her life before her father died. In fact, she hardly remembers her father at all. The only thing she remembers is he was ill and couldn’t eat spicy foods, and one day he was gone forever.

After his death, Ashmita and her mother moved into someone else’s house to do domestic housework. After a time, Ashmita’s mom sent her to live with another family as a servant. This became a living nightmare for Ashmita.

From morning to night she washed dishes, mopped floors and sometimes washed clothes. When she couldn’t do her work, they beat her legs with canes and slapped her.

“The house where I was staying . . . I was very much ill-treated,” Ashmita shared. “When everybody [went] to bed after food at night, the house owner used to watch television. While watching the television, she used to ask me to massage her legs. If I am tired, if my hands are hurting, she used to beat me and ask me to massage her properly. One night, when I was massaging her leg, I was very tired and sleepy, and while massaging, I slept off. She went to the kitchen and brought some pepper powder [chili] and put that pepper powder in my eyes.

“Once my mother called me,” Ashmita remembers. “She asked that [woman] whether [I was] around. Then she told lie to my mother, and she replied that ‘Ashmita is sleeping,’ while I was sitting with them. While she was talking to my mother, she motioned me not to speak and be quiet and continue the work I was doing.”

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

Ashmita’s mother was of no comfort to her daughter. When Ashmita was allowed to talk with her mom over the phone, the young girl cried and pleaded with her, asking her to take her out of the home she lived in. But her mom told her to do whatever they said. Even though her mom was not involved in her life very much, Ashmita missed her terribly and longed to escape the life she was living.

House of Refuge, House of Hope

When the local authorities found out about Ashmita’s situation, they rescued her from child labor and brought her to a GFA-supported home for abandoned and at-risk children. Now precious Ashmita is safe from abuse, pain and hopelessness. No longer forced to labor, she lives like a child should.

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

Ashmita plays with other children her age, bathes, receives daily meals, learns songs and dances with the other girls at the home. She attends school and likes it! She especially loves the staff who care for her, and the other girls who help her with her studies.

“I like this place so much; I like all these didis (older sisters). They work hard for me and for all of us,” Ashmita shared. “I like this place and I don’t [want] to leave this place and go to any other place or orphanage because of the love and care that we get here.”

Ashmita is thriving under the love she is receiving—love every child longs for.

Best of all, Ashmita has learned she is safe in the arms of Jesus. He saw her tears and knew the pain she felt in her heart. By His kindness and love, He brought her to this home. His love is found in the staff who daily look after and nurture the children who have been abused, abandoned, misplaced and forgotten, girls just like Ashmita.

“The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow.”—Psalm 146:9

Photo by Elicia Christofferson

Video Testimony: Living for Jesus

If I were to sum up what the Lord worked in my life through my two years in Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship program… (that’s really hard to sum up by the way)… two things stand out.

Jesus.

Living in light of eternity.

That’s what it’s really all about.

If you care to watch, here’s a short video the team made about my SD story.

One Year Anniversary

  One year ago today, I was accepted on staff at Gospel for Asia. Praise God; He is so faithful. This year has gone by so quickly, but has been so full of growth, challenges, tears, laughter and joy. I am grateful for Jesus’ love and the new life He gave me… And the privilege to serve at GFA and share the gift of Christ’s love with people who have never yet heard. The best is yet to come!

Update: I am serving full-time with Gospel for Asia!

From December 2014 until now, I’ve been in an “in-between” place while I am raising support to join staff with Gospel for Asia. The new pace of volunteering in the office, being at home, and spending time building relationships with my support team is very different from the student lifestyle, but the Lord has been teaching me so much during this time. He is growing me in surrender, patience, trust, walking by faith, and more that I am still figuring out. :)

This chapter is now coming to a close… GFA leadership gave the OK for me to start serving full-time in the office! I am very excited for this next step to serve as a home-team missionary and help reach the unreached in Asia. My first day as staff in the Web Department was April 20!

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Thank you so much for your prayers and support for me, from when I was just starting out as a student and now as I follow the Lord’s leading to come on staff with GFA.

You can read my April newsletter update to find out more about me serving as a home-office missionary and what’s been going on in my family and at GFA.

50percentPraise God for His faithfulness to provide!
My current support level is 50% of my monthly goal ($1450). The remaining amount of $725 can be broken down like this… seven people giving $100/month, or 14 people partnering with $50/month, or 28 people donating $25/month (which is less than $1 a day!) … or of course, any other combination. Find out more.

I am continuing to build partnerships and grow my support team to help reach the lost in Asia. Please pray for the rest of my support to be fully raised soon!

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father…” – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

Thank you for standing with me for the sake of the Gospel! It is a privilege to partner together to share the hope of our risen Savior with those who are still in darkness.

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Story from the Mission Field: Ruth

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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.

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

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.

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)

How we’re linked to the mission field

This short excerpt from my recent October Newsletter gives you a small glimpse of how GFA staff or students and their support team are linked to the mission field in South Asia.

I serve full-time in Gospel for Asia‘s Web Department, in addition to taking School of Discipleship classes. I don’t always explain much of what I do or how it’s linked with reaching Asia, so I want to take some time and do that.

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Right now the main things I work on are: GFA Canada social media (writing and posting several times a day) and Blog for Asia (a program for bloggers to use their voices to make a difference in Asia). I am also learning some web design, getting my toes wet with Google Adwords (advertising with Google), and helping make Veil of Tears follow up calls.

That gives you a small picture of my role in Web. By serving behind the scenes at Gospel for Asia, my life is linked with over 16,000 national missionaries serving in more than 10 Asian nations. I found this awesome explanation in the SD support brochure:

“Working in the ministry as a GFA School of Discipleship student, I represent more than 200 of these missionaries. My role behind the scenes is absolutely essential in helping win the battle for souls on the field. Think of it this way: The soldier who fights on the front lines has a team of people backing him up, keeping the supply lines open and enabling him to remain focused on the battle. Both the soldier and the team are equally important to the outcome of the war; one cannot survive without the other.”

To all those partnering with me, you are part of that team! Thank you.


To learn more about supporting me to come on staff with Gospel for Asia, visit www.gfa.org/ht/elch.

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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.