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Archive for November, 2013

GFA Relief Shipment Received in Yangon

November 29th, 2013 Comments off
Myanmar Congregation

This is one of the many congregations pastored by GFA missionaries in Myanmar that will now become centers for cyclone relief efforts.

 

Gospel for Asia’s first shipment of cyclone relief supplies has arrived in Myanmar (Burma) and has been received by GFA officials.

“Because of our previous service to the nation in times of such need, our national leader has a good reputation among government leaders, and the local churches are held in high regard,” explained GFA President and Founder K.P. Yohannan. “As a result, the government has agreed to allow GFA Church to not only bring in supplies, but also to make sure they reach the people who are in such desperate need.”

Even though there have been several reports in the international media of aid materials being diverted, GFA has been assured that these will get to those in need.

In addition to the medical supplies that were flown into the Yangon (Rangoon) airport, GFA Church is also shipping food to the disaster-struck nation.

“Please pray that all of these supplies will get into the hands of the people who need them the most,” Yohannan pleaded. “I also ask that Christians offer prayer that the government leaders will give greater freedom to help the hurting in remote areas.”

In what he described as a near-miracle, the Myanmar government has also given special permission to GFA Church to open medical clinics in its church compounds.

“This is a very unusual situation,” Yohannan said, “and it is good because we have 400 churches in Burma, and many are in the most affected areas. Of course we cannot minister to everyone who is suffering as a result of this disaster, but we will do everything we can to help everyone we can.”

Yohannan said the most pressing need at these clinics is for trained medical personnel.

GFA Bible College in Yangon

These students were welcoming a guest to the GFA Bible college in Yangon. The Bible college is now a shelter for cyclone survivors.

“I am asking people to pray that God would lead us to Burmese doctors and nurses who are already in the country, since so far the government has not allowed outsiders to come in and work,” Yohannan said.

Yohannan also revealed that the GFA Church leader in Myanmar has asked to open an orphanage to care for more than 90 children now in his church’s temporary care.

“Could you please allow us to pick up the pitiful children who have lost their parents in the cyclone,” he pleaded. “They have no families and are completely alone.”

Yohannan said permission had been granted and that the children will be cared for.

GFA workers have been actively involved in the relief effort since a few hours after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in the predawn hours of May 3. The work started in the GFA Bible college in Rangoon, where people sought shelter in the badly damaged, but still usable, buildings. A few days later, GFA workers spread their efforts to other parts of the storm-ravaged country.

The Bible college is still being utilized as a shelter. A portable generator there has made it possible to draw clean, fresh water out of the campus well. The water is being bottled and distributed to those who so desperately need it. At night, the missionaries are using portable projectors to show an Indian-made film about Jesus.

Buddhist

More than 80 percent of Myanmar’s 46 million residents adhere to the Buddhist religion.

Missionaries are focusing their attention on the two major needs of the people.

“The people are asking for water to drink and rice to eat. Starvation is the major problem right now,” Yohannan said.

GFA Church has additional medical and food shipments on the way to the country, and more than 300 students from GFA’s Bible colleges, along with missionaries and volunteers, are mobilized to get food and clothing to the storm survivors.

News reports from inside Myanmar put the death toll at 38,491. The United Nations estimates that more than 60,000 people perished because of the storm.

The International Red Cross says the dead could number as high as 127,900.

“No matter what the official number is, we must remember that each of these people was a soul precious to God. In the same manner, we must continue to help the millions of survivors. They need to hear that they are beautiful in God’s eyes,” Yohannan said.

Weather-related troubles may not be over for the people of Myanmar. Heavy rains have been falling on the country for several days and the annual monsoon season is just a few weeks away.

The foul weather may complicate the distribution of some emergency supplies, but it will not be cause for the relief efforts to stop. GFA’s 500 native missionaries in Myanmar will continue to serve their fellow countrymen, long after the crisis disappears from the headlines.

“Rebuilding Myanmar could take years. And since our missionaries, churches and Bible college students are indigenous, they are there for the long haul,” Yohannan said.

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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Bombs Blast Jaipur

November 15th, 2013 Comments off

 

Jaipur

Jaipur, Rajasthan, is often called the “pink city” due to its many salmon-colored palaces and buildings.

On May 14, seven bombs blasted a busy market area just a few miles from a Gospel for Asia Bible college and a Bridge of Hope center in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The attack killed more than 80 people and injured more than 200 others. The explosions did not harm any Bible college or Bridge or Hope staff members or students.

Authorities say a terrorist group tied the bombs to bicycles and placed them in a heavily populated market place. The bombs detonated within a 20 minute period starting at 7:20 p.m. An eighth bomb did not detonate.

Although no one has officially taken responsibility for the attacks, police suspect that Islamic extremists are to blame. Tensions have been high between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the area, and the bombings happened near a popular Hindu temple in Jaipur.

GFA leaders in Rajasthan request prayer for the victims and their families. They also ask for prayer that the terrorists will receive the love of Christ.

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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Forced to Marry Unbeliever

November 8th, 2013 Comments off

 

Weddings where Tamarai lived were several-day affairs filled with color, tradition and family. For Tamarai, though, her wedding was just a countdown to the day she was banished to the home of someone she was desperate not to marry. She had grown up knowing a forced marriage was possible, but this man didn’t even follow the same religion.

Tamarai felt helpless when her parents forced her to marry a man who, in turn, expected her to convert to his religion.

As if their faith meant nothing, Tamarai’s Christian parents expected her to give up Jesus for this man’s gods. Feeling like she had no other choice, that’s exactly what she did.

Parents Give Daughter to Unbelieving Man

Despite living in a part of the world where being a Christian carries heavy risks, Tamarai’s parents still claimed the Christian faith as their own—even though they never took it seriously. They were safe in their own community, so they attended church and said they followed Christ. When it came to making decisions, however, God was far from their minds.

In South Asia, families have a variety of reasons to ignore their daughter’s input on whom she marries. A well-connected husband can bring status and honor to a family. Lesser husbands at least rid families of “extra mouths to feed.”

Tamarai’s parents should have known better, but marrying their daughter to this man would help solve their problems. Unfortunately, it was only the beginning of Tamarai’s.

New Gods Bring Hardship

After Tamarai married Paandu, she dutifully began following his religious traditions and worshiped his gods. She had never received much from her parents’ nominal faith, but these new gods seemed bent on making her miserable.

Her new husband wasn’t home much. He worked all day and spent his nights drinking alcohol. Meanwhile, Tamarai began suffering dizzy spells and pain throughout her body. Her doctor didn’t know what was wrong, and her health worsened every day.

Still, Tamarai told herself she couldn’t simply trade in these new gods for another. As the years passed, she had two children, whose care added to the problems of her alcoholic husband and unexplained illness. Who had time to switch religions a second time? Besides, how would Paandu react?

Even if another god could heal her, she was stuck—unless someone could show her a way out.

After she began worshiping her husband’s gods, Tamarai suffered an illness her doctors couldn’t cure.

Woman Seeks Answers in Secret

Wahab, a recent Bible college graduate, and Ibraheem, a Bible college intern, were new to full-time ministry, but they didn’t hesitate when a local believer asked them to visit a woman named Tamarai who had been sick for more than a decade.

“We are serving the Lord, and we came to know that you have not been well for a long time,” they said when they arrived at her door. “We would love to pray for you.”

After they prayed, Tamarai began pouring out her life’s story to them.

“I was born and brought up in a Christian family, but my parents had no fear of God in their lives,” she began. “They were living a worldly life. Due to that, there was no blessing in our family.”

As Tamarai told her story, the men listened thoughtfully, and then told her to put her faith in the Lord and not lose heart.

“Our God will make all of this right in His time,” they said.

Tamarai was encouraged and asked them to come back. When Paandu found out, he forbid any more visits, but Tamarai continued inviting her friends in secret and began attending fellowship meetings.

The men gave her a Bible, which Paandu also forbid her to read, but Tamarai couldn’t be dissuaded. As Wahab and Ibraheem continued to pray for Tamarai to have true faith in Jesus, she began to change—and her pain began subsiding, too.

Still, the young men wanted to see God do more in Tamarai’s life—to know she wouldn’t revert to the nominal faith of her parents or give it up completely when more pressure came. This time, they wanted her to have faith that couldn’t be shaken.

A Bible college student and a recent graduate encouraged Tamarai to trust Jesus despite her husband’s opposition.

Woman Stands Firm in Faith

Wahab and Ibraheem had equipment to show a film about the life of Jesus, and they began fasting and praying for the opportunity to show it in Tamarai’s home. One day, while Paandu was out, they got their chance.

As Tamarai and 15 others watched, she felt the Lord speaking to her heart, calling her to love Him. From that day on, there was no question: Her faith would encompass her entire life.

Tamarai began spending time in prayer and rejoiced as Jesus brought her complete spiritual and physical healing.

Seeing his wife healed after a decade of suffering, Paandu stopped voicing his objections to her new faith, and he even came to church a couple of times.

Tamarai prays that one day he will embrace Jesus, too, but even if he doesn’t, she’s ready to stand firm in her faith. Because of two young men’s efforts, she knows truly serving Jesus is greater than a Sunday-morning ritual.

“If I had to forget my husband,” she says, “I would do it for my Jesus.”

Whatever she may face, Tamarai is completely devoted to following Christ now.

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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Stitching Her Garments with a Grateful Heart

November 1st, 2013 Comments off

 

Sewing Machine

Through the gift of a sewing machine from GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog, women like the one pictured here are able to earn much-needed income for their families and are experiencing a tangible expression of the love of Christ.

With a grateful heart, Nandita stitches busily away at her sewing machine, creating garments that provide a steady income to help meet her household’s needs. For this hard-working woman in Andhra Pradesh, India, the gift of a sewing machine came just when she needed it most.

Before receiving the machine, Nandita and her husband, Arjun, lived out a meager existence of extreme poverty. They worked as day laborers to put food on the table for them and their two young children. Then Nandita began having health problems, which forced her to stop working. The family had to live on the limited income they received from Arjun’s job.

The problems only grew worse as Arjun began drowning his problems in alcohol. Many months went by with the family in the same awful predicament.

Then Gospel for Asia missionary Narendar began visiting the family, telling them about Jesus. At first, they were not very receptive because they were strong followers of the traditional religion of their village. But Narendar continued visiting the family and praying for them. As time went by, Nandita gradually opened up, relating her family’s struggles to survive and her husband’s consuming addiction. The pastor offered a kind, listening ear and continued to share the Gospel with them. Eventually, Nandita chose to put her trust in Jesus.

Nandita started attending the local church to learn more about her Savior. Arjun, on the other hand, showed no interest in the Christian faith—and even voiced his objections to his wife’s church attendance. But Nandita bravely continued, feeling drawn by the fulfilling joy and peace she found in the Lord’s presence as she worshipped Him with other believers.

Then a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center opened in Nandita’s village, and she enrolled their two children. It gave her joy to see them cared for and nurtured at the center. The Bridge of Hope staff visited the family often, too.

While Nandita continued to experience a wonderful, abiding peace in Jesus, her family’s struggling finances remained a concern. By this time her husband was providing only sporadic income to run the household. It was not nearly enough to adequately feed them.

Then, through the caring generosity of GFA friends across the globe who responded to GFA’s 2006 Christmas Gift Catalog, struggling families in Nandita’s village began receiving special gifts to help them earn a livelihood. Nandita received a sewing machine.

Nandita could sew garments, even with her health problems. Assisted by her new sewing machine, Nandita began stitching clothes—and selling them to earn money to meet her family’s needs. Today, more than a year later, she is still industriously working away at her sewing machine, earning a steady income to help her family. She is joyful in the Lord and continues to grow in her Christian walk as she faithfully attends her local church.

And now, Nandita can see God working in her husband’s heart as well. Arjun desires to receive Jesus as his Savior but is afraid of the response of his relatives and neighbors. Nandita requests prayer that the Lord will give Arjun the courage to make this important decision.

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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