Gospel for Asia (GFA World), Wills Point, TX – Discussing what motivates us to serve “the least of these”.
Driven by a passion to serve people Jesus referred to as “the least of these,” in 1979, Dr. KP Yohannan led a group of prayer believers to establish Gospel for Asia with a vision to turn the passion into practice.
Putting Our Passion into Practice to Serve the Least of These
While millions of people in North America were consumed with the debut of the Dukes of Hazzard, the release of The Muppet Movie, the introduction of the McDonald’s Happy Meal, and things on a more significant scale such as the American hostage crisis in Iran, the search for the Unabomber, and the peace talks in Washington between Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin, a small group of Christians had been fasting and praying in Dallas. They were praying that the Lord would open the way for them to reach “the least of these” in ways that would improve their living conditions and demonstrate the love of Jesus to change their lives forever.
Who are “the least of these?” There is no simple definition and there are even theological debates on the subject. The Lord referred to them as the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. The answer boils down to this – God has always shown a special concern for the poor and needy, so it should come as no surprise that He expects us to do the same. This is not a matter for debate. It is an indicator of Christ-mindedness.
A native of South Asia, Dr. Yohannan has always been acutely aware of the presence and needs of those whom we could call “the least of the least,” “the poorest of the poor,” and those without access to the common necessities for healthy lives or to an awareness of the Gospel.
The vast majority of these people live in what has been called the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window encompasses the area between the 10th to the 40th parallels north of the equator and stretches across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. About two-thirds of the world’s total population lives within this ‘window’ that includes nearly all of South Asia.
Dr. Yohannan also understood that the leadership of the emerging nations, many of which had endured the commercialization associated with the colonialization of the British Empire, were wary of outsiders and their agendas. His ground-breaking book, Revolution in World Missions, pointed to the necessity and marked the beginning of reaching, training, and equipping local believers within their native countries who could reach their own people with the love of Jesus.
One of the ways that Gospel for Asia’s national workers serve “the least of these” is by providing care for women, the objects of culturally-based rejection and scorn in much of South Asia.
Serving Women Who Need Training and Assistance
In 2017, GFA and its worldwide affiliates working in 18 Asian nations empowered more than 350,000 women through various ministry efforts.
In some areas where GFA-supported workers minister, women especially have it difficult. Some silently suffer violence at the hands of their husbands, their close and distant relatives and even strangers who exploit and abuse them.
In 2017, to make a positive difference, GFA helped provided free health care training to 289,033 women. This training focused on teaching women the basics of how to care for themselves and their families. They also learned how to keep a safe and hygienic home for their families and how to take care of themselves while pregnant. In addition, GFA taught 50,624 women in rural villages how to read and write, which will safeguard them from being cheated at the market and from entering into exploitative and usurious agreements with lenders. Another 10,965 women received vocational training that will provide them with valuable skills to make an honest living.
But more than this, as women experience the love of fellow human beings who are willing to serve and minister to them, their understanding of their worth and value in society is elevated. GFA-supported workers treat each girl and woman they meet with respect. They speak words of life into the hearts of women who’ve silently suffered violence, letting them know they matter, they have value and they are loved — even if the rest of society doesn’t think so.
As Dr. KP Yohannan noted, “It’s heartbreaking to consider the unthinkable struggles so many women go through, many of them unseen by anyone else in the world. We want them to know that they are precious in God’s sight, that they have unique value and worth as people created in His image, and that they are not forgotten.”
Providing Clean Drinking Water to Those Using Contaminated Sources
Another problem that plagues around two billion people worldwide – both women and men – is drinking water from stagnant ponds or water sources contaminated with feces. It is estimated that 502,000 deaths are caused each year by diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio, which are transmitted through contaminated water.
To meet the critical need for water in some of the neediest regions across Asia, GFA has spearheaded the “Jesus Well” project. In 2017 alone, Gospel for Asia was able to help provide 4,673 wells. That’s 4,673 sources of clean, fresh drinking water. One well typically provides clean water for at least 300 people and can last up to 20 years. GFA supporters around the world have allowed the rate of installation of Jesus Wells to continue and remain consistent, with tens of thousands of wells installed in the past several years. The Jesus Well project is one of the largest clean water initiatives in the world.
In regions where water might be accessible, but it’s just not safe to drink, GFA-supported workers provide BioSand water filters. These simple structures — locally built from concrete, sand, and rocks — filter water to remove 98 percent of biological impurities, providing safer water for drinking and cooking. In 2017, GFA helped provided 11,324 BioSand water filters for families and individuals.
As critical as these needs are, they are just a sampling of all that God has done through GFA in 2017. Around 234,300 families received much-needed income-generating gifts. GFA-supported workers organized 1,245 medical camps in villages and remote communities. They also helped install 6,364 toilets in communities desperately in need of safe sanitation facilities—and so much more.
“These statistics serve as an aerial view of what God accomplished in one year throughout communities in Asia,” Dr. Yohannan said. “God has done so much through His servants, who are faithfully ministering to the poor, desperate and needy around them. We praise God for giving us the opportunity to join Him in his work, and we are deeply grateful for the love, prayers and sacrificial giving of our donors so others may experience the grace and mercy of Christ.”
To learn more about all that God accomplished in GFA, click here.
About Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia is a Christian organization deeply committed to seeing communities transformed through the love of Christ demonstrated in word and deed. GFA serves “the least of these” in Asia, often in places where no one else is serving, so they can experience the love of God for the first time.
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