February 22, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by K.P. Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide – Discussing Gospel for Asia (GFA) Pastor Rapoto and his ministry to a village in systemic poverty, and the gift of toilets that helped opened their hearts to God’s love and joy.

GFA World Toilets: Through the gift of 10 new sanitation facilities (one of which is pictured), a village experienced the gift of God’s love.
Through the gift of 10 new sanitation facilities (one of which is pictured), a village experienced the gift of God’s love.

Pastor Rapoto served a small church of 68 believers, conducting Sunday services, prayer meetings, Sunday school and Women’s Fellowship ministries. Twice a month, he would visit a particular village nearby. Though the villagers followed the traditional religious traditions, Pastor Rapoto had faith that God would enable these people to experience God’s love for themselves.

Villagers in Need

Gospel for Asia (GFA) Pastor Rapoto served in this village for eight years before seeing any fruit from his labor. His heart broke for them and their difficult situations: Most of the villagers earned only a meager income from working in the rice paddy fields, generating barely enough money to survive. They would pray to their gods for protection and prosperity, but their situations never improved.

The village did not have proper sanitation facilities, and many residents were falling ill with diseases like typhoid fever, malaria and cerebral malaria. To make matters worse, because of the systemic poverty in the village, the families of those falling sick could not afford treatment.

A Village’s Heart Opened Through GFA World Toilets

Pastor Rapoto knew the struggles of the people living in this village and submitted applications on their behalf for 10 toilets to be installed in the village. Upon hearing the news and receiving the toilets, the villagers were overjoyed!

With these new toilets, they did not have to worry about using the bathroom during the night and in the rainy seasons. Using the bathroom was once dangerous and uncomfortable for the villagers, but thanks to the new toilets, their health conditions began improving, and they experienced just how much God loved and cared for them.

Their hearts opened to what Pastor Rapoto had to say, and they even began asking him to pray for them in their times of need. Through a simple toilet, God enabled these villagers to experience his love and receive his joy.


Read how the gift of a bicycle increased Shakurah’s faith.

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are Gospel for Asia World stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.


Source: Gospel for Asia Field Reports & Updates, Toilets Enable a Village to Experience God’s Love

Learn how to help protect people’s health, prevent diseases and help cure illnesses through donating towards Medical Camps, Mosquito Nets and constructing Outdoor Toilets.

Learn more by reading this GFA World Special Report: Taking the Toilet Challenge – Resolving Open Defecation Continues to Confound the World

Read more on Toilets and Open Defecation on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

September 10, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX – GFA World (Gospel for Asia) founded by K.P. Yohannan, whose heart to love and help the poor has inspired numerous charities like GFA World Canada, to serve the deprived and downcast worldwide, issued this first part of a Special Report update on Taking the Toilet Challenge, where resolving Open Defecation continues to confound the world.

GFA World (Gospel for Asia, founded by KP Yohannan) - Taking the Toilet Challenge, resolving Open Defecation continues to confound the world.

In a previous special report entitled “Fight Against Open Defecation Continues,” we discussed the need for a caring response from the world to the problem of open defecation (OD) —a worldwide health crisis. In this report, I highlight ongoing long-term progress, while also contrasting the continuing challenges this issue presents to much of the developing world.

Why are Bill and Melinda Gates Spending $200 Million on Toilets?

Ravi V. Bellamkonda
Prof. Ravi V. Bellamkonda, “Advancing technologies for public health…” Photo by Duke University,

Pratt School of Engineering

In regard to government funding and foundation grants, the $4.5 million awarded to Duke University last November represented a modest sum. Still, the stipend for Duke’s Center for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Infectious Disease (WaSH-AID) represented another small step in reducing open defecation by furthering testing of “reinvented toilets” and other hygienic technologies in the world’s neediest areas.

“We are grateful for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s investment in our (center) to lead collaboration with experts at Duke, across the industry and around the world to address this critical societal challenge,” said Ravi V. Bellamkonda, dean of the university’s school of engineering. “Advancing technologies for public health is particularly germane to control the spread of preventable diseases, and in this case also a fundamental human right—dignity.”1

Symbolically, the award came on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet” challenge, which asked researchers to devise toilets that can sanitize human waste with no water, electricity, sewer or septic system. The waste treatment goals include cleaning the waste and reclaiming water to safe drinking standards and harvesting nutrients for other uses. That can be a game-changer for those living without sanitation.

The WaSH-AID Team
Duke’s WaSH-AID team focuses on the development of onsite waste treatment solutions to meet the needs of resource-constrained environments in many disadvantaged communities around the world, but also in parts of the United States, including North Carolina. Photo by Duke University, Center for WaSH-AID

About halfway into this initiative, one inventor produced a system called the Omni Processor. Although technically not a toilet, the Omni is an off-the-grid fecal sludge treatment plant that outputs purified water and may one day also produce electricity. A working prototype has been operating in Dakar, Senegal, in Africa, for a few years, with the latest version licensed to companies in countries including the U.S. and China.2 Project director Brian Arbogast believes the technology will eventually influence sanitation in the developed world, such as green buildings, septic systems and off-the-grid cabins.

After spending a day at the foundation’s office in early 2019, a Business Insider reporter waxed enthusiastically about the toilet technology and other initiatives addressing such problems as extreme poverty, child mortality and malaria: “Hearing about their work was inspiring and gave me hope for the future …” wrote Julie Bort. “And the reason is simple. These people are taking on some of the world’s hairiest, most complex and seemingly intractable problems. And they are winning.”3

Family in front of outdoor toilets built through GFA World donations
Some of the best solutions for communities in need of low-cost sanitation are just simple outdoor toilets like these built by Gospel for Asia (GFA World) to serve this entire snake charmer village in Uttar Pradesh.

A Formidable Problem: High-Tech or Low-Tech Solutions?

Not everyone is as impressed with the foundation’s efforts. Two years after the initiative’s unveiling, an environmental engineer whose business focuses on developing low-cost toilets said communities that desperately need sanitation will be unable to afford the advanced technology promoted by the initiatives.

We “should be investing more in low-tech rather than high-tech toilets,” said Jason Kass, founder of Toilets for People. “But high-tech solutions and research projects are sexier and more eye-catching, so they are more interesting for universities.”4

The fact that in its first seven years the Gates Foundation invested $200 million in the toilet challenge demonstrates the formidable nature of ending open defecation. Yet it is a battle that must be waged.

Open defecation (OD)

is a disease-producing practice that contaminates drinking water and spreads diseases such as cholera, dysentery and diarrhea, which is particularly fatal among children. The incidence of such disease can disrupt young people’s education. In addition, females who engage in open defecation are more vulnerable to sexual violence.

The problem has generated widespread responses, such as India’s five-year-long Swachh Barat Abhiyan (“Clean India”) campaign that installed 110 million latrines by October 2019, with accompanying claims of success by Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

32,000 total toilets installed to date in impoverished and remote locations all across South Asia.One of the NGOs helping PM Modi in this campaign is GFA World, which has worked tirelessly to help install over 32,000 toilets to date in some of the most remote and difficult-to-reach locations across South Asia..

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a “Toilet Revolution,” calling on local governments to improve sanitation in hopes of attracting more tourism since a bad “toilet landscape” had harmed the Asian giant’s image.5

Young boy practifing open defecation
Open defecation is still a problem in Nigeria where over 46 million people defecate in the open and over 120 million people do not have a decent toilet. Photo by WaterAid Nigeria, Twitter

Not coincidentally, in November 2018 the city of Beijing played host to the “Reinvented Toilet Expo,” which Gates projects could create a $6billion-a-year market by 2030. Kinya Seto, the president of Japanese exhibitor LIXIL, said innovative companies have a golden opportunity to do well by doing good: “We can help jump-start a new era of sanitation for the 21st century by developing solutions that can leapfrog today’s existing infrastructure, functioning anywhere and everywhere.”6

The latest nation to attack open defecation is Nigeria, where fewer than half the households have their own toilet. In 2016, the government launched an action plan aiming to end the practice by 2025 by providing equitable access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, and strengthening community approaches. However, three years later the government had failed to release funding for the initiative. In November 2018, with parts of the country facing high levels of water-borne diseases, President Muhammadu Buhari declared a state of emergency.7

Two women and child outside of outdoor toilet
In Dimbroko, Cote d’Ivoire, Habitat for Humanity implemented a community-led pilot project to end open defecation. Habitat successfully worked with the government, private sector and community representatives to create sanitation facilities and promote proper hygiene practices. Photo by Habitat for Humanity, Ending Open Defecation in Cote d’Ivoire

Donate to Sanitation Projects »

Safe, sanitary outdoor toilets typically cost around $540, to build in Asia, and benefit multiple families in remote, impoverished communities. You can help provide one for a needy village, by donating a portion of the construction costs through Gospel for Asia (GFA World).


Read the rest of this Gospel for Asia – Transforming Communities (GFA World) Special Report: Taking The Toilet Challenge  Part 2


About GFA World

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based global mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across the world, especially in Asia and Africa, and sharing the love of God. In GFA World’s latest yearly report, this included thousands of community development projects that benefit downtrodden families and their children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and teaching providing hope and encouragement available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. GFA World expects to launch programs in numerous African nations, starting with compassion projects in Rwanda. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read more blogs on GFA World, Toilet CrisisPoverty and Open Defecation on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more by reading this Special Report from Gospel for Asia: Fight Against Open Defecation Continues — Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation


Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Malaria Amid COVID 19 | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response | International Offices | Missionary and Child Sponsorship | Transforming Communities through God’s Love

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This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

May 20, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by KP Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this Special Report on the ongoing fight against open defecation, using outdoor toilets to improve sanitation.

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) reports on the ongoing fight against open defecation, using outdoor toilets to improve sanitation.
In this part of the slums in Mumbai, India, many people live in close proximity in unhygienic surroundings—lacking facilities like toilets and proper drainage.

What Do the World’s Sanitation Problems Have to Do with Us?

For those of us with indoor flush toilets—and clean ones at that—with sewer lines that carry waste to treatment facilities, and who live in places where waterborne and airborne bacteria are not a hazard, our response to this crisis is probably, So what? We don’t say this out loud, but like so many other dire extremes jockeying for our attention, it doesn’t really touch our lives.

However, in a majority of places, America is starting to suffer from failing infrastructure. Most of us think of that in terms of roads and bridges needing repair or major overhauling, a transportation issue. Yet infrastructure means water service, too.

Just two years ago, reporters from the Chicago Tribune conducted an exposé of the high bills being charged for water in underserved metro area neighborhoods. Maywood residents in a western suburb paid one of the region’s highest water rates, because older pipes allow major seepage. Of the 946 millions of gallons that Maywood bought from neighboring Melrose Park in 2016, some 367 million gallons, or 38.7 percent, never made it to taps. That cost residents in an already cash-strapped population nearly $1.7 million more than residents paid in other towns of similar size. And the poor are tapped for a disproportionate share of the bill.

What if I had to stand in line to use a communal latrine where flies buzzed, the floor was filthy, someone had evacuated due to acute diarrhea, and no one wanted to clean the mess? Now we’re getting closer.

Water problems may be closer than we think. In a 2012 article for a Yale University publication, reporter Cheryl Colopy—author of Dirty, Sacred Rivers: Confronting South Asia’s Water Crisis—warned: “In the United States, sewage treatment has not been a problem for the past half-century, but it could become one again as infrastructure ages and fails—especially if there is a lack of government money to replace it. In addition, certain regions of the U.S. are expected to experience water shortages as temperatures rise. New, water-saving, decentralized toilet technologies may need to be adopted not only in places like South Asia, but also in parts of the industrialized world.”

Indeed, we may be thinking more about sanitation issues in the near future. And, the burgeoning technologies used to solve defecation problems and to discover clean water solutions in the developing world may be solutions we will also seek not far down the road.

Women are prone to assault, disease runs rampant, and lives are at risk: all a result of using the bathroom outdoors.

What If You Didn’t Have a Toilet?

So I remind myself of toilet scenarios I do know about, then extrapolate some personal situations. Our home, in which we have lived for 40 years, has a septic system. During that time, we have suffered power outages amid extreme storms, meaning no water could be pumped from our underground well; this disabled our showers, faucets and toilets. I used to store plastic bottles of water so when things went black we could still brush our teeth, dress by candlelight and—get this—flush our toilets. If the power did not come back on for a couple days, frozen food thawed and excess detritus threatened to overflow the toilet basin.

So I extrapolate: What if this happened all the time? What if sewer lines broke, got clogged and backed up regularly? What if I lived in poverty, with no plumbers, no money and no electric company to call to fix this? What if I had to stand in line to use a communal latrine where flies buzzed, the floor was filthy, someone had evacuated due to acute diarrhea, and no one wanted to clean the mess? Now we’re getting closer.

A Squat Outdoor India Toilet
A well-cleaned squat toilet in Asia.

In refugee camps overseas, my travel companions and I held ridiculous discussions about who had invented squat toilets: men or women? Someone shot a photo of me holding a rickety latrine toilet door upright while a woman coworker trusted me to guard her privacy while she did her business. We may laugh, but for most of the world this situation is not a laughing matter. Smelling an overflowing latrine from 20 feet away might persuade even a Westerner to think similarly, even if only metaphorically. In truth, I don’t like the few outhouses I’ve been forced to use in the States, nor many of the spooky national park public facilities. If I can help it, I certainly avoid portable potties at public events.

When Your Septic Tank Problems Bring Embarrassment

My last attempt at toilet empathy. About 10 years after we moved to West Chicago, Illinois, our neighbor knocked on the door and apologized for complaining about the standing stinking water seeping into his property.

“I think you may be having trouble with your septic system,” he reported, a bit embarrassed.

I called two septic companies. One said I needed to have the whole septic field replaced; cost: $10,000. The other service man diagnosed another problem but with a similar estimate. Then I went to the DuPage County Health Department and asked what septic firms they would recommend. I called Black Gold, whose reps complained about the septic map drawn by the company that laid our field—that was now leaking.

“Would the health department let us get away with a layout like this?” he asked his partner. They both obviously thought the field plan had been rendered by some septic idiot. Sure enough, after spending about 45 minutes prodding our three-quarters-of-an-acre lot with long poles, they said: “Lady, you don’t need no new septic field. The lines of what’s there ain’t connected to the tank.” Their fee: $3,000. I made a garden from areas torn up by their repairs.

Many people in Asia draw water from smelly, vile ponds
Vile, brown liquid that some in Asia count on as their water source.

So what if I lived somewhere that permanently seeped smelly, vile, germ-ridden, brown liquid? What if the river at the back of the land was a running sewer, and my grandchildren couldn’t romp and splash in it? What if the fields were filled not only with animal feces but the excreta of some 300 neighbors?

You can come up with your own empathy-building stories.

Communities Band Together to Improve Sanitation

A family in front of a GFA-provided outdoor toilet facility
A family in front of a Gospel for Asia (GFA)-provided local facility.

Prime Minister Modi and his teams are sold on community-led initiatives, and so should they be. Change works best when a whole population is committed to seeing it happen.

Community development often works best when it is exactly that: an idea that grows out of the mind of a local visionary, capable of strategic thinking but with compassion for those nearby—his or her neighbors. And when a whole community becomes involved in “cleaning up its act,” few powers on earth can withstand such initiative.

Now what’s interesting about Gospel for Asia’s stories surrounding sanitation is that it is the local pastor in the village, who out of concern and knowing that open defecation has deadly disease-breeding potential, exercises compassion to love his neighbors through his concern about the availability of latrines.

This is an excerpt from a Gospel for Asia (GFA) story that appeared on last year’s World Toilet Day. It concerns a family in one community forced to use the open fields to defecate because they had no other proper place.

Malak, before being touched by Christ’s love, had been an alcoholic. After reading the entire Bible from start to finish, Malak was transformed and abandoned the bottle. Some years later, he met Jaki, and they were married.Eventually, the couple were blessed with two children. It seemed as if all was right for Malak and his family. However, a singular problem arose: The family had no toilet. The nearest place to relieve themselves was a little less than a mile away. During extreme weather, the family was forced to stay indoors, rendering those facilities useless. Going outside in the open was degrading and unhygienic, and at nighttime it was dangerous—who knew what kind of wild animals lurked about?

However, Malak and his family prayed, and their requests did not go unanswered. During a GFA Christmas gift distribution, they received a complete sanitation facility. They no longer had to trek half a mile just to use the bathroom or use the outdoors in fear.

What an extraordinary example of love in practical action.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” —Luke 10:27

For women like this tea estate laborer, having no outdoor toilet facility could mean risking assault as they go out into an open field in the dark.
“It’s not safe to send our people, our children, our wives or our daughters to the tea garden at night to use the toilet,” Iniyavan said.
Iniyavan made only 2,400 rupees a month, which was equivalent to about $37 (USD) a month. He wasn’t able to save enough money to construct a toilet.
Open defecation means there’s the risk of disease as families continually return to communal waste grounds
GFA-supported Compassion Services teams construct outdoor toilets, also known as sanitation facilities, for people who, like Iniyavan, do not have the means to do so on their own.
“Now, since I have this toilet built in my house, I don’t have to worry. My family and I don’t have to go to the tea garden for toilet, and it is very safe here,” Iniyavan said.

On the Brink of Innovations, Change in Sanitation

Toilet technology is on the edge of remarkable, cost-effective, ecologically friendly frontiers. They’re becoming self-cleaning and solar-powered. A solar-powered toilet that converts waste into charcoal can then be used as fertilizer. An indoor toilet that works like a garden composter, spinning the contents and reducing odor and the number of dangerous pathogens. Portable rickshaw toilets. A community bio-digester toilet designed to convert human waste into gases and manure. Once ideas begin flourishing, there is no limit to what can happen.

Granted, Prime Minister Modi’s ODF csampaign may take a little longer to succeed. But the hardest pull of any new effort is at the beginning. Once new ideas start rolling, they gather steam. Some new toilet technologies may become catalysts as well. In addition, there are hundreds of international organizations working on sanitation solutions. They understand that one size does not fit all the variables that make up the particulars in this vast discussion, but added all together, it is a prohibitive association with evidence of remarkable dedication.

And when a whole community becomes involved in “cleaning up its act,” there are few powers on earth that can withstand such initiative.

A Canadian doctor, one of those “creative renegades” unhappy with the condition of the world who I have come to admire and love, was appointed as a provincial health officer in the highlands of Papua, New Guinea. During an aerial survey, he and his team discovered one distinctly cleaner and healthier village. Far below lay the evidence of what turned out to be a pastor with basic health training who had taught his people those lessons; the difference could be seen from the air. Inspired, they searched for a more integral way of ministering and soon began using a community health evangelism methodology, which had been developed in Africa.

Sometimes we get lost in the details on the ground. We need to stand back, take deep breaths and find some way to gather broader assessments—an aerial view. Progress is being made; it’s just a little harder in some places than in others. I’m proud that Gospel for Asia is one of the players.

Shout Out to Toilets!

Christianity has everything to do with sanitation. We serve a God who is expecting us to help restore the world He created to its original design. That is a world, among many other things, without rampaging diseases. One day, Scripture promises, it will be a world without death and suffering. So in this interim, let’s hear a shout out for all the toilets in the world!


Donate to Sanitation Projects

For only $540, you will help reduce the risk of common diseases by providing a family with an outdoor toilet.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Fight Against Open Defecation Continues – Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation Part 1

Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Read what Christian Leaders have to say about Gospel for Asia.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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May 19, 2021

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by KP Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, to assist the poor and deprived worldwide, issued this Special Report on the ongoing fight against open defecation, and how using outdoor toilets helps to improve sanitation.

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) reports on the ongoing fight against open defecation, using outdoor toilets to improve sanitation.

Karen Burton Mains
Karen Burton Mains, author

Since I first wrote about open defecation a few years ago, efforts to combat the problem have gathered momentum. A report compiled by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in June shows the percentage of people practicing open defecation declined from 21 percent (1.3 billion) in 2000 to 9 percent (673 million) by 2017.

While this is encouraging news, there is much more to be done. The United Nations (UN) says “some 2.2 billion people around the world do not have safely-managed drinking water, while 4.2 billion go without safe sanitation services and three billion lack basic handwashing facilities.”

“Mere access is not enough,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF’s associate director of water, sanitation and hygiene. “If the water isn’t clean, isn’t safe to drink or is far away, and if toilet access is unsafe or limited, then we’re not delivering for the world’s children.”

In addition to the UN, this multi-faceted effort includes governments, non-governmental organizations and various Christian and non-Christian charities. All have launched initiatives that include long-term goals for ending this threat to the world’s health. The UN’s global sustainable development goals include ensuring that everyone has a safe toilet and that open defecation ends by 2030.

Children investigate new toilet
Children in Cote d’Ivoire investigate their community’s newly improved toilets, one of the UNOCI’s “quick impact projects” (QIPS) which supported the rehabilitation of schools and toilets in Abidjan. UN Photo/Patricia Esteve

People using the bathroom outdoors with no toilet nearby nor sanitary treatment of their discharge has fueled disease, created serious health problems and endangered female safety by exposing them to possible rape or other abuse. Then there is the particularly stomach-turning incident from July 2018, when a 3-year-old South African boy drowned in a pit latrine—a type of crude toilet that collects feces in a hole in the ground. Four years earlier in the same province, a 5-year-old boy drowned in a school toilet.

Such horror stories help explain the need for “World Toilet Day,” which falls every year on November 19. Inaugurated in 2013, the UN-sponsored observance urges member states to encourage behavioral changes and implement policies to increase access to sanitation among the poor. Despite progress in recent years, the situation is serious, as shown by the June UN report.

Among key sanitation facts from WHO:

  • In 2017, only 45 percent of the global population used a safely managed sanitation service.
  • Two billion people do not have basic sanitation facilities, such as a toilet or latrine.
  • At least 10 percent of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by wastewater.
  • Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.

In short, open defecation is a worldwide health crisis, one that demands a caring response from the world—especially those who profess to follow Christ.

GFA World supporters visit outdoor toilet installed by Believers Eastern Church in South Asia
GFA World supporters get the opportunity to visit an outdoor toilet installed by Believers Eastern Church for the benefit of multiple families in this neighborhood around Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. During 2019, 5,428 toilets like these were installed by GFA across South Asia to help improve the sanitation challenges in many developing communities.

Hanging Out with “Renegades”

For much of my adult life, I have hung out with the “renegades” of Christian missions. Namely, the relief-and-development crowd that rushes to help during natural disasters, struggles to alleviate the suffering and abasement of refugee displacement, and pays concerted attention to the struggles of people in developing nations. My first trip around the world came at the invitation of Food for the Hungry; I traveled with Larry Ward, the executive director at the time, and his wife, Lorraine.

The purpose of the trip was an international field survey with an emphasis on the world’s refugee crisis, which in the l980s was the largest since World War II. We started in Hong Kong and ended seven weeks later in Kenya, Africa. My assignment was to observe with fresh eyes and write about what I had seen. I wrote my book, The Fragile Curtain, with the help of daily briefings from the U.S. State Department and the excellent international reporting of The Christian Science Monitor (and some generous coaching from a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper reporter). It won a Christopher Award, a national prize for works that represent “the highest values of the human spirit.”

“I never realized,” he said, “that I would eventually measure the impact of the Gospel by how many toilets had been built in a village.”

Eventually, I brought the accumulated exposure of my world travels—some 55 countries in all—and the learning I had gathered through research and dragging through camps and slums to the board of Medical Ambassadors International (MAI), a global faith-based health organization.

Villagers from the village that received outdoor toilets
Women and girls are often at risk when open defecation is the only option for relieving themselves. Thankfully, these precious faces can smile because a toilet facility was recently built in their village.

GFA’s Story, Helping to Improve Sanitation in Asia

As I mentioned earlier, Christianity has a vital role in ending these problems. One of the organizations involved is Gospel for Asia (GFA), long close to my heart and that of my husband, David Mains. We met K.P. Yohannan, GFA’s founder, when the ministry was a mere vision in the heart of a young Indian man. It was a divine nudge that would not let up. Since then, David has traveled to Asia at the invitation of Gospel for Asia (GFA) eight times; I have visited once. We’ve watched as K.P.’s vision grew from a dream to reality, with numbers beyond anything we could have considered possible.

GFA’s website tells its vast story: In 2018 the ministry fed, clothed and schooled some 70,000 impoverished children, operated 1,128 free medical camps and constructed 6,431 toilets with dual-tank sanitation systems.

A family stands in front of a India toilet - a GFA-installed latrine or squatty potty.
This family stands in front of a latrine or “squatty potty” that was installed by GFA-supported national workers.

Gospel for Asia (GFA) started building latrines in 2012, setting a goal of constructing some 15,000 concrete outhouses by 2016. It long ago surpassed that mark. Figures for 2016 alone: 10,512 toilets installed, with another 6,364 following in 2017, and another 6,431 in 2018. Potable water, of course, travels hand in hand with sanitation. In 2018, the ministry’s field partners constructed 4,712 Jesus Wells and distributed 11,451 BioSand water filters to purify drinking water. Touching vignettes on GFA’s website make the statistics personal.

“Our family is blessed both physically and spiritually,” said one villager in Asia. “We are free from problems and sickness.…It is because of the people who have spent their money to drill a Jesus Well in my place.”

“This saved the lives of people from illness,” said another—and indeed, toilets, when and if they are used, do just that.

There, indeed, is a thread that runs through Gospel for Asia’s stories of toilets: The pastor of the church in this village or that hamlet seems to be the catalyst for health improvements.

Organizations Tackling the Sanitation Crisis

Matt Damon, founder of Water.org
Matt Damon, the founder of Water.org (photo credit Water.org)

Much of the world is in a war against the perils caused by inadequate or non-existent sanitation. People as diverse as Matt Damon, a Hollywood celebrity, award-winning actor and producer/screenwriter, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are battling uphill against open defecation (in the sewers, in running streams, by the roadsides, in the fields and the forests, on garbage dumps, etc.).

Damon, driven by a desire to make a difference in solving extreme poverty, discovered that water and sanitation were the two basic foundations beneath much of what ails the world. Through his charity, Water.org, he and his business partner, Gary White, use microfinance loans to help underserved people connect to a service utility or build a home latrine. By 2020, more than 30 million people in 17 countries have been affected by this approach.

Prime Minister Modi campaigned to end open defecation and build latrines for India
Prime Minister Modi campaigned to end open defecation and build latrines for India.

Photo by narendramodiofficial on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

During his campaign for office in 2014, Modi spoke of “Toilets Before Temples.” His party’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) campaign has undoubtedly made progress, thanks in part to the $28 billion (U.S.) originally allocated, plus World Bank loans totaling another $1.5 billion.

After a Reuters News Service story last May portrayed the government as using overly optimistic results about the initiative, India’s Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation issued a release, saying its program had “succeeded in lifting more than 550 million people out of open defecation in a short period of less than 5 years.” His re-election last year may be partly due to the progress of the initiative he organized to curtail the practice.

Talking Openly About Open Defecation

Another key dilemma in this discussion—open defecation, hardly a dinner-table topic or a missions committee agenda item—is that accessibility to toilets does not always indicate usage. Changing habits is mostly a matter of changing mindsets in the face of deeply entrenched beliefs.

Some 1.5 million people die globally each year from polluted water diseases alone.

Elizabeth Royte, in a comprehensive August 2017 National Geographic magazine article, reported visiting Parameswaran Iyer, India’s secretary of drinking water and sanitation, in 2016. A hand-numbered sign on his wall tracked progress.

“You see that?” he asked. “One hundred thousand is the number of villages that are ODF today.” (ODF is the acronym for open defecation free.)

Royte, a sanitation expert traveling widely and reporting extensively, noted that Modi aimed to build more than 100 million new toilets in rural areas alone by 2019. But she added that “deep-seated attitudes may present an even bigger barrier to improving sanitation than a lack of pipes and pits.”

Echoing that observation, on World Toilet Day in 2018, The Washington Post reported: “Although increasing the number of toilets and improving their quality is important, the larger challenge is how to ensure that they actually will be used. … In our survey of 810 households in Delhi’s slums, where private toilet ownership is rare, we found that many people do not regularly use nearby public toilets, known as community toilet complexes, built specifically for slum dwellers.”

Facing the Facts about India Toilets

That being said, let’s look at data regarding the state of toilets and open defecation in Asia. Then let’s examine what development organizations, sanitation technologies and mission groups, namely Gospel for Asia, are attempting to help Asia become ODF.

Although Modi has emphasized improved sanitation, it’s worthwhile to note that India struggled with these issues even before winning independence from Great Britain in 1947. In fact, Gandhi insisted, “Sanitation is more important than temples.” Now, due to population growth, a conundrum exists: While the percentage practicing open defecation has dropped substantively, birth rates are creating an environment where more people live in geographic locations where fecal exposure is increasing, not decreasing.

37%

of the urban population—some 157 million urban dwellers—lacked a safe and private toilet, according to UK-based charity WaterAid in November 2016.

Even sewers are no guarantors of healthiness: In the capital city of Delhi, pipes are corroded; they ooze waste; and nearly a third of the booming city isn’t connected to underground lines. Many latrines flush into open drains.

700,000

—4 percent—of this urban population still defecated outdoors.

56%

only of the sewers are safely managed.

Just 1 gram of feces can contain:

100 million viruses

1 million bacteria

1 thousand parasitic cysts

These can be absorbed through cuts in the flesh, the porous nature of skin itself, or by drinking unsafe water and eating contaminated foods. Flies carry disease from roadsides and open fields.

Health figures are consequently staggering.

2,195 children

worldwide die from diarrhea each day, with the disease the second-leading cause of death for children under 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The chronically distressed digestive system doesn’t absorb nutrients or medicines well. Underweight mothers give birth to underweight babies.

149 million

children worldwide under the age of 5 are affected by stunting, according to the World Health Organization in 2018. And all of the above and much, much more could be cured and eliminated by the installation and use of proper sanitation systems in slums, hamlets, rural villages and large cities across India.

Photo by Kristian Bertel


Donate to Sanitation Projects

For only $540, you will help reduce the risk of common diseases by providing a family with an outdoor toilet.


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report: Fight Against Open Defecation Continues – Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation Part 2

Learn more by reading these Special Reports from Gospel for Asia:


This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Read what Christian Leaders have to say about Gospel for Asia.

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November 24, 2020

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by K.P. Yohannan, which inspired numerous charities like Gospel for Asia Canada, has warned that more people will die from diseases linked to lack of toilets and poor sanitation than from COVID-19 this year.

So far this year, more than 1.2 million deaths worldwide have been attributed to the pandemic, but it’s likely millions more will die from exposure to diseases carried by human waste — diseases that don’t make the headlines.

As millions across the developing world relieve themselves in the open, raw sewage spawns a multitude of deadly diseases. Excrement attracts flies that quickly spread diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, polio, and hepatitis A.

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, says 2.2 million people worldwide will die this year from diarrhea alone — nearly double the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded so far.

Many of those deaths — mostly children under five — could be avoided if the world’s poor had access to safe, sanitary toilets and hand-washing facilities, says Gospel for Asia (GFA World), a Texas-based Christian organization that builds thousands of new toilets across Asia every year.

More to die from diseases linked to lack of toilet & sanitation than from Covid, GFA World reports - fight against open defecation continues
TOILET CRISIS ‘KILLS MORE THAN COVID-19:’ More people will die from diseases linked to lack of toilets and poor sanitation than from COVID-19 this year, humanitarian agency Gospel for Asia (GFA World) has warned as their shocking new report releases, titled Fight Against Open Defecation Continues. World Toilet Day, an annual awareness event, is Nov. 19.

Report Reveals Toilet Misery

The misery of the 4.2 billion people — over half the world’s population — who don’t have a toilet at home, or safe sanitation, is revealed in a shocking new Gospel for Asia (GFA World) report, Fight Against Open Defecation Continues, marking World Toilet Day on Nov. 19.

Open defecation is when people go to the toilet outside in the open — in the street, in a park, or by a river, for example — a common practice in many poor countries. Just a fleck of human feces might contain 100 million viruses, one million bacteria, and 1,000 parasites that can be transmitted through cuts, skin pores, contaminated water or food.

Even when people have access to public toilets, they’re often unsafe, conditions can be horrible, and many people don’t use them. In many Asia megacities, latrines often flush into open drains that flow along the streets.

“For billions of people around the world, simply going to the toilet is degrading, unhygienic and even dangerous,” said Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founder K.P. Yohannan. In 2018, a three-year-old South African boy fell into a feces-filled pit latrine and drowned. Others risk being attacked or sexually assaulted while using public toilets at night, so they relieve themselves in the open instead.

“It’s easy for us in America to never give it a second thought, because we don’t have to walk a mile or more to the nearest public toilet or pit latrine,” said Yohannan, author of Never Give Up.

‘Catastrophic Health Consequences’

The global “toilet tragedy” has caught the attention of Hollywood actor Matt Damon and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’ve highlighted the catastrophic health consequences.

Dozens of international agencies are working on innovative solutions, including solar-powered toilets that convert human waste into fertilizer.

Last year, Gospel for Asia (GFA World) workers built more than 5,400 toilets and latrines across Asia and educated communities about the importance of using them. “I never imagined that we’d measure the impact of our Christian faith by the number of toilets we build,” said Yohannan, “but the reality is that people see from our actions that God’s people really do care about them.”


Read another story on how the Lord is using Gospel for Asia to bring relief to those in need during COVID 19.

Those interested in supporting GFA World’s COVID 19 relief efforts in Asia, should go to: http://www.gfa.org/press/covid-19.

Media interested in interviews with Gospel For Asia should contact Gregg Wooding at InChrist Communications @ 972-567-7660 or gwooding@inchristcommuications.com


About Gospel for Asia

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.


Learn more by reading these Special Reports:

KP Yohannan has issued two statements about the COVID-19 situation found here and here.

GFA’s Statement About Coronavirus

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Source: GFA Press Room, Global Toilet Crisis ‘Kills More Than COVID-19’ Says Gospel for Asia (GFA World)

March 17, 2020

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by Dr. K.P. YohannanDiscussing Janya & her village, at risk from the absence of a toilet, & Gospel for Asia constructing outdoor toilets that bring relief & eternal hope to many.

As night fell, Janya and her daughter traipsed through the mud. They had waited all day, and they were tired of holding it. Finally, they found a place in the bushes where they could go to the bathroom.

Going out at night was never comfortable, especially when rains flooded the land during monsoon season. But they had no other private place to go to the bathroom. Janya and her family, along with almost everyone else in their village, had no toilet at home. That made it necessary for the villagers to find faraway places to relieve themselves at daybreak. But, like thousands of other women in Asia who desire privacy, Janya and her daughter would go in the evening, risking attack from wild animals—or callous men.

Gospel for Asia: Janya and her daughter, along with many of the other villagers, faced danger and inconvenience while going out to the bathroom at night.
Janya and her daughter, along with many of the other villagers, faced danger and inconvenience while going out to the bathroom at night.

The lack of toilets in Janya’s village didn’t just pose safety risks; it was a health risk. Children often relieved themselves in the farm fields, contaminating public areas. As a result, many people grew ill with health conditions such as jaundice, cholera, polio and paralysis.

Janya and her family knew Jesus was watching over them as they traveled at night to relieve themselves. What’s more, He had given them eternal life—no dangers in the dark could steal that from them. But most of their fellow villagers didn’t have this security. Amidst their vulnerability to nighttime predators and to disease, they didn’t know there was a God who cared about them.

Family Gives Land for Toilet

Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by Dr. K.P. Yohannan: Discussing Janya & her village, at risk from the absence of a toilet, & Gospel for Asia constructing outdoor toilets that bring relief & eternal hope to many.
Lalan gladly offered his land for the outdoor toilet—a blessing to both his family and the surrounding community. See how you can provide a toilet.

The local Gospel for Asia (GFA) pastor, Vidur, understood the villagers’ struggle. He himself had been ministering in the area for more than 10 years. Knowing people’s lives were at risk whenever they used the fields as their toilet, he wished there were a way to help them.

Then he found out Gospel for Asia (GFA) had started a program to promote sanitation in underprivileged areas. Excited about the opportunity to help his community, he asked his leaders to build four toilets in the village.

That’s when Janya and her husband, Lalan, gladly offered some of their land for one toilet.

In January 2013, when the villagers saw a concrete outhouse rise out of the dusty ground, they poured out their gratitude to Pastor Vidur and the church.

“[This] saved the lives of people from illness,” shared one villager.

Even the village leader expressed thanks. “[The church] is always concerned about the need of people and works hard for a brilliant life for the community,” he said.

Now, instead of risking their safety while tromping through mud to find some bushes, Janya and her family walk to the concrete structure on their own property to use the restroom. From their house they can see others coming to use the much-needed facility, too.

Constructing Outdoor Toilets Leads Man to Church

Gospel for Asia founded by Dr. K.P. Yohannan: After learning about Christ through a conversation about the outdoor toilet, Rana decided to visit Pastor Vidur’s church.
After learning about Christ through a conversation about the outdoor toilet, Rana decided to visit Pastor Vidur’s church.

Overjoyed to see people coming to his property to use the toilet, Lalan often has conversations with them.

One day Rana, Lalan’s relative, came by for a visit. When he saw the concrete structure, which bore a sign with the church’s name, he asked Lalan about it. Glad for an opportunity to share, Lalan told Rana about Jesus, the God who restores lives, and how the church longed to help bring restoration to the community through projects like constructing outdoor toilets.

A few days later, as Rana was watching one of his family members suffer with illness, he remembered Lalan’s words about Jesus’ power to heal.

He decided to visit Lalan’s church, where Pastor Vidur prayed for healing. When Rana went home, his family member was already healed. Now Rana joins the congregation for worship services each week, even though he lives about 50 miles away.

A Gift With Eternal Impact

Rana isn’t the only visitor who has been introduced to Jesus after seeing the toilet. The gift opened up conversations between Lalan and two other families, and they are now following Christ.

Through this gift, the health of Lalan’s family and their neighbors is improving, and they are much less likely to contract life-threatening illnesses. Most importantly, people who didn’t know Christ are learning about Him as they talk to a family that’s excited to proclaim His goodness.

Gospel for Asia founded by Dr. K.P. Yohannan: Pastor Vidur’s congregation continues to grow, and he gets to tell many of the believers about good hygiene practices for disease prevention.
Pastor Vidur’s congregation continues to grow, and he gets to tell many of the believers about good hygiene practices for disease prevention.

Since the toilet on Lalan’s property was constructed, Pastor Vidur’s congregation has grown from 68 to 115 people, and Gospel for Asia (GFA) has been able to finish constructing outdoor toilets in three other parts of the village, so people will continue to hear about the God who cares about their safety, their health and, even more importantly, their souls.

You can help bring Christ’s love to more people in Asia by providing an outdoor toilet to a village like Lalan’s.


Give a Much Needed Toilet Today

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are Gospel for Asia stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.


Source: Gospel for Asia Featured Article, Welcome to Their Toilet

Learn how to help protect people’s health, prevent diseases and help cure illnesses through donating towards Medical Camps, Mosquito Nets and constructing Outdoor Toilets.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

Learn more about Gospel for Asia: Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn | SourceWatch | Integrity | Lawsuit Update | 5 Distinctives | 6 Remarkable Facts | 10 Milestones | Media Room | Open Defecation | Endorsements | 40th Anniversary | Lawsuit Response |

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February 20, 2020

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World) founded by Dr. K.P. YohannanDiscussing Laal and his family, and the blessing the gift of a toilet brings, even beyond sanitation, the peace of God and His saving grace.

While some may ask for a new bicycle or the latest iPhone for Christmas, others wish simply for a toilet. For one family living in a remote village, the gift of a new sanitation facility from a Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported worker opened the door for them to receive Jesus, the greatest gift ever given.

Gospel for Asia founded by Dr. K.P. Yohannan -Discussing Laal and his family, and the blessing the gift of a toilet brings, even beyond sanitation, the peace of God and His saving grace.

The Needs of a Family

Laal and his wife lived with four of their five children and their daughter-in-law. They were one of only three families still living in the village. Many had moved away because the community was isolated and lacked basic facilities, including a sanitary outhouse.

With the exception of his eldest daughter, Nmi, who lived in the neighboring village, Laal and his family worshiped traditional gods. Nmi, however, had married a man in a neighboring village, and they both began a relationship with Jesus. Nmi shared what she learned about Jesus with her father, but he chose not to listen.

An Interesting Proposal

One day, two Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries, Gavi and Taani, proposed a plan to have a sanitation facility constructed for Laal and his family, a gift made possible through the church’s Christmas gift distribution.

By December, the new sanitation facility was constructed. Local Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported pastors Baru and Naba, along with Gavi and Taani, hosted its inauguration. The pastors also explained why the community of believers went out of their way to provide services like a sanitation system for their neighbors. Laal’s family and community now had access to life-changing sanitation.

Surprising Benefits of a Toilet

Fifteen days after the facility opened, Laal asked Pastor Baru and the two women to visit his family at home. When they arrived, Laal greeted them with an announcement: He had made the decision to know and love Christ. Pastor Baru prayed for Laal and his family. The whole family recognized the peace of God that followed.

Now, Laal and the rest of his family join his daughter Nmi in attending the local fellowship, where they continue to learn more about Jesus.

What began as a gift of a much-needed sanitation facility soon led to the gift of friendship with the neighboring community of believers.


Click here to read of another family blessed with a toilet.

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are Gospel for Asia stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.


Source: Gospel for Asia Reports, A Toilet Brings Unexpected Blessings

Learn how to help protect people’s health, prevent diseases and help cure illnesses through donating towards Medical Camps, Mosquito Nets and Outdoor Toilets.

Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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December 28, 2017

Ten Thousand Toilets - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
While the western world is aflush in adequate or fancy commodes like this one, nearly two-thirds of the people on this planet do not have access to the convenience of a proper toilet facility.

Gospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas

One of the first questions that real estate agents broach upon meeting a potential buyer or seller is “How many bathrooms do you need” or “… do you have,” as the case may be.

As commonplace as that may be for most reading this article, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4.5 billion people “either have no toilet at home or (have) one that doesn’t safely manage excreta.”

Think for a moment. Let that number sink in. That is about 60% of the total global population. While Americans and most of the western world are flush with adequate, even fancy commodes and sanitary wastewater systems, nearly two-thirds of the people on this planet do not have access to the convenience of a proper toilet facility.

access to proper toilet facility - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

It is estimated that nearly a billion of those with limited or no access to private or public toilet facilities practice open defecation. That is, they must find a place to go, whether it is in an open field, near a bush, along roadsides and railways, or in some corner away from the crowd.

It is not a matter of people not desiring or feeling a need for privacy. It is simply that facilities do not exist for the safe disposal of human excrement. Nor do the impoverished have the means to build a private facility whether inside or outside of their home.

Gospel for Asia Strives to Improve Sanitation

Think of this not merely as a problem but as a daily problem for 60 percent of the world. GFA is participating with the likes of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, national, regional and local governments, and non-governmental agencies to work toward eliminating this demoralizing, demeaning, and dangerous sanitary problem.

Gospel for Asia just recently released a nearly 4,000-word Special Report entitled Saving Lives at Risk from Open Defecation Using Outdoor Toilets to Improve Sanitation. In it we research and detail many of the problems that are being addressed by various organizations, including GFA, with solutions aimed at resolving this primary concern for so many people.

In 2016 alone, Gospel for Asia helped to construct more than 10,500 toilets, providing healthier, more sanitary conditions for those previously exposed to the menace of open defecation. But we have no time to rest on our laurels or give ourselves a pat on the back. Ten thousand toilets is not enough to make a serious dent in the problem. We have helped but we need to continue to help and we need to do more to rescue families from poverty and bring Christ’s love to them. Toilets provide dignity, safety, health, enable education and empower communities.

The Need Is Greater than the Perception

The problem is simple to understand. The ramifications are far deeper. Diseases caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kill 1.4 million children per year. That is more than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined.

Open defecation is a primary source of or contributor to widespread illness and death. Insects attracted to the feces become carriers of diseases that are unheard of where sanitation systems are in place.

sanitary conditions - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia helped to construct more than 10,500 toilets in 2016, providing healthier, more sanitary conditions for those previously exposed to the menace of open defecation.

Like the cycle of poverty that we pray to be able to eradicate, these diseases cycle through individuals, families, and communities, adding to their collective debilitation as one disease after another is transmitted, driving the impoverished into yet more dire circumstances.

Gospel for Asia is determined to stand in the gap and to minister “unto the least of these” who have no apparent help or hope. For them, a toilet is a both a necessity and an unaffordable luxury. God’s people doing God’s work can supply the sanitary needs of countless hurting people who have no other way.

Diseases caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kill 1.4 million children per year.

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November 19, 2017

Gospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas

World Toilet Day, established for November 19th by the UN in 2013, coincides with the 2001 creation of the World Toilet Organization, an organization aimed at raising awareness about and addressing the need for toilets all around the world.

Since Gospel for Asia’s field partners started constructing toilets in 2012, we have helped provide more than 28,000 of these facilities across many Asian nations, including Nepal and India—10,512 of which were constructed in 2016 alone. It’s an exciting thing to be able to come alongside impoverished families and give them a little dignity.

On Oct. 2, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat (Clean India), an initiative to clean India in multiple ways, including the goal of eliminating open defecation in the nation by Oct. 2, 2019—the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.

We are proud to be a small part of impacting families, transforming communities and enabling education (more on that later) through toilets.

Gospel for Asia’s field partners regularly inaugurate new toilets, like they did for Mae and her family. Here’s her story.

The Testimony of a Toilet

Like many others in their village, Reuel, Mae and their family had no toilet facility and had to use the open field early in the morning. They especially struggled during the rain. Mae often felt unsafe and uneasy having to go out in the open, visible to any prying eye, but she had no other choice. Although Reuel and Mae made plans to construct a toilet of their own, they couldn’t come up with the funds to start the project.

Mae and her family, overjoyed - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Mae and her family [pictured] were overjoyed when their church constructed a toilet for them. Now they have a private and safe place to use the restroom.
 But they weren’t alone. Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported pastor Vikranta was Mae’s pastor. He had the joy of nurturing and watching the family grow in the Lord and learn to love Him more. As he cared for their spiritual needs, Pastor Vikranta also saw this family struggle in poverty. Pastor Vikranta aimed to change this, and he requested a toilet to be built for them outside their home. During construction, excitement unfolded among the villagers, and many asked Pastor Vikranta to build them a toilet, too. As the walls of the toilet went up, their desire increased to hear more about Jesus and His love. Encouraging those who lived nearby to use the helpful gift whenever it was needed, Mae told her neighbors, “Our church has built the sanitation [toilet] for us.”After the long-awaited toilet was completed, Reuel and his family were overjoyed and deeply grateful. God fulfilled their hope and need of safe sanitation through the prayer and resources of the Gospel for Asia (GFA) community and its partners worldwide. Not only does this family have a safe place to use the restroom, but the toilet stands as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to those in their sphere of influence. It is setting a pathway for many to find the true hope of Jesus and His cleansing love.

2.4 billion Still Have No Toilet

Did you know that to this day, some 2.4 billion people worldwide—about one-third of the planet—still don’t have access to adequate sanitation facilities? Bringing that number to zero by 2030 is one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

But seriously—2.4 billion people?

When I was a kid, I enjoyed our rustic camping trips. There were places we went where we had to use a trowel because there were no toilets for miles. That was an interesting novelty, part of the experience.

the only sanitation facility in this village - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
This is the only sanitation facility (or restroom) in this village.

But I never had to worry about men coming and attacking me. I wasn’t concerned about finding someone else’s mess. My biggest concern was usually avoiding bug bites in awkward places and making sure I kept my clothes clean in the process.

I could handle it for a few days, but I was always thankful to have a porcelain seat once we got back home. I can’t imagine having to go outside every single day. Rain or shine, snow or wind, mosquito swarms and prickly grass.

And that’s to say nothing of the mess.

Bacteria, parasites and viruses breed rampant in areas which have been used as toilet fields for years. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people around the world are affected by soil-transmitted parasites due to inadequate sanitation.We’re talking worms, here.

People squat directly into rivers that others bathe in, wash in, and get their drinking water from. It’s no wonder nearly 1,000 children die from sanitation and polluted-water-related deaths every day.

A toilet is a lot more than dignity. It means safety from diseases, from attacks, from bugs and harsh weather. But toilets also impact education in ways not many people may realize.

Toilets and Education

Did you know that toilets directly impact education, especially for girls?

Think about it.

People all over the world have picked up a practice that may be detrimental for their health: holding it.

Without convenient access to a bathroom, countless women deliberately drink insufficient water just so they won’t have to urinate later in some public place. There is this powerful video produced by WaterAid about a woman living in a slum who, among other things, has trained her body to only go once per day so she won’t have to do it more often.

lack of proper sanitation facilities - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia-supported workers are providing toilets for many communities all across Asia.

Our bodies are meant to go several times a day! When we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated, which means headaches, difficulty concentrating, and decreased performance in school.

Dehydrated children cannot focus as well. They struggle. They fall behind. They should be drinking, but many don’t want to because of inadequate toilets.

And then girls hit puberty.

Every month comes a few days when young women need easy access to a safe place. But if they don’t get it, many stay home until the way of women has passed. That means teenage girls might start missing out on a quarter of their schooling. It’s no wonder so many in toilet-deprived areas fall behind and eventually drop out.

Now, amazingly, global drop-out rates between boys and girls are leveling out on the whole, but they still remain skewed in regions without proper sanitation. This is tragic when you consider the tremendous global push for education and empowering women. Awareness of the need for toilets in this equation has been increasing through the years, and we praise God for that. In fact, it seems that will be one of the topics at this year’s World Toilet Summit.

There are clear trends in data showing that how every year a child stays in school means higher income for that young man or woman as they grow up, which generally means a higher standard of living and greater benefit to their nations.

Here at GFA, we care about children’s education, and those kids care where they go to the bathroom. Check out this story about young sisters Prema and Neha who labored together to provide a home with a toilet for their parents.

Grateful for Toilets

Toilets provide dignity, safety, health, enable education and empower communities.

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June 3, 2022

WILLS POINT, TX – Gospel for Asia (GFA World and affiliates like Gospel for Asia Canada) founded by KP Yohannan, issued a Special Report on the ugly truths of world hunger: “Scandal of Starvation” — world hunger is a long-term social and global crisis, directly or indirectly causing around 9 million deaths each year – more than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Food loss / waste infographic
Hunger remains one of the most urgent and challenging problems of our globe, yet the world is producing more than enough food. Recovering just half of what is lost or wasted could feed the world alone. The FAO-led Save Food initiative is working to reduce food loss and waste in both the developing and the industrialized world. Photo by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The War on Waste

Thankfully, efforts are being made to cut the terrible waste. The World Union of Wholesale Markets, a nonprofit group representing more than 150 wholesale markets around the world, has committed to new collaboration with the U.N.-FAO to improve distribution. Only a fraction of the food business world may be involved in the initiative, but it’s a start.

Korger woman employee attending produce section
Will Kroger’s latest announcement regarding its Pickuliar Picks brand spur more retailers to step up and make an effort to minimize food waste? Photo by Kroger

Meanwhile, big businesses are recognizing the need to be better stewards. At a special gathering on reducing loss hosted by the International Food Policy Institute, Kroger executive Denise Osterhues spoke of her company’s steps in that area. The senior director for corporate affairs told how Kroger had begun marking down red-bagged produce when it neared expiration date, introduced a “Pickuliar Picks” line of imperfect produce, and developed clearer date labeling to help consumers make the most of their food purchases.

Like a growing number of other food retailers and servers, Kroger also donates surplus and past-date supplies to charitable organizations for redistribution. It gave away 90 million pounds of produce in 2018.

“It is a cruel, unjust and paradoxical reality that, today, there is food for everyone, and yet not everyone has access to it, and that in some areas of the world food is wasted, discarded and consumed in excess …”
Pope Francis, World Food Day 2019

Many different charitable organizations are eager to make use of produce that doesn’t get sold for one reason or another. In 2018, the 800 members of the Global FoodBanking Network alone distributed around half a million tons of food and grocery products.

At a plant in Sultana, in the heart of California’s breadbasket San Joaquin Valley, Gleanings for the Hungry recycles bruised and misshapen fruits and vegetables from growers in the area for shipping around the world. This ministry of Youth With a Mission (YWAM) takes its name from the directive in Leviticus 19 that the Israelites should not reap to the edges of their field, but leave the “gleanings” for the poor to gather up. For the last 40 years, Gleanings for the Hungry has processed and distributed millions of pounds of produce through partner organizations.

UglyFood co-founders
UglyFood co-founders divert fresh produce waste away from incineration plants and landfills by transforming it instead into healthy and delectable food products. Photo by UglyFood

In Singapore, Pei Shan co-founded Ugly Food to make use of the produce that shoppers ignore because it doesn’t look nice enough. Her company turns the rejected items into healthy juices, ice cream bars, and fruit teas.

“Ultimately, we want our business to create a conversation about ‘cosmetic filtering’ and to help others rethink what they consider as waste,” she says.

Feeding India’s Magic Wheels program is a fleet of trucks that collects unused food from canteens, wedding receptions, and other events for redistribution. The vehicles are equipped with temperature-controlled insulated boxes to keep the food fresh, and donors are given a liability release form to protect them. Feeding India has also set up Happy Fridges in residential and public spaces in 25 cities. The refrigerators are stocked free by donors, and available for anyone to come and take what they want, free of charge.

Launched in Delhi in 2014, the Robin Hood Army, a zero-funds organization that relies on volunteers to collect and distribute leftover food from restaurants and other businesses, has since served more than 26.5 million meals in more than 150 cities across a dozen countries.

Undernourishment and chronic hunger worldwide
Undernourishment and chronic hunger represent the inability of persons to consume enough food sufficient to meet dietary energy requirements. Photo by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

How Hunger Harms the Human Body

Nutrition is about more than just having enough to eat, though. It’s having the right things to eat. Sometimes a body may be seemingly well-fed, but actually starving of the nutrients it really needs.

More than 20 million babies born in 2015 had problematically low birthweight due to a lack of proper nutrition.That is why, though it seems almost contradictory, there has been an alarming rise in obesity, including in low-income countries in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South and East Asia. A U.N. study in Latin America and the Caribbean found that the percentage of people there with obesity had tripled since 1975, while hunger increased 11 percent in the last four years.

As a complex machine, the human body needs high-grade fuel to run well. Without it, systems start to break down. In parts of the world where food is scarce or of poor quality, the lack of vital vitamins and minerals has a serious impact.

Insufficient iron, a condition often made worse by malaria and other infectious diseases, makes pregnancy more risky and impairs physical and cognitive development. Lack of vitamin A can lower a person’s resistance to disease, impair growth in children and cause blindness. Lack of iodine is one of the major causes of reduced cognitive development in children.

All this lack of proper nutrition poses an especially severe threat to pregnant women and newborn babies: One in seven of 2015’s live deliveries—more than 20 million babies—had a problematically low birthweight.

As with all big social issues, hunger issues are complex.
Hunger is inextricably linked to poverty, which in turn can’t be separated from war, political unrest,
and prejudice. Millions starve because of others’
actions and inactions, without even taking
into account natural disasters.

A good diet is especially crucial in the first three years, when young brains and bodies are developing. Ironically, malnutrition is linked to a higher risk of being overweight and chronic diseases like diabetes in later life.

An article by Lauren Weber graphically illustrated the importance of a good diet’s importance. A photograph featured in the article showed a dramatic difference between two five-year-olds born on the same day in Madagascar: Miranto, a good student, stood more than a head taller than Sitraka, who was unable to attend school because he hadn’t yet learned to speak properly and had trouble being still for any length of time. The difference? Their diet.

Miranto and Sitraka standing beside each other, holding hands.
Miranto and Sitraka were born on the same day in the same village in Madagascar, but Sitraka is chronically malnourished which in turn has stunted his growth and hampered his ability to communicate, sit, or stand for any length of time. © UNICEF/UN025900/MICHEL

Sitraka was a victim of “stunting,” low height for age because of chronic nutrient deficiency. Like him, “most chronically malnourished children are shorter than their healthier peers,” she states.

In 2017, the UN found almost 151 million children under age 5 were too short for their age due to malnutrition. Africa and Asia accounted for 39 percent and 55 percent of all stunted children, respectively. Nearly 38 percent of children under 5 in India were found to be stunted in 2018, accounting for a third of the world’s total. The countries with the next-highest numbers were Nigeria and Pakistan.

Such children’s immune systems are weaker, “leaving them more susceptible to repeated infections. And their brains do not develop fully, leading to lower IQs and a decrease in lifetime productivity” said Weber.

“Wasting,” meanwhile, is evidenced by low body weight for age, with the associated reduced muscle mass leaving children at greater risk of death from what might otherwise be minor infections. In 2017, one in ten children in Asia was underweight for their age, compared to just one in 100 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Children eating food
A healthy, nutritious meal once each day is just one of the many benefits children receive while enrolled in GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program, which supports tens of thousands of kids throughout Asia.

Hunger’s Hidden Costs

The high cost of hunger might be seen better by evaluating its absence.

“In adulthood, per capita income of individuals who were not stunted at two years is higher compared to individuals who were stunted at two years,” said the U.N. “This increase comes about through the impact of improved nutrition on income through higher schooling and better cognitive skills. In fact, a reduction in global levels of stunting by 20 percent would represent a rise in income of 11 percent.”

Mother with children inside house
Being a widow in South Asia is not easy—in order to provide for their children, many widows are forced to beg on the streets or turn to prostitution.

Hunger doesn’t just endanger people’s physical and intellectual development. It can damage their souls as well as their organs.

After visiting Zimbabwe, a country ravaged by drought and a sluggish economy, Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, noted some other effects of food scarcity.

“The most vulnerable segments of society, including the elderly, children and women, are forced to rely upon coping mechanisms such as, school dropout, early marriage, and sex trade to obtain food, behavioral patterns that often are accompanied by domestic violence,” she said. “This kind of struggle for subsistence affects their physical well-being and self-respect. It creates behavior and conditions that violate their most fundamental human rights.”

In common with other big social issues, it’s women and children who are often worst affected by hunger. Young women need iron-rich food to replenish what’s lost during menstruation, or they will face anemia, which can lead to heightened incidence of maternal deaths and stillbirths. A World Food Programme (WFP) study found 15- to 19-year-old girls in one part of Uganda had anemia rates two to three times higher than the national average.

Malnutrition statistics of children worldwide
Photo by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The WFP report urged making greater efforts to keep adolescent girls in school and provide them with nutritious diets. A separate study by the organization found multiple benefits from school feeding programs in Indonesia. Enrollment, attendance, and understanding went up, while drop-out rates fell. The benefits went beyond the individual students and their futures, however.

Free school meals made limited household money available for other needs, which reduced the pressure on keeping kids away from school to help around the home or earn income. The study concluded that for every dollar invested in the feeding program there would be a five-fold return to the economy over the lifetime of each beneficiary.

As with all big social issues, hunger issues are complex. Hunger is inextricably linked to poverty, which in turn can’t be separated from war, political unrest, and prejudice. Millions starve because of others’ actions and inactions, without even taking into account natural disasters.

Free meals given out to children at the GFA Bridge of Hope center
Free school meals at Bridge of Hope make limited household money available for other needs, which reduces the pressure on keeping kids away from school to help around the home or earn income.

Malnutrition isn’t just a result of not having enough to eat, or even not having enough of the right things to eat. World Hunger notes that in many parts of Asia, “poor and insufficient sanitation and hygiene practices can increase the spread of disease and infection.” Two central sanitation issues contribute to up to half the cases of child malnourishment: the lack of access to clean water, and the presence of open defecation, which is still a problem in many parts of India. The elimination of the practice has been sought through a large-scale push of education and construction of community toilets undertaken by India’s government and non-profit groups such as Gospel for Asia (GFA).

In Ethiopia, a focus on ending open defecation helped to drastically improve nutrition levels and cut child stunting almost in half between 2000 and 2014, though the reduced 40 percent level remains “unacceptably high.”

The downward spiral of inadequate diet and poor sanitation and hygiene has been spotlighted in a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund report: “Diarrhea or infectious disease can cause loss of micronutrients or inhibit consumption of sufficient nutritional foods, weakening an individual to become more susceptible to severe illness, and thus exacerbating the micronutrient deficiency.”


Give Food, Aid to Victims of Hunger & Starvation

Learn about how to bring practical help in Jesus’ name to the suffering and needy, relieving the burdened, rescuing the endangered and revealing God’s compassion to the people of Asia through Gospel for Asia Compassion Services.


Read the rest of Gospel for Asia’s Special Report on The Scandal of Starvation in a World of Plenty: World Hunger’s Ugly Truths Revealed — Part 1, Part 3

This Special Report originally appeared on gfa.org.

Read another Special Report from Gospel for Asia on Poverty: Public Enemy #1 – Eliminating Extreme Poverty Worldwide is Possible, But Not Inevitable.

Learn more by reading this special report from Gospel for Asia: Solutions to Poverty-Line Problems of the Poor & Impoverished — Education’s Impact on Extreme Poverty Eradication.


Click here, to read more blogs on Patheos from Gospel for Asia.

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