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June 22, 2018

You can supply a bible to needy people in Asia - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
You can supply a bible to needy people in Asia! Click this image to find out how.

Every worker needs to be equipped with the tools to do their job. The most important thing when selecting a tool is to get the right tool for the job. Since the creation of Gospel for Asia, we have devoted ourselves to sharing God’s great love for the people of Asia.

Over the years, our partners have given generously to supply important tools for national workers ministering to the needs of those in Asia. Together we have been able to help supply much-needed tools, such as bicycles, projector kits, lanterns, generators, flip charts, mobile public-address systems and vehicles.

Each local worker has different needs, often depending upon where they live and minister. The right tools for a national worker in an urban area may be expected to be different than that for another in a remote village. The right tools for ministering in mountainous regions may be different still. However, there is one tool that is the right tool—even the most important tool—for any type of ministry. That tool is the Bible.

We live in a culture where having a Bible is pretty well taken for granted. Even those who are not Christians know Bible stories, often learned when young children. But the workers we help support in Asia are ministering in regions where not everyone is familiar with the Scriptures nor are copies readily available to them in their own language.

The Bible is the direct Word of God. Peter describes the writing of Scripture as never coming “by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

The Bible is the living Word of God. The writer of Hebrews says that “The Word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The Bible is the everlasting Word of God. The writers of the synoptic Gospels quoted Jesus saying that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

The Bible is the tool that leads to faith in God. “How shall they call on Him who they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they not hear without a preacher?” And “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:14,17).

The Bible is the tool that helps us grow in faith. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

Many in Asia do not have a Bible. They don’t simply lack a book, they lack a treasure that is filled with wisdom, instruction, encouragement and glimpses of the heart of their Creator. They are unable to search Scripture for themselves, and they have no way of sharing His Word with others.

Do you realize what the Word of God can do to change someone’s life for eternity? Surely, you know, but do you really understand? Here is the difference a Bible made in the lives of one young couple in Asia.

One Father's Offer: Get 6 Years of Salary If You Just Reject Jesus - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
You can share a Bible and the Word of God with Asia! Click this image to find out how.

Mahabala and his wife, Nitara, were unable to get a Bible in their own language. New in their love for Christ, they had no fellow believers to help them grow spiritually.

Adding even more hardship, Mahabala’s parents kicked them out of the family home because of their new faith.

Then they met Timothy, a GFA-supported national missionary. To encourage them, Timothy gave them a Bible provided through friends of GFA. They were so delighted to receive the Word of God, and they faithfully read it every day. They also began to attend worship services. As a result, their fellowship with Him increased day by day, and they became strong in their faith.

Then their commitment to Christ was severely tested. After Mahabala’s father kicked them out of his home, he used his influence to get his son fired. With the loss of Mahabala’s salary, the couple began selling their jewelry to pay the rent. In their culture, this was the last step before turning to begging.

But Mahabala’s father made an offer: If they would reject Jesus, he would give them the equivalent of 18 months of Mahabala’s previous salary. When Mahabala didn’t respond, his father doubled and quadrupled his offer. Yet Mahabala and Nitara decided to hold firm in their faith, even if it meant living in poverty.

You see, they had learned from their new Bible that their true riches were stored up in heaven and that following Christ was worth more than gaining the whole world.

Only God’s Word has that kind of power. His heart is for His Word to be known by new believers like Mahabala and Nitara—and by those who do not yet know He loves them so much He sent His Son to die in their place.

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June 15, 2018

Remarkable Fathers - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!” (Luke 11:11–12 NLT)

One of Jesus’ disciples had asked Him to teach them how to pray. On that occasion, Jesus gave them a format for prayer that some call “The Lord’s Prayer” and others refer to as “The Model Prayer.” Christ’s comment quoted above serves as an exclamation of how remarkable our Heavenly Father is.

Having just taught them to ask God for daily sustenance, Jesus used the illustration of how earthly fathers would respond to the same request from their own sons. He reasoned with them that if a father would gladly give his children the essentials of life how much more would a thrice-holy Father respond in goodness, grace and kindness?

We can infer that Jesus expected even sinful fathers would treat their children with kindness, although that kindness could not compare to the remarkable love of our Father in Heaven.

The Measure of a Remarkable Father

It doesn’t take a lot of Googling to discover that there is very little information about how to measure a father’s performance or success. That begs the question, then, of how to measure remarkable. A definition of the distinguishing adjective turned out to be a good starting point.

Good fathering - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaRemarkable means “notably or conspicuously unusual” and “worthy of notice or attention.” That being the case, it occurred to me the measurement of a remarkable father is done not by rank or percentile, but by comparison. That turns out to be fortunate for another reason. The only meaningful and applicable statistics on fathering appear to be relative to poor fathering. Governments, institutions and agencies don’t seem to measure good.

Good fathering is most easily defined as not being characterized by bad fathering. However, good fathering is significant because “About 80 percent of the world’s men and boys will become fathers in their lifetime. Their actions throughout their children’s lives can have profound effects for the good.” Here is a sampling of fathering statistics from the 2017 State of the World’s Fathers, prepared by MenCare, a global campaign to promote men and boys’ involvement as equitable, non-violent caregivers.

  • Between 133 and 275 million children per year witness different forms of violence in their home.
  • One-third of women around the world experience violence from “a male partner.”
  • 75 percent of children aged 2–14 experience “violent discipline” in the home.
  • Men who witness or experience violence as children are about 2.5 times more likely than others to perpetuate violence against partners later in life.

Assuming the correctness and continuity (no change in percentages) of the foregoing statistics, we would expect that more than 687 million men will be violent fathers in their homes by 2029.

Other compelling statistics that does not bode well for successful fathering come from the National Center for Fathering.

  • There are more than 24 million married fathers with children in the U.S.
  • The number of single-father households increased nearly nine-fold from 1960 to 2011 to 2.7 million.
  • The number of children with a father in prison increased by 77 percent from 881,500 in 1991 to 1.5 million in 2007.
  • 25 percent of working fathers spend less than an hour a day with their children.

A 2009 report from the National Center reported that:

  • Only 64 percent of those polled believed that American fathers “have a good picture of what it takes to be a good father.”
  • Only half believe that most fathers know “what is going on in their children’s lives.”
  • 97 percent believe that fathers need to be “more involved in their children’s education.”

The Missing Remarkable Fathers

The greatest amount of available statistical information about fathers documents the impact of absentee fathers. According to National Kids Count, 25 percent of children under the age of 18 live in a fatherless, single-parent home. That equates to 18 million children. Regardless of individual circumstances and outcomes, an article entitled “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America” sagely observes that:

Father Facts - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

“Children who grow up in fatherless homes have a greater risk of major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home.”

The U.S. Justice Department states that children from homes where there is no father present comprise:

  • 63 percent of all youth suicides
  • 70 percent of all juveniles in state-operated detention centers
  • 71 percent of all high school dropouts
  • 75 percent of all adolescents in substance abuse treatment
  • 80 percent of all rapists
  • 85 percent of all children exhibiting behavioral disorders
  • 90 percent of all runaways and homeless youth

Although the numbers may vary from one report to another, regardless of the organization compiling data, any variant stats are well within each other’s margin of error. And the statistics are disturbing.

In the face of discouraging data, it is interesting to discover that most fathers don’t think they are doing a good job, let alone a remarkable job. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 21.3 percent of 7,327 fathers polled believe that they are doing “a very good job.” In other words, a job that would distinguish them from others and, therefore, being remarkable.

  • 32.3 percent believed they are doing “a good job.”
  • 22.6 percent believed they are doing “an okay job.”
  • 23.8 percent believed they are “not doing a very good job.”

There is also encouragement from numerous surveys, including one from Woke Daddy that indicate that 62 percent of fathers want to do a better job of being a father.

The Making of Remarkable Fathers

We are now positioned to reason about our definition of “remarkable” as it applies to fatherhood. It would be specious to compare remarkable only to the statistical evidence of the state of fatherhood. What we can infer is that our society is in desperate need of remarkable fathers. Remarkable is not defined as not being numbered among the masses of delinquent fathers or even among the 21.6 percent who believe that they are doing a very good job.

The Making of Remarkable Fathers - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaRemarkable means “notably or conspicuously unusual.” That is above and beyond good or very good. We must establish a standard of what constitutes “conspicuously unusual.” Luke 11:13 is a good place to start. Without pausing, Jesus continued His illustration saying, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give?”

The standard for being a “remarkable father” is God the Father. Jesus did not hesitate to refer to His own disciples as “evil” fathers. He did not intend this to be a slap in their face. He was simply pointing out the truth. Peter, one of those to whom Christ spoke, recognized that the first step to becoming a remarkable father is to “be holy” (I Peter 1:16). In fact, Jesus asked the Father to “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Jesus asked the Father to make these “evil” fathers—and those of us who have followed—remarkable by their holiness and unity with Himself and our Heavenly Father.

It is important to emphasize that there is nothing in this context that would suggest that being a Christian is enough to be or equals being a remarkable father. It is simply a starting point because it positions earthly fathers with imputed righteousness and with the power of the Holy Spirit to become actively holy by forsaking the ways of the world and pursuing the purity of holiness.

The first and major “conspicuously unusual” measure for being a remarkable father is to be a born-again believer pursuing a holy life.

The evidence of a remarkable father is in that father’s faith, virtuous life, knowledge of the Word, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love.

“For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful” (2 Peter 1:5–8).

While the demonstration of these traits are distinctives of a remarkable father, they are that because they are first the characteristics of a remarkable person—one who has denied himself to follow Christ.

The Mistake of Searching for Remarkable Fathers

A search for truly remarkable fathers could be the wildest goose chase in history. It all comes back to being “conspicuously unusual.” That implies that our standard for measurement is how we compare to other fathers. How do we measure that?

The Mistake of Searching for Remarkable Fathers - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaWhile presence is certainly a factor, several men at a meeting I attended a few years ago about fatherhood might be inclined to disagree based on their horrendous experiences with “present fathers.” Nearly any other factor would be highly subjective as most personal comparisons are.

So, after having pursued the “conspicuously unusual” as remarkable, it’s time to turn the definition of remarkable on its head.

While we have used Scripture sparingly, both writer and readers know that there are many more passages that could help define the Lord’s acceptance of a remarkable father. In fact, that is the point. The only reliable measure of a remarkable father is the Word of God. The Word of God is truth, it is objective, and its standards never change. It is the Living Word of God who will ultimately judge our conformity to His image.

Many were offended by things Jesus said during His earthly ministry. He spoke frankly and in ways that were necessary to “expose people for who they really were and eliminate their pretentions to goodness.”[1]

Many are offended by the Word today because it is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to who we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12b–13).

Things That Matter

To be sure, there are things that matter to be an effective father if not a remarkable father. We may not be able to accurately measure our success as a father because, ultimately, our children become accountable for their own lives. Dr. James Dobson once described parenthood as the launching pad from which our children lift off. Our job is to ensure they are ready for launch when it is time for them to launch.

There are many aspects of fatherhood we can embrace that will keep the missile stable in preparation for launch. Those include, but are not limited to:

  1. Things That Matter - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

    Loving the Lord and evidencing it by living for Him. Only then will a father be able to effectively teach Biblical principles and watch their children embrace them in their lives.

  2. Loving the children’s mother. Their children must see that, whatever the situation, he always values her and treats her with respect and love.
  3. Openly admitting failure and accepting that failure is not final.
  4. Unconditional love and acceptance. A remarkable father loves his children—no matter what—and is a support and an encourager.
  5. Compassion and understanding. Realizing that the children will make mistakes, empathizing with them when they do, and using those occasions not to berate them but to guide them toward understanding the consequences of bad choices and to teach them how to make better ones.
  6. Being a protector. It is an ugly, sinful world out there with children surrounded by temptation and misinformation.
  7. Believing in them even when no one else does.
  8. Having a servant’s heart. Being a father is not about being a dominant, demanding force to be reckoned with. A father is servant of God who has the privilege of raising children to be His servants as well.
  9. Able to demonstrate the power of God working in his life, not just having a form of godliness. A father can instruct in all manner of good things, but it he does not demonstrate the power of God in a life that is remarkably different, what he has taught will be questioned at best and potentially be completed disregarded.
  10. Being sure and steadfast in faith, trust and obedience without question.

The Sum of the Matter

Being a remarkable father boils down to being a man who loves the Lord God with all his heart and soul and strength. When it is the aim of a man to bring honor and glory to God in all that he does, he will be a remarkable father, because, by God’s standards, he will be a remarkable man. Because he searches the Scripture so that the Scripture searches him, he will be continually learning how to be a remarkable father.

It would be naïve to believe that all Christians are remarkable fathers. It would be just as naïve to believe that we can judge who is and who is not a remarkable father. Even if we limited our search to Christian fathers, our path would eventually bend in the direction others have. Even in the best of fathers, we would find their flaws and evaluate them based on those flaws.

Every earthly father, even the best is flawed. But we can continue to press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, allowing Him to shape us into better fathers.

Our time would be best served not by searching for remarkable fathers but by being them.

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Sources:

[1] Table Talk, Ligonier Ministries, April 2018, page 52

For a good story or a father’s recovery from alcoholism, go here.

May 12, 2018

Wills Point, Texas – GFA (Gospel for Asia) – Women hold up half the sky, and other mother’s day topics from Karen Mains, Gospel for Asia blog contributor

The recent death of Barbara Bush—a consummate mother and grandmother—reminded me of learning plug-ins that can also dramatically shift the future trajectory of others. There have only been two women who have been both the wife of a President of the United States and a mother of a President of the United States. Abigail Adams was one; Barbara Bush was the other.

The news media has spent an amazing amount of time in tributes and testimonies of friends and political associates about this woman who died at age 92. In fact, I can’t remember another president’s wife (not even Jacqueline Kennedy) who, upon death, has received so many accolades. Most comment on her warmth and hospitality, her acerbic wit, her political instincts, the way she “called it as she saw it,” and the long love affair with her husband of 73 years, George H. W. Bush.

Some have dubbed Barbara Bush “America’s Matriarch.” When asked why she had gained America’s favor, she replied, “My mail tells me that a lot of fat, white-haired, wrinkled ladies are tickled pink. I mean, look at me—if I can be a success, so can they.” When the Bushes left the White House, she had an astonishing 86 percent approval rating.

The recent death of Barbara Bush…reminded me of learning plug-ins that can also dramatically shift the future trajectory of others.

What impresses me about Barbara Bush is the interest she had in illiteracy before she came to the White House, during her time as the president’s wife, and after he lost the election for a second term. This would be an example of a “plug-in” educational issue, learning not demanding formal schooling but absolutely essential for the future success of a growing child. One needs to know how to read.

Bush helped to pass the National Literacy Act, which focused on teaching millions of American adults to read, and she also founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, which encouraged reading and writing in low-incomes households (for both child and parent). Partnering with local organization, more than $110 million has been made available for the purpose of expanding literacy programs across the country. According to ProLiteracy, just in the United States:

  • 36 million adults cannot read or write above the third-grade level.
  • 68 percent of literacy programs are struggling with long waiting lists, and less than 10 percent of adults in need are receiving service.
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.
  • Low literacy costs the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the work force, crime and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
  • 43 percent of adults with the lowest literacy levels live in poverty.
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate.

One needs to know how to read. Using the local church again as a baseline because of its parish membership consisting predominately of people who are concerned about the good and about doing good, what if five volunteers from each church in a town or village or rural hamlet or big city would seek to take tutoring training for helping parents (and their kids) develop reading skills—what could happen? What if that team of five people found out what kind of waiting list existed in their communities and then began to recruit reading tutors from their social affiliations to reduce the list? What if . . .?

Ten years ago, David and I received a letter from a friend, an M.D., who with his wife, a nurse, returned home from Africa where they had been working in the HIV/AIDS epidemic to co-lead Medical Ambassadors International, a faith-based, world health organization. The letter read: “We are wondering if either Karen or David would be able to serve on the board of MAI. Particularly, we are wondering if Karen would be able to serve because our board of directors is all men, and we need to find capable women who are experienced and qualified to work along with them.”

Well, who could resist an invitation such as that? I gladly agreed to serve on the board of MAI. Every year, the International Council (IC), field leaders from all over the planet, of all nationalities, gather in the States to confer with one another, visit their supporting donors and attend an international health conference that has value to all. At the very first IC gathering I attended, preceded by a directors’ meeting, I chatted with the woman who had graciously opened her home to our group of about 35 people and was also, with a team of volunteers (some wives of the board members), providing our meals.

“Oh, I want to show you something,” she said and pulled her laptop computer to a clear spot in her very crowded dining room. It was a home video of a teaching in another country involving local women.

“This is the Women’s Cycle of Life teaching unit,” she explained.

I knew some things about MAI, but my learning curve was to be long and arduous in the days ahead. I knew that Medical Ambassadors had moved from the clinic-treatment model to a preventive-health care model that prevented some 80 percent of the diseases before they became clinical. I had even taken a week-long training of trainers session that exposed me to the non-lecture teaching methodology that had been developed, field tested across the world, enculturated and, at this time, was present for the taking-down off the web free to all—some thousands of lessons. I also knew that the teaching model was based on a participatory model, not a lecture model, incorporated dramatic enactments by the students, was designed using orality principles because many of those being trained were either illiterate or semi-illiterate.

Using a system of questions, the trainees discovered answers to the health lessons for themselves. This process gave them a heightened sense of ownership. Charlene, the designer of the Women’s Cycle of Life (WCL), had been a former public health nurse and had adapted many of those lessons she taught in her California job to the Medical Ambassadors teaching formula, called CHE (Community Heath Education). In essence, WCL was everything a woman needed to know about her own body, her own health, her own reproductive system from the womb to the tomb.

“How much is this being used internationally?” I wondered and gathered from her response that the answer was, “Not much.”  My next question was: “What does this need to go international?” We talked about it a little and decided that a WCL international director funded full-time would give the program the boost it needed, at least as a start. At the next board meeting, I spoke to my new friends around the table, who indeed, were all men, all well-meaning, intelligent and good hearted.

Women hold up half the sky according to the Chinese proverb.

“Do you know what we are sitting on? I mean, after all, women hold up half the sky according to the Chinese proverb.”

It didn’t take much advocacy, and in an amazingly short time, a director was hired: a nurse who had a Ph.D. in community health. She launched the WCL training of trainers and started pushing the Women’s Cycle of Life program outside its U.S. confinements.

I had nothing to do with developing this program, knew nothing about the program, but was in the right place at the right time to become an advocate for the program. Women’s Cycle of Life has gone worldwide. Men from many countries watching their wives learning from WCL have requested something similar: a men’s cycle of life.

I’m proud of the gentlemen sitting at that Board of Directors table who so quickly responded to my prodding. Being an advocate for the Women’s Cycle of Life program is one of the best things I’ve done in my whole life.

Being an advocate for the Women’s Cycle of Life program is one of the best things I’ve done in my whole life. As WCL was launching, the field director in Ethiopia, a woman—whom I told rides her motorcycle through traffic in Addis Ababa—along with the wife of the executive director of MAI trialed a program for women. In two sessions, some 42 women were invited for a week-long WCL training. For many, this was the first time they had left their homes, had someone else cook their meals or stayed in a dormitory setting with other women. They gobbled up the training, and because they were Christians, they were impacted by the Scripture integrated into each unit of teaching—childbirth, for instance, conception, hygiene, etc. After four months, oral interviews were conducted (many on camera) with those who had received the WCL training. Those 42 women had taught a cumulative total of some 1,600 lessons to other women.

Now, if I were going to radically transform Mother’s Day (which realistically, I know I probably won’t be able to do), I would ask some well-meaning families who love their moms to reconsider taking some of that $23.6 billion retailer’s spend on Mother’s Day and use it in a way that really, really, really makes a difference for other remarkable mothers, or remarkable mothers-to-be, or the mothers who want to be remarkable all around the world.

I’d encourage a look into literacy training in an interested party’s home town.

I’d check out Nicholas Kristoff and Cheryl Wu Dunn’s book, A Path Appears, which in 315 pages gives examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the States and across the world. Pages 316-317 list “Six Steps You Can Take in the Next Six Minutes”, one of which is “Consider supporting an early childhood program.  That might mean giving to Reach out and Read, which for $20 can take on a new child and introduce him or her to the joys of reading.” Then, this husband and wife writing team provide comprehensive lists of organizations they trust as suggestions for further involvement (other than just Mother’s Day).

You know, there are other possibilities we might explore as a family this Mother’s Day.

Or a woman might say to herself, You know, there are other possibilities we might explore as a family this Mother’s Day.

Go to the Gospel for Asia website, www.gfa.org and order a free copy of the book No Longer a Slumdog, which tells the incredible story of India’s neglected and forgotten slum children. Reading this book is a means of educating yourself as far as the incredible difficulties of slum children in India and the possibilities that exist to sponsor one of these desperate children who have little hope and a very bleak future without intervention through education in a Bridge of Hope center.

I will never forget the day, visiting in Calcutta, walking down the busy streets and seeing a boy, about eleven years of age, sleeping alone on the hard, concrete sidewalk. I promise you that this book, written by Dr. KP Yohannan, will give you a heart of passion for the “slumdogs” of the world.

Then map out a Mother’s Day plan. Figure out how you or your friends or your women’s group or your mother and your daughter who is also a mother can transform this day so that it is really special.

Let me know what you do.

Let me know what you think.

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Read my prior two blogs on this topic: Part 1 | Part 2

 

April 26, 2018

waterGospel for Asia (GFA), Wills Point, Texas, Special Report 4/4 on a Christ-like response to the global clean water crisis.

What Scripture Has to Say About Water

It is intriguing, in light of the fact that 71 percent of our Earth is covered by water, that Scripture has a great deal to say on the topic. One commentator suggests that water is mentioned 722 times in the Bible. This total is less than the mentions of God, Jesus, heaven or love, but more than faith, hope, prayer or worship. In Genesis it says: “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters The name of the first is Pishon … The name of the second river is the Gihon … The name of the third river is the Tigris … And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”

For those of us with a Sunday School background, the stories dealing with water are memorable: Moses parting the Red Sea as the children of Israel fled the pursuing chariots of the Egyptians. Moses striking the rock at Horeb so that water flowed in the wilderness to satisfy the thirst of the people and of their flocks.

Refugees wait for water in a camp in Dadaab, Somalia - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Refugees waiting to get water and satisfy their thirst in a camp in Dadaab, Somalia.

Wells are central stages for story-telling dramas: Abraham’s servant finds a bride for Isaac after praying near a well, “Oh, Lord God of my master, Abraham, give me success today and show kindness to my master.” Jesus declares His spiritual authority to a Samaritan woman by a well. “Will you give me a drink?” He asks, to begin a dialogue with her, and then eventually He declares, “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14, NIV).

Rivers are forded, oases with pools satisfy weary nomads and their families, and always, over and over, water is used as an example of God’s blessing. “And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones. And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail” (Isaiah 58:11, NASB).

Water is used as an example of the sacramental, where the holy mixes mysteriously with the physical. People flock to John the Baptist in the wilderness to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins: “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11, NIV).

The heavens open after Jesus is baptized, the Spirit descends in the bodily form of a dove, and a voice is heard declaring, “You are My beloved Son; in you I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22, NKJV).

Water is a symbol of cleansing, not only in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense. Jesus walks on the water. He teaches by the shores of the seas. Some of His disciples are fishermen who gained their livelihood from waters’ depths. In the last chapters of Revelation, which many theologians feel is a prophetic picture of Eden being restored again, these words bring the water theme to a close. Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, the first verse: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

A Christ-like Response to the Global Clean Water Crisis

It is a comfort, to know the fragility of our water sources around the globe is taken into account. Because of community involvement and the compassion of pastors from Believers Eastern Church and other affiliate organizations, Dr. K.P. Yohannan spearheaded the “Jesus Well” project among some of the neediest regions in India, even small villages across Asia, spanning multiple Asian nations. In 2016 alone, Gospel for Asia was able to help provide 6,822 wells. That is 6,822 sources of clean, fresh drinking water. GFA supporters around the world have allowed the rate of installation of Jesus Wells to continue and to remain consistent, with tens of thousands of wells drilled and constructed in the past several years. Now, the Jesus Well project is one of the largest clean water initiatives in the world.

A Jesus Well is being dug in India - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
A Jesus Well is being drilled next to a church building. This is the first well dug in the village.

Here, there are no broken wells laying waste and abandoned because well-meaning but neglectful charities dug wells that villagers could not maintain or repair. Jesus Wells are maintained in good repair by GFA-supported local pastors. In fact, wherever possible, the wells are dug near local churches, not simply so that they will be maintained, but so that the beneficiaries will recognize that our love for them is genuine, because everyone is able to drink freely—no matter their income or social background.

Digging a Jesus Well supports the local economy, because local labor and materials are used to drill the wells. This keeps costs low, often even seven times lower than wells installed by other organizations.

Jesus Wells are drilled up to 650 feet deep to ensure a continuous supply of clean water. They can last for 20 years and provide clean water for an average of 300 people every day. Some wells serve even more at a cost of $1400 apiece, and provide practical solutions to our global clean water crisis.

Watch a time-lapse video of an Asian village using a Jesus Well »

BioSand water filters provide 98% pure drinking water - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Though simple in construction, BioSand water filters are easy to use and provide water that is 98 percent pure.

In regions where water might be available, 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 the water to remove impurities, providing water for drinking and cooking that is 98 percent pure. In 2016, GFA provided 14,886 BioSand water filters for families and individuals.

Gospel for Asia published a story in 2016 that shared the paradox faced by four villages in one region of South Asia. These communities faced severe water shortage during the hot, summer months, but in the rainy monsoon season their water sources were contaminated by chemicals. Their situation was an echo back to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem: “Not a drop to drink.” Local congregations in the region were concerned about the people and their need for clean water, and in 2014, GFA helped drill four Jesus Wells to provide safe, pure water for these villages. By God’s grace, there are now more than 5,000 people who benefit from these wells!

Christ-like Response to the Global Clean Water Crisis - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
A woman pumps water from a Jesus Well.

A Jesus Well Transformed Salil’s Family

Salil and his family in north east Asia - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
Salil (pictured) lives in a northeastern region of Asia with his wife and three children.

The staggering weight of the global clean water crisis is beyond the ability of most of us to wrap our minds around. Still, more than 150 million people in South Asia alone have either no immediate access to clean water or drink from polluted sources.

But the clean water problem can be devastating for a single family. We see this illustrated in the story of a gentleman named Salil, his wife and his children. Until a Jesus Well was installed in their village, all the water for the community came from a nearby contaminated pond. Salil’s family and the other villagers were sick with a plethora of illnesses and diseases. They suffered because of the very water they depended on for life.

The situation drove them even deeper into poverty as their illnesses kept them from work, and their meager income was not adequate to provide for the medicines they needed—let alone their other essential needs. Salil did everything he could think of to provide for his family, but nothing he did was adequate.

When a local pastor requested and received a Jesus Well for the community, everything changed. A thankful Salil said, “Our family is blessed both physically and spiritually. We are free from problems and sickness.”

How appropriate: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42, NIV). Those who receive are blessed, and those who give are blessed. The accompanying video will give you a feel for just what that means.

So, our Blue Planet spins in space, obedient to its determined orbit. Its surface is covered by 71 percent water. So far, there has been no confirmed verification of liquid water existing on any other planet in our solar system. As yet, not a single drop of water has been detected anywhere in interstellar space, and scientists have determined that only a planet of the right mass, the right chemical composition and the right location can support liquid water. Let us remember that it is good. It is very good.

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Give Towards Clean Water Projects

You can provide life-saving water to people in Asia suffering from the global clean water crisis through Jesus Wells and BioSand water filters, and help support ongoing maintenance of these clean water projects.

This material appeared in Gospel for Asia’s special report “The Global Clean Water Crisis: Finding Solutions to Humanity’s Need for Pure, Safe Water.”

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Read Special Report 1/4 – Introduction to the Global Clean Water Crisis

Read Special Report 2/4 – The Global Clean Water Crisis Exists in America, Too

Read Special Report 3/4 –

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April 2, 2018

GFA School of Discipleship: More of Christ, Less of Me - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaGospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas — Every institution, organization or program claim they exist because of differences that make them distinctive. The rationale is reasonable. The significance is not the difference. It is the distinctives.

There are two Scripture verses that eloquently describe what makes GFA School of Discipleship (SD) distinctive and, therefore, different.

John 3:30– “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Matthew 22:37-39– “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Though not officially parts of a motto or tagline, these texts are existential explanations for the School of Discipleship. They also represent the day-to-day value in the year-long discipleship program designed to train young Christian people who are hungry for God and who desire to serve Him.

More of Christ. Less of Me.

GFA School of Discipleship: More of Christ, Less of Me - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaTrue discipleship happens in a relationship where self is set aside to follow the Master. This is exactly what happened when Jesus called His disciples to follow Him. They immediately left their vocations, homes and opportunities to “hang out” with Jesus. His invitation was, “Follow me,” which they did. Peter left his fishing boat. Matthew left his tax collection table. They all left their proverbial plow in the field to become disciples of Christ.

The path to genuine discipleship always begins with more of Christ and less of me. “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Learning to Love Jesus with Every Part of Your Life

The Christian life is not divided into the secular and the sacred. For a Christian, all ground is sacred ground. Everything in which we engage our heart, our soul and our minds must center on Christ. Whether it is our emotions, our will or our intellect, all must belong to Christ. It is a discipline not easily learned in the 21st century.

School of Discipleship - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaBy the way, did you notice the word, “discipline?” It’s practically the same as “disciple.” You might say that becoming a disciple is learning the disciplines required to be one. In fact, the GFA School of Discipleship is geared to help students build spiritual disciplines, such as making prayer part of our lifestyle. When we do that, we begin to see the Lord at work in our lives in everything we do. That’s what Solomon meant when he said that when we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will direct our paths (Proverb 3:6). And we will see Him doing it.

One of the ways we see Him directing our paths is when we selflessly yield ourselves to serving others. The passage in Matthew explains this. We love Him first. When we do, we will be abled to selflessly love others.

“Serving the Lord at GFA is a privilege I do not deserve, yet by God’s grace, He has given me the opportunity to be part of this community of believers to bring Him glory. I am an unworthy servant.” –Billy, SD graduate

Experience Authentic Christian Community

Can you imagine what it is like to live amidst a group of authentic Christians, all loving Jesus with every part of their lives? That’s what Heaven will be like–everyone who loves Christ serving Him together.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” That is what the experience of living in an authentic Christian community looks like:

  • learning from people who love the Lord and have served Him for years.
  • laboring together through difficult and complex issues in a patient and godly manner.
  • living with people who love you with Christ’s love for now and eternity, no matter what.

At GFA School of Discipleship, students learn how to love their neighbors by observing how their neighbors love them both in and out of the classroom. You won’t just learn from people who teach it. You will learn from people who live it.

K.P. Yohannan and the other leaders desire to build up the Body of Christ, and also to build up the lives of the staff and students. In my own life, I can say that I am so grateful for their godly example and their love for the Lord—and for me.” –Elicia, SD graduate

Becoming Part of Something Bigger than Self

Discipleship is not limited to learning. It is lived by doing things that would be impossible without the love and power of God working through us.

You may think of yourself as just an ordinary person, but one who wants to do more for the Lord. You may think God can’t use you to do mighty things, or you may not know how. Gospel for Asia (GFA) School of Discipleship was established to demonstrate how God uses common people to accomplish uncommon things.

School of Discipleship - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaStudents in the School of Discipleship become part of one of the world’s largest mission organizations. You will see your life make an impact on others who are in the 10/40 window halfway around the world. Gaining a global perspective on helping others know the love of Christ will open your eyes to understanding that the Lord can–and wants to–use you wherever you go and in whatever you do.

“It has been a joy to serve with GFA, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures the Lord gets us into. It will be a blessing to see what God will do through each individual here as we work with the rest of the Body of Christ to see people transformed.” –Sharlena, SD graduate

Early Enrollment Incentives Available

If the distinctive differences of GFA School of Discipleship are what you have been seeking, now is the time to save by taking advantage of our early enrollment incentives. Applications for the term starting August 2018 must be completed by June 15, 2018. Or, you can save by being

An Early Bird – Apply by April 15 and save $300!

Ready to Apply?

You can submit your application online right now. There is no application fee. However, you will be asked to create an account and log in. You may also start your application, pause and return to complete it later.

Want to Learn More?

Request a School of Discipleship Information Kit online.

Still Have Questions?

We are available to help you if you have any questions or problems with the application. Feel free to call the Student Recruitment department at 972-300-3314 or email at school@gfa.org.

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March 28, 2018

Holding the Broken Body of Christ, by Karen Burton Mains

On Good Friday, 1993, around noon, I slipped into the chapel of the nearby Episcopal church where I prayed weekly for an hour or so and was surprised by something I saw. Someone had positioned a low table before the altar. On it was set a linen cloth, a small crucifix, a pottery chalice filled with wine, and an earthenware plate holding Communion wafers.

A woman bustled in the nearby sacristy.

I called out to her, “What a wonderful aid to prayer!”

Often when my mind is wandering, it helps to have some token on which to fix my eyes. Postcards sent by friends are tucked in my desk organizer, a fixed point of beauty from which to build a center for concentration.

“Did you arrange this?” I asked.

Still finishing her tasks, she paused, calling back that the Communion elements were brought from the previous evening’s Maundy Thursday service as a reminder to keep vigil over the broken body of Christ. Then, her work completed, she left me to the silence.

Since 1993, I Have Learned to Observe Good Friday on My Knees - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

At several points in our lives, my husband, David Mains, and I found ourselves between churches. For six years we attended a black suburban congregation, and before that, we became members at an Episcopal church in the nearby town west of where we live. Since nearly 25 percent of the radio audience of the media ministry my husband headed—broadcasting some 500 times a day, some six days a week—were from liturgical churches (and we knew nothing about liturgy or the Episcopal church), we decided that we needed to expose ourselves in some way to these branches of Christendom.

The rector (pastor) of a nearby Episcopal church was evangelical and an excellent biblical communicator who welcomed our attendance and our participation. He was also an attentive liturgical coach for those of us who had not before been exposed to living by the church calendar, for instance, or with no sacramental understanding of the Eucharistic service. We became part of a small group with him—all of us involved in ministry in some way. So I became exposed to regular healing services and the anointing with oil, to personal confession with a spiritual advisor, to the three-year cycle of Scripture readings called the Lectionary and to the services of feasting and fasting and saints’ days and high holy days included in the Book of Common Prayer. I learned that the Episcopal church, or the Anglican church worldwide, was predominately evangelical and black.

In time, I became moved by the thought that the Sunday liturgy I had experienced that very week also had participants in time zones after time zones after time zones who, because of the uniformity of The Book of Common Prayer, had read the same words and prayers as had I.

This liturgical learning expanded the truths I had absorbed in the Conservative Baptist upbringing of my past. In a way, each informed the other. For instance, the Protestantism of my past sort of rushes into Easter. Yet churches that observe the calendar year of holy remembrances traditionally begin to “set their faces” toward Jerusalem with a Maundy Thursday meal and a foot-washing ceremony—this based on Christ’s last supper with His disciples in the Upper Room.

When nothing holds the Heart - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Somehow, during our hiatus at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, I never was able to make these services; the subway train of crammed living always jostled aside my good intentions. So my crucifixion vigil usually begins not in the Upper Room, but in the Garden of Gethsemane. I will not pretend that I didn’t rush, somewhat breathless, to the observation of this point on the church calendar. However, in the years since 1993, I have learned to observe Good Friday on my knees.

During that moment of prayer in the little chapel of St. Mark’s, a few people came and went, but I was pinned to the thought, How can I leave and go on with my regular routines if there is no one else who will keep vigil over the body of Christ? And after a while, all my prayer companions slipped away. If I leave, I thought, who will keep vigil over this broken body of Christ? Could I not watch one more hour? So because of the quiet, because of the uninterrupted time, because of the elements on the little table before the alter—a goblet holding wine, a basket holding bread wrapped in a white napkin—I felt impelled to stay and watch. I had no place I needed to be, no responsibilities haunting me. My college-age children were all occupied; my husband was away from home traveling.

Yes, I decided. I could watch. I could pray until someone came to take my place. I recalled the Scripture of that first Good Friday.

                        He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed saying,

                        “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me;

                        Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to

                   The disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter,

                        “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?”

—Matthew 26:39–40

So the quick half hour of prayer stretched into an hour and the hour stretched into the whole afternoon. I was a solitary woman, for the most part, keeping lonely vigil beside the body of Christ. The reality of this event—the Crucifixion—and the impact on my understanding took me into a kind of nearness and closeness that are not easily described. I began to think of all the people I knew whose souls were close to Golgotha. Friends—one whose wife was dying from cancer, another whose mother was terminally ill.

Who was it I held in my arms? My husband, certainly, with too much work and too little funding. I also held in my arms the new generation, my infant grandchildren, for whom I felt more terror than I ever had for my own children, knowing now how hazardous life really is.

More than these, I entered into a profound reality that I was one of the women, though centuries stood between me and that actual time, at the foot of the Cross who on that first Good Friday, then down through the ages, have kept lonely and prayerful vigils. Believe me, Easter celebrations are always more meaningful when I have held the Broken Body of Christ on the Friday before.

This year, a week before Good Friday, I notice that nearby Wheaton College is offering a Bach Vigil. Cellist Leonardo Altino will perform the six cello suites of J.S. Bach. Suites 1 & 2 will be held at St. Michael Catholic Church; Suites 3 & 4 will be held at St. John Lutheran Church; and Suites 5 & 6 will be held at the College Church.  These musical meditations a week before Good Friday should put me in the way of the Cross.  Let me just say that ever since that afternoon on Good Friday 1993, I have attempted to spend Good Friday on my knees. Personal suffering since 1993 has made me tender. My own pain has made it easier to enter into the pain of Christ.

“There are times when nothing holds the heart but a long, long look at Calvary. How very small anything that we are allowed to endure seems beside that Cross.” —Amy Carmichael, missionary to India

Let me repeat: Easter celebrations are always more meaningful when I have held the Broken Body of Christ on Good Friday.

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March 25, 2018

Gospel for Asia (GFA), Wills Point, Texas

Most of Israel’s existence has been spent surrounded by antagonistic countries both big and small. Whether in modern or biblical times, super powers like Egypt, Babylon, Assyria or Arab nations have threatened to wipe it out of existence. Or smaller harassment’s like Philistine giants, terrorist bombings and daily barrages of rockets threaten the lives of its people. Despite this, the people of Israel have almost always had a hope of a deliverer.

Like every nation, this hope is kindled whenever a new political party comes into power. The possibility for positive change and freedom from oppression entices the hopes and dreams of its people. Hope can easily interpret other changes as signs that deliverance may come. Take, for instance, the possibility of the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem. Could that be a sign that more positive things are still to come? Or what about the hope of years ago: Is this prophet going to deliver us from the Romans?

When something happens in any national capitol, people across the nation take notice. When events cause a stir in Jerusalem, the whole country looks expectantly. A number of years ago, about this time of year, a charismatic Jewish leader came to the city that carried with him the hopes of a greater Israel. Many Israelis crowded the streets to get a glimpse of him. This man brought new ideas to Israel, was ethically sound and confronted the old guard, which seemed powerless to help Israel.  This man seemed to have all the promise of a revolutionary that would bring real change.

When the crowds flocked to see him, he was not in a motorcade or a limo. No. He was riding on a young donkey. He wasn’t a political activist wielding military power. He was a rabbi, who healed the sick and cast out demons. People waved palm branches—a symbol of Israeli nationalism—in excitement to welcome the Galilean, Jesus of Nazareth.

But how is it that within the span of a week, those very same people would crucify their hero? The last week of Jesus’s life is filled with drama: driving people from the Temple with a homemade whip, filling people’s hearts with powerful teaching, thwarting arrest, confounding his opposition with wisdom. All this back and forth … until one of His closest, most trusted disciples betrayed Him to death.

The people were desperately longing for a Messiah. He came. They killed Him. How could it happen? The people of Israel wanted their Messiah to do something He wasn’t intended to do and wanted Him to be something He was not supposed to be. Their agenda was not His agenda; they wanted Him to establish their earthly kingdom, but He came to establish a spiritual one—and they crucified Him because of it. As believers, we know ourselves to be God’s special people, His chosen ones, but so did Israel, and we can be just as susceptible to agendas that are contrary to God.

Palm Sunday - Preparing Our Hearts for Jesus - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Competing Agendas

In our modern world, we thoroughly understand the idea of competing agendas. There is never enough time, energy, money, etc., to meet all the demands on our lives. Multi-tasking was once heralded as an ability that people had to master in order to succeed. “Work-life balance,” the ability to properly prioritize the demands between home and work, has surged in success literature as people climbing the corporate ladder burnout more often than not.

But even if we learn the secret of living a peaceful life within a world of constant bombardment, there is often a subtler competition of agendas that we don’t see happening. This competing agenda is the very thing that could move a nation to kill its long anticipated Savior. We long for our God to bless our lives so we can juggle everything that competes with Him for our time, energy and focus.

As we get sucked into prioritizing all these secular demands in our lives, we don’t see that keeping God in our lives has become only one of many priorities rather than the only priority. The Messiah as King of the Jews had become a means to a secular end for the people of Israel, not the end in itself. So in this last week of Jesus’ earthly life, they rejected Him. How do we keep from doing the same?

Breaking Free and the Bigger Picture

Have you ever noticed that the Gospels—and therefore, God—spend a disproportionate amount of time on the last week of Jesus’ life on earth? Despite this being just one week among an approximate 1,700 weeks of Jesus’ life, it takes up more than 25 percent of the Gospels. Should taking time to set this week apart each year and remembering Jesus be a priority for us?

Giving special attention to Holy Week has been the normal practice of the Church worldwide for centuries; only in recent decades has this practice faded. Like many churches from the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, GFA and Believers Eastern Church follow the liturgical church calendar. Doing so helps us remember that we are primarily spiritual people following a Christ-centered agenda for our lives rather than a secular one. The subtlety of these pressures aren’t always obvious.

Having personally lived in multiple countries and cultures, I’ve found that each one is undergirded by a national rhythm created by its calendar and holidays. Take, for instance, the importance of holidays that shape our national identity. These not only remember those who gave their lives for our freedom, but the holidays themselves reinforce the cultural characteristics of our individual countries.

American culture is very celebratory over its soldiers and freedoms. We have holidays like Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and the Fourth of July. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, is very solemn in its remembrances. For instance, it takes a minute of silence to remember those who died in the Great War at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November every Armistice Day. And then there is India, which is very proud of its ancient heritage, especially seen on its Republic Day, a day when the entire country takes part in a flag-hoisting ceremony after the prime minister hoists the Indian flag at 9 a.m.

Every year, our secular holidays and their cultural icons shape each culture and the attitudes of the people within them without their citizens even realizing it. They are an outside force that silently reinforces who we are, what we are like, and what we do as a culture, and we are completely unaware of their subtleties.

Our Secular Holidays - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

In the same way, the church calendar provides a framework for us as Christians to remember that we first and foremost are a spiritual people who are part of a heavenly culture rather than a secular one. If the church calendar becomes our dominant rhythm-maker for each year—rather than the secular calendar—we have an outside force working for us to remember that Christ is our only priority.

As I write this, we are in the end stages of the Church’s Lenten season, a season of fasting and turning away from secular agendas. I am more aware than I want to be that I have not eaten any cookies, cakes or ice cream; drank any pop; watched any movies, etc., since before Ash Wednesday (oh, so long ago!).

At the start of Lent, we’re filled with an anticipation of God using this special time in our lives to draw us nearer to Himself. After a week or two, the initial romance with fasting wears off as we find that part of us really wants that cookie! And the struggle for who reigns in us wages on. By this time, many of us are dominated by the desire for Lent to be over. No more anticipation, no more romance, no more battle…bring on the cookies!

How unspiritual of us? Maybe. But maybe that’s exactly the rhythm that this season is supposed to work in us.  As fasting causes the season of Lent to drag on, the arrival of Palm Sunday is good news for multiple reasons. The quickly approaching end to my fasting increases my focus on and my excitement for Easter coming. Jesus is coming, and my time of fasting is coming to an end with Him!

I remember being in Asia for the entirety of one Lent. The tradition of Believers Eastern Church, like many Eastern churches, is to fast from meat during Lent. This was particularly difficult on one young seminary student. So, on the last night of Lent, he bought some fried chicken and stayed awake until midnight. After finishing his fasting prayer and giving thanks to the Lord, he devoured the whole box of chicken! He was so thankful for Easter coming!

Jesus asked if friends of the Bridegroom can fast when the Bridegroom is with them (see Mark 2:19)? When the resurrected Jesus arrives on Easter, we are commanded to end our fasting. We are not allowed to fast on Easter, not even to kneel in church! It’s time to embrace and celebrate Christ’s coming, death, resurrection and soon return!

Every year, this short season mirrors the bigger picture of our lives. We suffer and toil here in a world full of sin, temptation and suffering, longing for the day when Christ returns and brings freedom from the bondage of sin and this world. Also, we remove the aspect of choice that is involved with competing agendas. In following Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, our lives are governed by something bigger than me, something that transcends the busyness of modern life.

Many Asian cultures are full of religious festivals that help center the lives of the people on God. When we remove the Christian calendar from the lives of new believers, there is a sense of loss. They have joy in Jesus, but when does that joy become tangible, when can they celebrate? Incorporating these powerful rhythms into the life of the Church not only makes the life of Jesus more tangible and relevant, but it helps shape their thinking about this world and the world to come. It helps remind them that they are governed by something that transcends their past life and secular world.

Preparing Our Hearts - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Preparing Our Hearts

As we reach Palm Sunday this year, we start a time of transition. As mentioned earlier, the Gospels give a disproportionate amount of attention to this last week of Jesus’ life. Jesus enters into Jerusalem; His death and Resurrection are almost here. Whether or not you observed Lent, can Sunday mark the beginning of the most important week of your year? Can we at least ask ourselves if we are so secularized by our competing agendas that we can’t make one week out of 52 all about Jesus?

It’s easy enough to find a simple reading plan for holy week online or in the back of many Bibles. We can read and meditate on what Jesus did each day of the week. Do you realize that the first act of Jesus when He was heralded as the Messiah was to re-establish the Temple of God as place of prayer for all nations (see Mark 11:17)? Maybe that’s a good place to start for us.

We can spend a bit more time each day meditating on Jesus, His life and His overcoming as recorded in Scripture. As a family or church, we can spend time worshiping together by following Christ’s life this week. On Maundy Thursday, we can take time to meditate on the Last Supper, Jesus’ agony in the Garden and His betrayal. I’m always struck by the loneliness of Jesus on this night, how none of His disciples could put Him first and how His Father was His only comfort as He wrestled against sin and temptation.

On Good Friday, can we take a special time of solemnness as we remember how Jesus hung on the cross, slowly dying after being brutally tortured? Growing up Roman Catholic, even as a child, I was required to fast during the hours that Jesus was on the cross. As an adult, setting aside those six hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is so difficult. They drag on for so long, and when you realize that this whole amount of time Jesus spent crucified, it makes what He did all the more amazing.

All of this is to help us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the greatest joy possible when Easter Sunday finally arrives. We’ve prepared our hearts and minds and calendars for the coming of our King. We’ve broken free from the competing agendas to say “God only is my agenda and priority.”

Making It Real

Some of us from Gospel for Asia recently attended the two-year anniversary celebration of a church plant in Terrell, Texas. What struck me the most was how “incarnational” it was. The celebration was not behind closed doors; it was out in the street and parking lot. It was a community event filled with “tax collectors and sinners.” When Jesus came the first time, it wasn’t to spend it with those who didn’t need a physician, but with those who needed Him and would receive Him. The Gospel was preached at this church anniversary celebration, not by the most eloquent of speakers, but by someone who knew what they had been saved from and who exuded Christ’s love.

As we prepare for Christ to come, do we have a self-centered agenda or a Christ-centered agenda? We have the term “C and E” Christians, referring to people who only come to church on Christmas and Easter. I haven’t seen the statistics, but my guess is that the percentage of people who opt to come on these two days of the year are decreasing. Can we be like Jesus and go out and invite non-churched people to come with us?

On the mission field, the focus of Easter is celebrating Christ, but it’s done as a community event. Believers and missionaries from thousands of local parishes will be encouraging their surrounding communities to celebrate with them the life, death and resurrection of Christ. They have been praying for their neighbors and will be lovingly inviting them to celebrate Jesus with them next Easter Sunday. Can we follow their example?

A friend of mine and I are hoping to hand out Easter gospel tracts next week. Being an introvert, I cringe every time I step out of my car with tracts in hand. But I know Jesus loves the people around me, and His agenda for their salvation is more important than my agenda to do something that benefits me or provides me the comfort of not having to talk to people I don’t know.

Whatever my personal priorities for my life are, there is one priority that rises above them all, and rightfully so. This week is the perfect time for us to crucify the busyness agendas that would seek to compete with Jesus in our lives, and to let how we spend our time, how we focus our minds and who we invite to worship Jesus with us say to God, “You are our only priority! You are our Messiah, our King. You and You alone. Deliver us from this world’s continuous bombardment of agendas that would seek to turn our eyes from You.”

Will you join us at Gospel for Asia (GFA) as we set apart this week for God? Start with Palm Sunday. Invite people to attend Easter Sunday service with you. And pray for our brothers and sisters on the mission field who are seeking to do the same. Happy Palm Sunday!

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March 23, 2018

Momentum is not easy to capture. I am using that word to describe a force that starts to pick up steam and for a while appears to be almost unstoppable.

In the religious world I would describe times of authentic revival as extended periods of incredible spiritual momentum.

I am aware that some people have negative feelings about the term revival. Consequently, I am attempting to use a different word to describe those occasions when the Kingdom of God is marked by truly outstanding advances, such as what is recorded in the book of Acts.

Seasoned Christian leadersmen and women who have been around for a whiletalk often among themselves, and also when they are alone, they speak with the Lord about how to recapture that dynamic the New Testament church once possessed. They also study past revival-periods to see what can be learned from our more successful predecessors. How did they capture the spiritual momentum they knew? And what are we missing that hinders us from another such season of dramatic advances?

Spiritual Momentum Attracts Fierce Spiritual Resistance - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Here is a simple way to list the qualities they are interceding on behalf of without having to do an extensive study of revival history. Spiritual awakenings are ALWAYS marked by an overwhelming sense of the presence of the Lord. This is true whether describing one’s personal relationship to Christ; the awakening of a local church; revival in a large geographic area, such as a city or county; or even a vast nationwide moving of the Holy Spirit. Once again, the number-one characteristic of all such times is this palpable and powerful sense of the presence of the Lord.

 

“During a spiritual awakening, there is, first, an overwhelming awareness of the

Presence of God among his people.” —Ted S. Rendell, Fire in the Church

 

To be more specific, think of experiencing God’s presence this way. What would happen in a given congregation if Jesus Himself made His physical presence known for several months? My belief is that immediately upon recognizing Him in the Sunday service, people would get very quiet. Soon, many would drop to their knees, which is the body language of worship. Probably others would start to sing songs of praise to Him. Well, more often than not, worship is one of the earliest signs of possible revival.

 

“Suddenly, someone would begin to pray and praise God. As long as an hour would pass before the speaker could speak.” —C.L. Culpepper, The Shantung Revival

 

Even if Jesus was to do nothing more than be bodily present, very soon the importance of Christian love would permeate the Body. He wouldn’t even have to say anything. People would just know intuitively that this was expected behavior.

 

“The most powerful emotion of the entire meeting was love. … It was not a ‘sticky’ type of love, it was the pure love of God as described in First Corinthians 13.” —Charles K. Tarr, A New Wind Blowing

 

You are aware that in theory, godliness and sin don’t go together. So, special times when the presence of the Lord is experienced in a church are regularly marked by the confession of wrongdoing.

 

“The Spirit of God continued to work in their hearts until they found relief before God in confession often of things hidden for years.” —Alison Griffiths, Fire in the Islands!: The Act of the Holy Spirit in the Solomons

 

We’re considering what would probably happen Sunday after Sunday if Jesus were to make His presence known in a given church. Now to worship, love and holiness let’s add involvement in God’s service. People would be more than happy to help in His cause in any way possible.

 

“Laymen all over the revival area woke up to the biblical truth that they were Gods ambassadors. … Whole congregations were moved from dead center to catch  a glimpse of their contribution to the Body of Christ.” —Erwin W. Lutzer, Flames of Freedom

 

Even if Jesus isn’t the one doing the preaching, in times when His presence is strongly felt, it brings alive the opening of the Word. Just sensing that the Lord is there listening to every word not only changes the person preaching, but also those listening.

 

“There is a famine … of conscience-stirring preaching, a famine of heart-breaking preaching, a famine of soul-fearing preaching, a famine of that preaching like our fathers knew which kept men awake all night lest they fall into hell.” —Leonard Ravenhill, America Is Too Young to Die

 

When the Spirit of Jesus is powerfully felt in the church, people covet the opportunity of speaking to Him. That’s what prayer is all about … talking to the Lord. And has there ever been a revival not marked by all aspects of prayer—confession, intercession, praise, request, thanksgiving? Not really!

 

“Most churches are said to fail because they do not generate their own power. … Prayer is the generator. The great London preacher Charles Spurgeon once took some people down to his Metropolitan Tabernacle basement to show them his ‘Power Plant.’ There, on their knees, were about three hundred people praying for the service!” —Armin R. Gesswein, With One Accord in One Place

 

I am all too quickly listing what marks churches when they experience a special sense of the Lord’s presence. In review, these times of refreshing are characterized by worship, love, holiness, service, an anointing of the preached word, prayer, and I certainly need to add, evangelism. Numerous converts are always a sign of such times.

 

“A church which does not go out into the world to press the claims of the Kingdom would not know revival if it came.” —Ronald E. Coleman, Dry Bones Can Live Again: Revival in the Local Church

 

Let’s look at one more positive observation regarding revival, and then something negative that also needs to be mentioned. Revival results in a great sense of well-being. Much like the spiritual euphoria people often experience when they first become believers, so a similar sensation is felt all through a church.

 

“I have witnessed many revivals of God’s people—both individuals and  companies. The Holy Spirit’s working always brought a fullness of joy. Cups ran over. Worries disappeared. When Love and Joy and Peace came in at the door, Misery went up the chimney, search parties failing to locate it afterwards.” —J. Edwin Orr, Times of Refreshing: 10,000 Miles of Miracles Through Canada

 

All this should sound good!

Even though it has been a long time since America has known a movement of such magnitude, God’s Church in other parts of our world has truly been experiencing momentum factor. In my lifetime, this has certainly been true regarding the believers in China. Many nations in the continent of Africa have shown amazing Christian renewal. Significant regions in South America can also be cited where this new wine is being tasted. A vibrant indigenous church is emerging in the Indian subcontinent. For this, I certainly praise the Lord. Unfortunately, forward movements like these, which I am referencing, are always met by stiff opposition on the part of our spiritual enemy.

The truth be known, seasoned Christian leaders expect dramatic advances in the battle of the kingdoms to be met with fierce and foul counterattacks. Allow me to repeat that: Seasoned Christian leaders expect dramatic advances in the battle of the kingdoms to be met with fierce and foul counterattacks. Veteran spiritual heads aren’t surprised by Satan’s tactics. They agree with the Apostle Paul, who wrote, “We are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).

From the book of Acts alone, long-time Bible students know that the evil cunning of the devil included:

  • lies, bribes, threats, hiring of false witnesses …
  • spying, intimidations (like issuing dire warnings) …
  • muggings, staging riots, mass arrests and jailings …
  • whippings, beatings, stoning and, yes, murders!

That’s why spiritual leaders who have been around the block a time or two understand that remarkable church growth can be problematic. It has its pluses, but there are also minuses. Included on the “bad” side of the ledger is that the enemy will now pay more attention to what’s happening and realign his forces accordingly. So he lays sexual entrapments for the unwary. He attempts to separate long-time friends and coworkers in the cause. He preys on the jealousy of those who feel they aren’t being recognized as much as they believe they deserve.

Satan spreads gossip, hoping it will be picked up by any who are tempted to feed on such morsels. He tries to bully with threats of physical harm any who are working to plant a new Christ Kingdom flag over long-held enemy territory. In a way, it’s the Acts story enacted again and again in generation after generation.

Experienced church men and women wrestle with matters like these. For example, they know that social media can be used to quickly spread rumors and falsehoods; bloggers can use their platforms to spinincredible hearsay into credible sounding concerns; a trumped-up lawsuit can be easily filed against a trusted Christian to disparage their reputation; unscrupulous lawyers can entice newspapers to pick up on such an accusation and put it on Page One, even before a trial date has been scheduled; TV coverage can be influenced by simply giving exposure to innuendo, to rigged-up charges; a man or womans reputation can be tarnished before he or she has even had a chance to defend himself or herself in court. If eventually his or her total innocence is proven, that victory will get nowhere near the coverage the accusation did. More likely, it will never be reported on.

Spiritual Awakenings - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Those who have been in the arena for a while are aware that spiritual warfare all too often has victims, just like those in military encounters become wounded warriors. Even more amazing, as seen all through the book of Acts, is that those you have to be careful to keep a watchful eye on are more than often a part of organized religion. I wish someone had made this clear to me so many years ago when I was a young pastor up to my ears in inner-city ministry. It would have better prepared me for the enemy ambush I walked into.

Seasoned Christian leaders know that a man or woman who has experienced a glorious time of spiritual revival will eventually be attacked. The predator will first go after the easy targets—the young believers or those wounded in one way or another. The devil is biding his time, waiting until circumstances are to his liking.

Maybe I’m a slow learner, but later in life, during my most productive middle-years when I was the director of a nation-wide media and publishing ministry and at a time when we were starting to see some real Kingdom momentum involving thousands of churches working together in concert, it happened again. To be honest, the false accusations took me totally by surprise. I believed that my wife and I were Kingdom favorites! Why was God allowing this to happen to us? Couldn’t He just make it all go away?

You see, I naïvely thought spiritual warfare was a sermon series one preached, not a series of seemingly unending attacks that would destroy your ministry and from which you would barely escape unscathed. How naïve I was! What blinders I wore when I preached through the book of Acts. I almost missed the cost to those early advancing Kingdom commandos. I was blind to their shed blood … and I overlooked the bravery displayed by the early disciples.

The Scriptures read that when the opposition “saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished…” (See Acts 4:13.) These were not the kind of religious leaders the scribes and the Pharisees were used to dealing with. “…and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Jesus … who knew there was a cost involved in things in the world were going to change. And He was prepared to pay that cost with His life.

In my time of serving Christ and His kingdom, have I been bold and fearless? What’s the opposite of being bold? Fearful? Faint-hearted? I’m afraid that’s more of who I was when I encountered enemy opposition. But not one elder that I recall sounded a warning that moving aggressively forward on a spiritual front could stir up an enemy hornets’ nest.

Sure, I preached about revival and I earnestly prayed for it. I made it a lifetime study. But when our ministry started to experience it, the enemy counterattacked, and I screamed bloody murder. Looking back, I don’t think I was bold. I would describe my response as more one of great surprise and shock.

I write these words with deep feelings because the battle for Christ and His kingdom here in America and around the world is not going to be won by spiritual dandies or people playing at Christianity. It’s going to take a new breed of church leaders if our nation, America, is going to be saved. It’s going to require pastors and prophets and evangelists who are aware, up-front, that such service quite often involves real (real, not symbolic) victims.

I hold a conviction in regard to the ongoing spiritual battle in our land between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, God and Satan. Be warned. Be informed. Make yourselves ready. Stand fast. My dear friends, this is a real battle, a battle that begins among the unseen, but then involves real men and women on planet earth.

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January 18, 2018

Gospel for Asia (GFA), Wills Point, Texas

It can be easy to over complicate what it means to serve God.

“It means moving to another country.”

“It means I have to minister full time.”

“It means I have to go to Bible college first.”

God certainly uses all those things and asks many people to do them. But those things in themselves aren’t where powerful ministry comes from—it is in obedience to God’s leading that the power rests. We expect serving God to be something grand or some huge act, but often powerful fruit for God’s kingdom is the result of a simple word spoken, a simple action carried out.

 “‘It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” —Zechariah 4:6

Ramesh’s story is evidence of the simple power of an obedient servant to his Lord.

GFA Pastor, grocery shop - KP Yohanan - Gospel for Asia
Gospel for Asia-supported pastors have to grocery shop, too, yet their attentive hearts to God’s leading enables them to use even the ordinary tasks of life to impact lives for eternity.

‘Chance’ Meeting in the Market

Ramesh’s wife, Terti, wandered around the market. Colorful piles of fruits, vegetables, clothing and maybe even some jewelry covered the area.

A Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported pastor also strolled through the market, and soon their paths crossed. They struck up a conversation, and Terti heard about the One who Pastor Kuplan served. The things she heard caused her ears to pique, and she soaked up everything Pastor Kuplan explained.

When Terti went home that day, what she tucked among her other treasures from the market was a piece of Gospel literature, while Pastor Kuplan went home with an invitation to visit the family and tell her husband the wonderful things he had told her about the God who died to save His children.

A Friend Like No Other

The next day, Terti and Ramesh welcomed Pastor Kuplan into their home. It was his first time he was able to freely and openly share about Christ in their village, and they paid close attention to him. Their desire to know this merciful Savior grew, and soon a prayer meeting started in their home. Pastor Kuplan helped them learn songs and Scripture verses, which God used to transform their hearts more and more.

Ramesh and Terti fell so in love with Christ they invited Him to make a home in their hearts. Their neighbors grew enraged at their decision and made life difficult—even destroying Ramesh’s crops—but nothing they could do would shake the resolve of the couple.

Although Ramesh and Terti have been shunned by their community, they experience the abiding presence of God in their lives, and they are learning the truth of the old song, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one!”

discovered a love that prompted them to deny all to follow Christ - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia
After talking with a Gospel for Asia-supported pastor, Ramesh and Terti (pictured) discovered a love that prompted them to deny all to follow Christ.

Obedience to the Holy Spirit prompting us to do or say something to someone is critical in ministry.

It was a simple thing the pastor did, providing a fellow shopper with one of the pamphlets he kept in his pocket and answering her questions about Christ. But he could have hesitated, he could have busied himself with looking for a good onion or finding a better deal on rice. Instead, he chose to follow God’s prompting and trust that He would work good through the conversation. One simple act led to another, and now, there stands a family strong in their love for Jesus as evidence of the power of God!

In his blog, Dr. KP Yohannan writes more about being empowered by God to “do things that are otherwise impossible.” The key: being a partaker of God’s divine nature. Having the loving heart of Christ. When we partake of Christ’s nature, our hearts overflow with love toward Him and toward all those He loves. The result?

Once the divine nature overtook their lives, the Lord did amazing things through His disciples. It was not the disciples who did these things. It was God using them as His instruments to accomplish His purposes in His way.”

Let us be quick to follow the Lord’s prompting.

What simple thing is God asking you to do today? Whether it is to pray for someone, give someone a hug or gift, speak a word of truth to a total stranger, go into full-time ministry or make some other major life decision, obedience to the Lord will be worth it. Nothing is too large or too small to be used by God in a powerful way, when His power is the one behind it!

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January 13, 2018

Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?

That’s a good question. It may not be in Scripture, as many people believe, but it does have an element of truth. John Wesley is generally cited as the originator of the phrase in his sermon, “Cleanliness Is, Indeed, Next to Godliness.” It is certain that he was not the creator of the concept. Similar statements have been recorded in ancient literature.

While the Bible may not specifically say that cleanliness is next to godliness, it does, however, associate the two. Those stricken with leprosy in Biblical times were required by ritual law to announce that they were unclean should they appear in public.

Jesus described the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, saying that they were more concerned about outwardly cleanliness than internal cleanliness where they were “full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25, 26).

Job described himself as “pure, without transgression” (Job 33:9).

The Psalmist similarly used cleanliness to describe his need for a return to righteousness: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Both Paul and John used cleanliness to describe holiness and righteousness. Paul urged the Corinthian church to cleanse themselves “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). John reminds believers that when we confess our sins, the Lord “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

There seems to be a direct connection between cleanliness and godliness, at least in comparative terms.

If we must be cleansed from unrighteousness, then unrighteousness must be dirty.

If a leper who has been healed is declared clean, he is free of his disease.

Sanitation or Salvation - KP Yohannan - Gospel for Asia

Can Cleanliness Lead to Godliness?

That’s another good question – one which the western world does not always handle well.

We like to eat from clean plates and sleep on clean sheets. We avoid hanging out with people who haven’t bathed or washed their clothes.

The western world has come to take cleanliness for granted, and we withdraw from that which is dirty.

But what if we were to live as millions around the world do—in abject poverty, especially in Asian and African countries?

What if our lives consisted of living in unclean conditions from which there was no relief?

And what if a miracle should happen and someone appeared who could change our circumstances?

What would we do? How would we respond to being able to drink clean water and use private, sanitary toilet facilities—things which we didn’t have the privilege of before?

We would be eternally grateful.

That is why the global ministry of Gospel for Asia is so effective.

The many projects GFA undertakes as ministry efforts are to provide clean water, sanitation, and similar relief. One reason is because of the great need. Another reason is because we serve the Great Provider.

Can Cleanliness Lead to Godliness - KP Yohannan - Gospel for AsiaOur mission in life is to be devout followers of Christ and to live lives fully pleasing to Him. God has given us a special love for the people of Asia, and it is our desire to minister to them and help them through ministries like education, providing health information or practical gifts, or through the spiritual transformation of peaceful hearts, restored relationships and mended lives. We do all this in community and in partnership with the global Body of Christ.

The impoverished to whom we minister in Asia are so grateful for the kindness and cleanliness that Gospel for Asia (GFA) offers for their physical needs, they often welcome our ministry to their spiritual needs. They respond to kindness and love expressed by the offer of cleanliness.

Cleanliness may or may not be next to godliness, but at Gospel for Asia (GFA) we know that cleanliness can lead those who think they have no hope to the sure and certain hope we have in Jesus Christ.

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