“Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises.”
– Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
“I am tired of fighting,” he said. “Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
Millions of South Asian women are illiterate. More than half the women in Bangladesh cannot read at all. In India alone, there are an estimated 242 million women who are unable to read—that’s about half the adult women in the country.
Teaching women to read and write opens doors of opportunity and gives them the joy of being able to study God’s Word for themselves. These women are eager to learn; they just need a teacher and a few simple materials.
By Learning to Read – They Stand Firm
But now, through Gospel for Asia’s Women’s Literacy Program, the written world is opening up for the first time. Women learn by reading the Bible, which is the foundational text for the classes, so they gain a knowledge of Scripture even before they’ve completed the course.
Pastors’ wives and women missionaries serve as teachers, so students have the opportunity to grow spiritually under their mentors. The ability to read and understand for themselves also gives these women the confidence to refuse unfair contracts, whether they’re from loan officers or abusive employers.
Many women in GFA-supported churches struggle because they cannot read God’s Word. Help them know the Lord more by giving to Gospel for Asia’s Women’s Literacy Program.
More than one in three women in Asia are illiterate—and the statistic holds true for women in Gospel for Asia-supported churches. Their inability to read leaves them vulnerable to those wanting to take advantage of their ignorance, and without reading the Bible, it’s a challenge to deepen their knowledge of their Savior.
YOU Can Make a Difference!
Illiterate women in Asia face great difficulties. They fail to keep their children safe because they can’t read warning labels. Debt piles up because they can’t understand the bad contracts they sign. They’re cheated in the marketplace because they can’t do basic math. Even if they want to read, there is no way to learn.
With your help, women in Asia can learn to read and will be equipped to tackle life’s hurdles. Click on the link below to find out how you can change someone’s life forever.
There’s more than one way to be a Christian.
Wait a minute, that sounds unscriptural, and if you believe everything I’ve been taught as an evangelical, you’d think so. But that’s simply not true.
I confess. I spent more than 35 years toiling away in Pentecostal circles, being a good boy, submitting to authority, leading ministries, teaching, sharing, being a real-live missionary overseas, giving and being a good example to all. In the process, my mind turned to mush, in a way. I often stopped thinking for myself, and mostly submitted my will, my dreams, my vision and my life to that of the pastor. The problem with losing myself like that, though, is that the life of the “club” often was more important than my children, my wife, my career and education, and just about everything else. I faithfully sacrificed for the local church.
And it still wasn’t enough.
Church leaders wanted me to attend more services, give more money, sit right up in front – “under the spout where the glory comes out,” anoint people in the prayer lines and pray and shout and hope people fell down – all at the command of the pastor – and it still wasn’t enough.
And yet I came to believe – I don’t really know how, other than saying it was Groupthink – that the way we did church was the best way, the purest way, the only way. No one else really did it right.
It was never preached or spoken like that, but a certain air infiltrated those churches as sure as I’m sitting here writing this, and permeated every soul there. An air of superiority. A sense of rightness. A spirit of certainty that their way was the best way to serve God.
One pastor said publicly (twice that I heard): “I preach a unique word. One that no one else preaches. And it needs to be on the radio, because people need to hear it.” That is a stunning revelation of one man’s ego, isn’t it?
Another preached vehemently against homosexuality, abortion and oral sex – from the pulpit and on his local TV show. Then he proceeded to carry on an adulterous affair for more than five years. He repented and received a slap on the wrist and some counseling, but he’s back in the pulpit today being praised as a man of God doing a vital work, leading sinners to Christ. And maybe he is. But when are we going to stop elevating men and feeding their egos? It only destroys them.
Another became complicit in a $300,000 scam, because he covered it up. Why? To protect a friend. Unfortunately, the people who were ripped off were his own congregants. And he told them from the pulpit to forgive the perpetrator and not to press charges – that restoration would be made. So they all did. And it never was. Oh yeah, the perp’s been involved in several schemes since then, is selling used cars to this day, and leading worship in a local church even though he never made restitution to those he fleeced. Why was he never held accountable? His pastor should have done that over 20 years ago, but he didn’t, and the beat goes on.
There’s got to be a better way!
I realize that these accounts are only my experiences, and limited to a very few churches. But from what I understand, the local church was never intended to be a place to elevate men, or to create a family business, or to heap blessings upon ourselves. The Early Church is the model we should follow – it was a place where believers learned about God’s love and took it to the world. They didn’t build monuments of stone or flesh, and didn’t count themselves as being better than others.
All the little people who’ve built these modern-day churches with their prayers and their sweat and their tears – and lots of their money – suffer every day from sickness, job loss, financial hardship and death. Are these same churches there to help them through the crises and tragedies in their lives? My experience has been that the church often turns the other way when needs arise, because “We don’t want to set a precedent. If we give to him, we’ll have to give to everybody.” I heard that excuse so many times in pastors’ meetings that I wanted to scream. And I should have.
Maybe I am now.
I AM BY BIRTH A TROLL – mostly a feared, misunderstood being, shunned and ignored by the greater part of society. In fact, if you would only listen to me, and just make an honest effort to get to know me, I think you would like me – maybe even love me.
My name is IMHO, and I know I’m considered by some to be ugly, repulsive and downright scary. But I’m really no different from you. Not if you open your ears and your heart and listen to me. You just have to get past the initial shock – the repulsive stuff – and see the real me.
My nature is to be honest, sometimes brutally so. Is that why you don’t like me? I tell the truth, at least as I see it. And I have no reason to lie, nothing to gain and nothing to lose. I think it’s because I’ve experienced so much misunderstanding, that I have a genuine desire to see the truth and tell it. I hate being misunderstood, and when I am, I’m compelled to say something.
The problem is, when I speak you don’t listen. Can’t you hear me? Or is it that you don’t want to hear me?
You walk past me as if I don’t exist, ignoring me, averting your gaze, staring straight ahead as if in a trance. All of you. Almost as if you’re marching in the military, locked in together, and oblivious to all that’s going on around you.
Don’t get me wrong, focus can be a good thing. But if your focus morphs into an unthinking, slave-like, submissive, turn-off-your-brain kind of capitulation to what everybody else is saying and believing, then you’ll never see me. You’ll never hear me. You’ll never know me.
Every time you approach me, you’ll get nervous and start to think, “Why did I come this way?” instead of “Oh, there’s IMHO. What does he have to say today?”
It’s because I’m ugly, right? Do I scare you? Do you think I’m going to hurt you? Are you afraid to talk with me?
Maybe that’s just your prejudice telling your head that stuff. “He’s ugly.” “He’s gonna hurt you!” “He has a knife behind that beard.” Or maybe it’s your friends telling you those things, because what I have to say goes counter to what you’re being told elsewhere. Is that it? Are you sticking with your friends against me?
And what about those of you who used to call me “friend”? What happened to you – to us? I think the pressure from your friends and your group got to you. They told you to ignore me. To stay away from me. To go down another street if you have to, just so you don’t run into me.
Isn’t that called “shunning”? That is so sad.
That’s probably why I’ve taken to living in a cave, away from you and from the stares and laughing. I’m safe in here, and I’ve actually grown to like it. But it’s lonely sometimes. And then there are the times I just have to blow about something that’s gotten under my skin. Especially when I see injustice, particularly practiced by people who preach passionately about “loving your neighbor,” or not looking down on others.
But then you look down on me.
Is it because I’m ugly? Or are you afraid of what I have to say? When my opinion differs from yours, why do you automatically reject me? It hurts. And it drives me into my cave.
But you know what? I’m still gonna speak, and I’m probably going to offend you, or your friends, or everybody for that matter!
All I ask is that you put away your preconceived ideas and your prejudices. Forget for a moment the dogma that controls you because it controls everybody you associate with, thereby creating a herd mentality – whether you’ll admit it or not – and you become part of the herd, rumbling across the landscape, ignoring everything in your path and causing more damage than you’ll ever know.
Next time I – or one of my brother or sister trolls – ventures out of a cave to say something, please suspend your hatred of what you consider ugly, and just listen! Try to understand the truth in what I’m saying, and see if it lines up with your core principles. If it does, then talk to me. Close your eyes if you must, but open your stuffed-up ears!
It’s just me. IMHO.