TO THE READER:
Thank you for being a faithful partner, and using your voice for the voiceless! Your partnership is truly making a difference in Asia. I pray that this story will bless and encourage you as you read how God transformed a broken family through the gift of fresh water. The ministry of Gospel for Asia is about changing lives — both for this life and for eternity, and Jesus Wells are simply one way to do that. As people receive the clean water they so desperately need, it opens the door to share about the source of Living Water, the One who is the reason for the well. As you read this story, consider getting involved by praying, giving or starting a MyGFA campaign.
DESPERATE FOR MORE THAN CLEAN WATER
Suprita had to trek through the rocky terrain to get water for her family. But there would be no sweet relief when she and her family drank it. The stagnant pond she drew from was full of mud, discarded bodies of dead animals and even human waste. Suprita had no alternative — she risked the possibility of stomach pain and sickness every day because this was the only water available for miles. And this was only the beginning of her problems.
DRUNKEN HUSBAND BEATS WIFE, CHILDREN
Suprita lived under the constant threat of being beaten by her alcoholic husband Tarosh. Night after night, he came home from his job as a rickshaw driver completely drunk, and harshly mistreated her and her children. None of them could bear the pain and fear much longer.
Suprita knew something had to be done to solve Tarosh’s drinking problem. She begged her gods and goddesses to help her in the hopeless situation she and her family were in, but it did not seem that prayers alone would bring peace to her family. Tarosh continued to drink and hurt Suprita emotionally and physically.
WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY DO NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS
Something more drastic would have to take place if Tarosh was ever going to leave behind his destructive behavior. Suprita decided she would take matters into her own hands by learning the secrets of witchcraft and the art of sorcery. She offered the bodies of a slain hen and goat as sacrifices. In her desperation, she went to sorcerers and began to call on the spirits of the dead, hoping they would come to her aid. In spite of her dedicated efforts, however, her husband did not change.
JESUS WELL BRINGS RELIEF
In the midst of her struggles with Tarosh, Suprita still had the daily needs of her family to meet. At least one of her burdens was lifted when a Gospel for Asia pastor named Makrand had a well installed in their village. It was a welcome sight and a relief to the villagers. No more would they have to worry about stomachaches, illnesses or death because of the contaminated water they had been consuming so regularly.
Something as simple as being able to bathe in fresh water dramatically changed the way the men and women of the village lived. “My children were going to school without taking baths, and my husband went to work without a bath as well,” Suprita recalled. “We were not able to maintain proper cleanliness due to water scarcity, but after this Jesus Well was installed in our village, my children could take baths every day and go to school clean.”
One day at the well, Suprita ran into Pastor Makrand. As she drew the water she needed, the two began talking about life in general, and Pastor Makrand eventually shared about God’s love.
As the conversation continued, Suprita opened up and found herself sharing even the most painful things about her life with the pastor. While she poured out her heart to Makrand, he listened intently and offered to visit Suprita at her home.
Not wasting any time, Pastor Makrand and his wife stopped by Suprita’s house the very next day. Suprita was glad to see her new friends and welcomed them into her home. The couple listened as Suprita thanked the pastor for having the well installed in her community, and continued to share about the turmoil in her life. Pastor Makrand told Suprita that Jesus is the only One who could bring the true joy and peace she was seeking. Hearing about Jesus from Makrand stirred Suprita’s heart and made her eager to learn more.
FAMILY FINDS HOPE
Pastor Makrand continued to regularly visit Suprita and talk about the Good News with her. It all began making sense to Suprita, and one day she fully trusted in the Lord for salvation. Suprita had a new heart for Christ, and a new determination to pray for Tarosh. Although his habits had not changed, Suprita did not stop growing in the Lord and praying for her husband.
Pastor Makrand and his wife prayed with Suprita and her children once a week, and Tarosh always left the house during that time. But the group of praying friends persevered, and slowly Tarosh began to change. His bad habits became less frequent, and he would sometimes attend the prayer meetings in his home and listen to God’s Word being read or talked about.
THANKFUL FOR A NEW LIFE
Eventually, Tarosh’s life changed from the inside out. He, too, trusted in Jesus and began living for Him.
The home that was once filled with scared children, a desperate and weary wife and a careless and violent husband is drastically different today. Tarosh cares very deeply for his family now, and they all worship God together with several other families from the community whose hearts have also been transformed by the Good News.
Suprita did not expect to find more than fresh water at the well the day she met Pastor Makrand. She never would have guessed that a conversation at a well would forever change her life and the lives of her children, her husband and other people in her village.
“I am lucky to get good water from the well,” Suprita says. “Above all, I am so happy that I and my family came to know the Lord through this means.”
Jesus Wells not only give entire communities the clean water that is so desperately needed, but they also provide opportunities for missionaries to build relationships and share the hope of Christ with the people in the village.
FOR MANY IN ASIA – AND AROUND THE WORLD – SAFE, CLEAN WATER IS HARD TO COME BY. Confined to stagnant ponds, filthy rivers and rusty wells, people struggle daily with water-borne illnesses. They don’t know much about hygiene, and they have no idea what’s causing their premature deaths. We can help them!
• 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and a lack of safe drinking water.
• Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water-related illnesses.
• In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
Wait, that bears repeating …
• In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II!
• Despite the size of the problem, we have made little progress against it. There were only 181 million fewer people living without safe drinking water in rural settings in 2004 (899 million) vs. 1990 (1.08 billion)*1.
• Fifty percent of people on earth lack adequate sanitation. Another way to look at it: Nearly half of the world’s population fails to receive the level of water services available 2,000 years ago to the citizens of ancient Rome!
• Water-related illnesses are the leading cause of human sickness and death on the planet.
STATISTICS, STATISTICS, STATISTICS and more statistics! If you haven’t allowed these facts to touch you and move you, then these statistics are useless numbers, pointless facts and a futile attempt to grab your heart to the point where you experience a visceral reaction, and respond.
How should we respond to this overwhelming need? What can we realistically do that will help make a difference in people’s lives?
For starters, you can go HERE to learn more about the issue and see just how easy it is to personally help solve the problem. This is a HUGE issue, however, and it needs many solutions. There is no one way to fix it, and it will take many people many years to turn the tide.
We in the west rarely think about the clean water that we enjoy so freely. It hardly ever hits us that we are very, very privileged to be able to turn on the tap and drink what comes out, or stand under a warm stream of fresh water in our shower for 20-30 minutes, or flush our toilets an extra time or two (just to make sure), or grab our garden hose whenever we want and wash the car(s), or water the lawn or flowers or bird bath.
This reminds me of a trip I took to Haiti in 1986 with a group of guys, where we worked up in a mountain village to help build an addition to a schoolhouse. There was no water available for showers or bathing, except for a scarce amount to wash our faces at night. We were doing hard labor in 90-100 degree temps, so you know we were sweaty and stinky. It got to the point where we finally just fit in with our Haitian friends, because we didn’t smell like soap or deodorant anymore. We smelled like, well … us! One of my friends (you know who you are, Chuck) was really moved by the lack of water, and what the local people suffered as a result. He vowed he would never again take clean, fresh, hot water for granted, and I’ll bet a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t thank God for his water.
There may be no way to truly understand the suffering of people with little clean water, without going to some of these places and experiencing it for ourselves. But how many of us can do that? Very few, I imagine. What we can do, though, is educate our minds and hope that some of that education sinks down into our hearts, where God can then use it. Then we can get involved with initiatives like Gospel for Asia’s Jesus Wells and http://blueplanetnetwork.org/. We can at least do that, can’t we?
This article is not meant as a guilt trip, but merely a reminder that we who have plenty DO have a responsibility to care for those who have very little. The least we can do is send money to an organization like Gospel for Asia, who then sends 100% of your gift to work in the field. I don’t believe you can get a better return on what God has blessed you with. Now it’s up to you.
“But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
I John 3:17
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
COMPASSION SHOULD ALWAYS DRIVE US TO DO SOMETHING, because God’s love can’t flow through us unless we ACT. How do you spread God’s compassion on a daily basis? First, we have to assume that the people in our lives are there because God has placed them there. And He has placed us with them. We don’t need to look far afield for a “ministry” or for opportunities to love others. Let’s face it – there are people in need in ALL of our lives, whether they’re family members, co-workers, students or friends. I believe that these are the ones to whom God has called us first.
Farther away – all over the world – there is tremendous need, but how do we meet that need? How can I possibly minister to someone who has been left homeless because a flood washed away her village? How can I put clothes on the back of a young man who’s all alone in a refugee camp? How can I feed starving children in a famine-ravaged country? How can I reach across the miles, through impenetrable barriers, over mountains and valleys and political walls?
How can I?
How CAN’T I?
God has provided many ways, and here’s just one. Remember that 100% of your gift to Gospel for Asia goes to the field, which means that you CAN cross all barriers – you just might have to do it through someone else. Please read about GFA’s slum ministry, then pray how God’s compassion can best flow out from you.
Gospel for Asia’s Slum Ministry
Rapidly growing slums, with millions of people living in extreme poverty and struggling for survival, are a huge problem for South Asia’s major cities. Up to 25 percent of the population of these urban areas live in slums. Thousands arrive daily from rural areas in search of jobs and a better life, only to become trapped in desperation and hopelessness.
Open sewage, polluted water, lack of health care, illiteracy, superstition and diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS are just some of the threats all around them. Every day is a new battle to somehow find a job — or keep the one they have — as laborer, porter, sweeper or house servant. If that’s not possible, they must resort to begging, scavenging or prostitution to be able to eat. If they get too sick or too old to work, there is no social agency to help them survive. No wonder many slum dwellers drown their fears and sorrows in alcohol.
But wherever the love of Christ is shared, people find new hope and a future in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel for Asia’s ministry to the slums began in 1999, with outreach to four major Indian cities. Today, our missionary teams serve in thousands of slum neighborhoods, bringing hope in a two-fold manner — through the message of Jesus’ redemption and through living out His sacrificial love. They conduct free medical clinics and teach basic hygiene and preventive health measures. They provide literacy classes for adults, conduct tutoring classes for children and hold weekly Sunday schools. They have planted hundreds of churches, and thousands have heard the Gospel.
GFA also has a Bible college in Mumbai (Bombay) designed to train future missionaries for slum ministry all across the Indian Subcontinent. In addition to the study of God’s Word, classroom training consists of practical instruction in the various aspects of slum ministry. The obstacles are many, but our gracious heavenly Father has great plans for the poor: “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom …?” (James 2:5).
Our slum ministry is different from other outreaches because we deal with masses of desperate people who have no means whatsoever to better their situation or escape their surroundings. It takes tremendous self-sacrifice and patience on the part of our native missionaries to work among them, win their trust and lead them to Jesus. It also entails meeting urgent and often unique needs.
It’s incredible to encounter believers from our slum fellowships.
It’s incredible to encounter believers from our slum fellowships. You can easily see by the sparkle in their eyes and the joy on their faces that Jesus has brought light and hope into their lives. And their testimonies tell of the love and power of God that set them free from bondage and sin, and even healed many from sickness. Most of all, through the Lord Jesus Christ, they are now part of the family of God and have become our brothers and sisters.
We want to continue taking Christ’s message of hope to millions who are outcasts of society and invite them to become sons and daughters of the living God.
Please prayerfully consider how God might use you to reach the millions of slum dwellers of Asia. Your prayers and gifts can transform thousands of lives, both now and for all eternity.
If you’d like to meet someone who lives out the compassion of Christ every day in the slums of India, go here: http://www.gfa.org/videos/real-life-hero/