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Has the Church Become ‘Respectable’?

HowardThurman6“Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak. This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what extent a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of a civilization and of nations whose very position in modern life too often has been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to defenseless peoples.”

– Howard Thurman


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There is Power in Weakness

Augustine3


“In affliction, then, we do not know what it is right to pray for. Because affliction is difficult, troublesome, and against the grain for us, weak as we are, we do what every human would do. We pray that it may be taken away from us. However, if he does not take it away, we must not imagine that he has forgotten us. In this way, power shines forth more perfectly in weakness.”

– Augustine


FROM PRAISE TO SLAVERY TO PRAISE

NADISH was just like any other nine-year-old boy who didn’t take his schoolwork seriously. After his father died from cancer, Nadish was enrolled in a Bridge of Hope center in India, being loved by the staff there and given an education. One day, however, his mother scolded him for not devoting enough effort to school.

missing-children-of-asia-1

Nadish Sabharwal, before his abduction, in his official Bridge of Hope profile photo from 2007.

Not sure what else to do, Nadish ran away from home and found himself living in a large city railway station in India. There he met an elderly man who befriended him and took Nadish to his home village.

Forced into slavery, Nadish spent the next two years living as a prisoner and cleaning up animal waste all day. Every day after finishing his work, Nadish was locked in a room near the animals he cleaned up after and was given very little food to eat.

His mother grieved deeply.

She had already lost her husband to cancer, and now she had also lost one of her sons. Praise God that the Bridge of Hope center prayed diligently for little Nadish.

Nadish found hope in possible escape.

And then two years after Nadish was captured, a new boy was placed in the same room, and the landlord forgot to lock the door. Thirteen days after Nadish’s 12th birthday, he and his roommate escaped. Running to the nearest police station, the boys testified against their captor.

Back home and healing.

Nadish is now back home with his family, and participating in Bridge of Hope again. Please pray for Nadish. He is struggling mentally as a result of his lengthy captivity and ill treatment. Pray that he will be able to concentrate on his studies and catch up from what he missed.

missing-children-of-asia-2

Nadish and his mother Gopika, just a few days after his escape.


There are many more like Nadish

In India alone there are reports of 45,000 children missing each year.¹  This is a sad reality that children throughout South Asia face every day.

They go missing for many reasons.

Some are abducted by strangers and placed into forced labor, like Nadish. Others are trafficked and exploited in the sex trade. Still others are sold to families to work as domestic help. Some 44 million orphans and runaways are living on the streets, not aware of the danger that awaits them.²

India is not the only place

  • India has close to 13 million children younger than 15 in its workforce — more than any other country in the world. Some estimate the real number is closer to 100 million.3 That’s five times the population of the state of New York.
  • In Thailand, almost 1 out of every 10 children between the ages 10 and 14 are working rather than going to school.4
  • In Bangladesh, an estimated 27 percent of children ages 10-14 are working in a variety of hazardous occupations.5
  • In Sri Lanka, one of the most physically punishing forms of child labor is the fishing industry, which keeps the children in slave-like conditions and far from the public eye.6
  • UNICEF estimates that 4,500 children from Bangladesh are trafficked to Pakistan each year. Thousands more are sent to India and the Middle East.


How can we stop this?

Gospel for Asia is working among South Asia’s most endangered children. Click HERE to help an abandoned child. Go HERE if you’d like to sponsor a child in the Bridge of Hope Program.


Delhi Street Children’s Home

You can give toward rescuing children on the streets, teaching them about Jesus and His love and reuniting them with their families.

You can give toward rescuing children on the streets, teaching them about Jesus and His love and reuniting them with their families.


Bridge of Hope

You can sponsor a child in Asia and provide an education, the love of Christ, clean clothes, food and medical care.

You can sponsor a child in Asia and provide an education, the love of Christ, clean clothes, food and medical care.

 

Prayer

  • Pray for children to be rescued, reunited and accepted back into their families.
  • Pray for the physical needs of the children. Most do not get enough to eat, and the physical labor they are forced to do can cripple their bodies. Pray for the Lord to provide for them and protect them from harm.
  • Pray for the girls — and boys — forced to work in the sex trade. Ask the Lord to bring the brothel owners’ and customers’ misdeeds into the light and for the love of Jesus to permeate those dark places.
  • Pray for a radical attitude shift in South Asian society so citizens of these countries will demand an end to the exploitation of children.




Notes
1 National Human Rights Commission, http://nhrc.nic.in/
2 ChildLine India, www.childlineindia.org.in
3 ChildLine India, www.childlineindia.org.in
4 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report.
5 U.S. Department of Labor report.
6 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report.




World Leprosy Day

DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WITH HANSEN’S DISEASE? I don’t either.

RT12_04867Hansen’s disease — also known as leprosy — is one of the world’s oldest maladies. Leprosy is a bacterial disease that attacks the nervous system, particularly the nerves of the hands, feet and face. As the body absorbs cartilage into its system, victims of the disease slowly lose their fingers, toes and even limbs. While leprosy has been eradicated in the west, it is still active and greatly feared across Asia because of the disfigurement it can cause, the social stigma it carries, and because it can be transmitted through close contact with a patient.

There are tens of thousands of people suffering from leprosy in more than 1,000 leper colonies throughout South Asia. The social stigma is devastating, perhaps even worse than the disease itself. However, leprosy can be totally cured without permanent damage if medical help is sought immediately. Unfortunately, in remote places and among the poor, diagnosis and treatment often come too late. And sadly, only those among the cured who have no visible deformity will be able to integrate back into society. All others will have to live in leper colonies — alone or with their families — for the rest of their lives.

RT12_05736In the midst of this hopelessness, the light of Jesus Christ is breaking through, bringing hope to those who have been brushed aside by society. Please pray for Gospel for Asia’s leprosy ministry, that many suffering from this terrible disease would embrace the Savior, who is reaching out to them in love. GFA-supported missionaries in the leper colonies show Christ’s love by cleaning wounds and changing bandages, by giving medical care, by making special shoes to protect the people’s feet, by helping with household chores, by providing food, but most importantly by telling the people of and showing Christ’s love for them.

Recently a group of students traveled to Asia and visited a leprosy colony. Click the photo below to watch and share Ashley’s powerful story (but HD seems to short it out).


Here are some other Gospel For Asia resources:

http://www.gfa.org/pray/world-leprosy-day/
http://www.gfa.org/cs/leprosy-ministry/


Here are some web resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy_in_India
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002323/
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/index.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leprosy 

 

Thank you for sharing the plight of these unseen, yet precious people! 

  

TRANSFORM SUFFERING

“My personal trials have also taught me the value of unmerited suffering. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or to transform the suffering into a creative force.”


– Martin Luther King Jr.





IRAN RELEASES TWO CHRISTIAN WOMEN FROM EVIN PRISON

No bail required; charges of ‘proselytizing’ and ‘apostasy’ remain.

INTO THE FIRE by The Nomadic Farmers

ISTANBUL, November 18 (CDN) — Two Christian Iranian women, Maryam Rostampour, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad, 30, were released from prison this afternoon with no bail amid an international campaign calling for their freedom since their arrest on March 5.

Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh Esmaeilabad

The two women, whose health deteriorated while in detention at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, are at their homes recovering from their nine-month ordeal, an Iranian source told Compass. They still could face charges of proselytizing and “apostasy,” or leaving Islam.

The women were released at 3:30 p.m.

“Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release,” the two women said in a statement from United Kingdom-based Elam Ministries.

The women’s lawyer had been working to secure their release, and although they were expected to be released yesterday, he was not able to do so because of the high bail the court was demanding. The Compass source said that it was too soon to determine how the lawyer was able to secure their release without bail today, a rarity for Christians released from prison in Iran.

The source credited their release to international lobbying and pressure on the Iranian government.

“It was from the international pressure, and also the government couldn’t handle it anymore,” said the source. “Already their detention was illegal. At the same time, the government wasn’t ready to prosecute them for apostasy. They already have many headaches. They cannot handle everything.”

The source said he suspected the two women will be very closely watched and would not have full freedom of movement, limiting their contact with others.

Rostampour and Esmaeilabad were arrested in March and detained on charges of “acting against state security,” “taking part in illegal gatherings” and apostasy under Iran’s Revolutionary Court system.

On Aug. 9 the women appeared before a judge who pressured them to recant their faith and return to Islam or spend more time in prison. The two women refused. Last month, on Oct. 7, they were acquitted of the charge of “anti-state activities,” and their case was transferred to the General Court.

With a draft penal code that may include an article mandating death for apostates in accordance to sharia (Islamic law) still under parliamentary review, experts on Iran fear things may get worse for the country’s converts from Islam.

Elam reported that the women were “doing as well as could be expected, and are rejoicing in the Lord’s faithfulness to them.” The women reportedly lost a lot of weight during their imprisonment. Esmaeilabad suffered from back pain, an infected tooth and intense headaches, and Rostampour got severe food poisoning last month.

“Maryam and Marzieh have greatly inspired us all,” Director of Elam Ministries Sam Yeghnazar said today in a press statement. “Their love for the Lord Jesus and their faithfulness to God has been an amazing testimony.”

Compass has also learned that on Oct. 13 the leader of a large network of churches in the northern city of Rasht was arrested and is still in prison. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has had contact with his family and has been pressured to recant his faith and return to Islam, according to an Iranian Christian who requested anonymity. Nadarkhani is married and has two children under the age of 10.


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