Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gospel for Asia's Christmas Program

For a few years now, Gospel for Asia's Texas-based ministry has been offering a Christmas season outreach to impoverished families in India. Much like the seasonal gift catalouges you receive in the mail this time of year, they send their supporters a catouloge of various types of practical gifts we may purchase for souls who are both spiritually and physically hungry.

The purpose of this Christmas giving program is not simply to inundate the Dalits and other poverty-stricken Indians with material possessions, hoping the generosity will lead to conversions. As GFA founder K.P. Yohnanan writes:

As you are well aware, the mission of Gospel for Asia is to proclaim the Gospel and establish New Testament churches among the most unreached people of Asia. How, then, do buffalos, goats, chickens and other farm animals fit into the equation?

The answer is simple: Many of our native missionaries work among the Dalits-the poorest of the poor who daily struggle for survival and who live in slave-like conditions. It is not only painful to see them suffer, but as followers of Christ who deeply care for the poor, we cannot close our hearts to their distress.

Besides livestock (a donor may purchase a pair of egg-producing ckickens for $11; a milking goat for $55, or even a cow for $350), other gifts are available which will help enable the recipients to make a living. For example, a sewing machine ($85) enables a widow to sell clothes in order to feed her family. A tool set ($80) can be used by laborers to make a living, and a new fishing boat ($1,500) provides the means for villagers who lost everything in the tsunami of a few years ago to make a living. Even a sement house can be built through this program for only $5,000. For $30, a donor can choose to purchase a BioSand Water filter, thus providing safe and clean drinking water for several families. A blanket can keep a child warm for only $5. Any of these gifts, given in love, would make a great birthday present for Jesus!

Showing compassion in practical ways to the poor goes hand in hand with telling them about the God Who loves them. As James writes, "If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" (James 2:16).

Gospel for Asia's steadfast commitment to spreading the Gospel of salvation and improving the existence of people their missionaries love deeply is exactly the type of tenderness expressed by Christ and the early Church. Few of us will ever know the extreme poverty so commonplace in Asia, but most of us have it within our means to show concern for just one family. To read more about Gospel for Asia's Christmas ministry, click here:

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