Legend held that Laksh’s homeland had been cursed for generations. Long ago, it is said, kings used it as a place to dispose of dead bodies and other refuse, and now spirits roamed the land, tormenting the people. When one of the spirits attacked Laksh’s wife, however, he knew she wasn’t suffering because of dead kings. This was the work of jealous neighbors.
Pastor Chanchal prayed fervently as Laksh walked into the other room, and to the amazement of Daivya and the other visitors, peace descended on the home. As the pastor spoke with His God, Udgita became calm.
As soon as he realized what had happened, Daivya rushed over to Pastor Chanchal and asked for the booklet he had used to drive out the evil spirit.
“I did not use any magic book like you,” Pastor Chanchal said, “but I used the Word of God. I have no Bible to give you, but what I can give you is this piece of literature. The Word of God is written in it. You may read it.”
That evening, Daivya couldn’t stop reading the literature. The next morning, he came to Pastor Chanchal’s house full of questions, and by the end of their visit, he had found his answers in Jesus Christ.
“I want you to come over to my house,” Daivya told the pastor, “and if you could help me remove all the religious booklets [and] charms, it would be so kind of you. I will now go to my teachers, and I will tell them of the new things I have learned about Christ.”
Woman’s Husband and Former Witch Doctor Share Christ’s Love
Having seen God’s tremendous power, Laksh and Udgita also decided to follow Christ, and like Daivya, Laksh began telling his co-workers about the One who had given his family new life.
Three-year-old Jishan felt his grip on his father’s finger slip as the crowd jostled them in the marketplace. Suddenly, his father was gone. Strangers surrounded him.
Crying helplessly in the midst of the crowd, Jishan had no idea he would never see his father, mother or sister again.
In the years that followed, Jishan spent many days crying at street corners, hoping his family would find him. Instead, he found disappointment day after day.
Train Ride to a Life of Begging
When a kind man saw little Jishan crying in the market, he took Jishan home to care for him as his own son. Even at such a young age, Jishan’s religious beliefs were strong and contradicted those of his new family. The family treated him very well, but their different beliefs bothered Jishan deeply. Eventually, 9-year-old Jishan ran away and boarded a train bound for a major city.
Upon arriving, Jishan didn’t have a friend in the world. He had nothing to eat for the first two days in the city. To survive, he slept in the train station and partially appeased his gnawing hunger by begging.
“I used to miss my home,” Jishan remembers. “I used to think, What happened to my father? Where is he? I used to cry all alone at the station.”
At one point during the two or three weeks he spent on the streets, a group of boys beat Jishan in the middle of the night and stole the few coins he had earned through begging. Wary of everyone after the attack, Jishan isolated himself from others. But he did not go unnoticed—a loving eye spotted him among the multitudes packed into the city.
A House of Hope
One day, a lady approached Jishan. When she asked what his name was or if he was hungry, he barely answered her. The lady told Jishan about a place he could call home, and after listening to her for a little while, Jishan decided to trust her and accept her help.
The lady brought Jishan to a Gospel for Asia-supported home for street boys. When Jishan arrived, he met the men, women and other rescued boys who would become his family. The staff gave Jishan a bath, tasty food and his very own cot in a room shared with other at-risk boys.
The environment was new for Jishan, but he embraced it. The rooms were kept neat and clean, and there was structure to the days’ events. Jishan had fallen behind in his schooling since running away, and he earnestly wanted to catch up, so the staff arranged for him to receive extra tutoring.
One Big Family
The men and women serving at the boys’ home truly love the children they minister to. As new children enter the home, the staff recognize each child’s individual needs.
“[The children] are already depressed, they are downtrodden,” explained Manik, the project coordinator for the Gospel for Asia-supported boys’ home. “They are not happy, and people despise them in the world outside. If we are not kind to them, if we do not show love to them, they will lose hope . . . and I don’t want that to happen to these children.”
The atmosphere in the boys’ home is that of a big family, with many “uncles,” “aunts” and “brothers” to learn from, play with and cherish. Children who are sullen or dejected when they arrive at the boys’ home soon learn to laugh again through the love shown to them day after day. Jishan quickly recognized this genuine love.
Once, when Jishan experienced trouble with his legs and became weak and tired due to illness, the staff ladies cared for him and served him in many ways. They provided medicine for him and even massaged his weak legs.
“I will never forget the way they have cared and loved me,” Jishan said. “They have served me more than a mother would do to her children.”
Positive Role Models for Life
Jishan, now 16 years old, is a testimony of the love and encouragement the Gospel for Asia-supported staff pour out for the children at this children’s home. Their lives demonstrate gentle yet strong character, and Jishan values their direction and counsel.
“Had that sister not come to the railway station and not met me that day,” Jishan shared, “my life would have totally changed. I would have become very bad and rogue. If I had not met that sister, I would have been into criminal activities, drinking, consuming drugs, maybe stealing, even murdering. Who knows?
“One of the reasons I like the staff here at [the boys’ home],” Jishan continued, “is because even if I do [make a] mistake, they correct me . . . and I don’t feel bad when they scold me because I know that they are trying to correct me. They are trying to teach me what’s right and what’s not right. . . . I know they do it out of love and concern to make my future and my life [better]. I am very grateful and thankful to them.”
Jishan might be miles apart from his biological family, yet he has joy in his heart because of the love showered upon him in Jesus’ name.
Through the kindness and care Jishan received at the Gospel for Asia-supported children’s home, his ambition changed from simply finding some food to fill his stomach to becoming a cricket player and completing his education. What’s more, God’s love has been demonstrated in ways Jishan will remember the rest of his life.
With many peaceful blessings
The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.
This week, we’re delighted to share some good news! It’s always a pleasure to be able to share positive developments with you: I hope that you’re as encouraged by this news as we are!
Our first bit of good news is about about Pastor Nadarkhani, who was arrested along with his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh on 13 May during a raid on his home. Two other people, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi, were also arrested. We’re pleased to report that Pastor Nadarkhani and his wife were released immediately and Yasser Mosayebzadeh and Sahed Fadaie were released after making excessive bail payments.
However, judges had initially refused to accept Mr Omidi’s bail payment, saying that he faced additional charges. He was eventually released on 7 June and informed he would be “summoned again.”
Staying with Iran, we also have an update on Maryam Naghash Zargaran an Iranian Christian woman who is serving a four-year prison sentence. Maryam has severe health problems that were made worse by her time in prison – we’re relieved to tell you that she’s been released on furlough for treatment.
Finally, we are pleased to report that the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) has determined that crimes against humanity have been committed in a “widespread and systematic manner“ by Eritrean officials since 1991; and is urging a swift international response to bring an end to these violations and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Together with our partner Human Rights Concern-Eritrea (HRCE), CSW campaigned for the creation of the COIE and the extension of its mandate to include an investigation into crimes against humanity.
We have also been working to bring the human rights violations in Eritrea to the attention of the world for many years, so this verdict is a fantastic answer to prayer!
As usual, you can find your digital edition of this week’s Prayer Diary below.
In summary, please pray:
- Thanking God for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani and Tina Pandide Nadarkhani and for the conditional release of Yasser Mosayebzadeh, Sahed Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi;
- That the Iranian authorities would drop all charges against Mr Mosayebzadeh, Mr Fadaie and Mr Omidi;
- For God’s protection for Mr Omidi as he remains in prison;
- For Maryam Naghash Zargaran’s health to improve;
Thanking God for the the COIE report of– and praying it would mark the beginning of effective international action to secure justice for victims of crimes against humanity.
Please join me in praying for all the millions of Christians throughout the world who are suffering great abuse and torture on a daily basis because they have faith and trust in the Lord our God.
Praise be the Lord
With many prayerful blessings
A life of hard labour: A pastor’s sentence
Lim Hyeun-soo, a Korean-Canadian pastor from Toronto, has been sentenced to a life of hard labour for numerous charges – including attempting to overthrow the government and establish a religious state in North Korea.
“Pastors like Lim, who have seen so much of how North Korea treats its prisoners, cannot easily be released,” said an Open Doors field worker. “I don’t see Lim returning home anytime soon.”
Pastor Lim, aged 60, has travelled to North Korea over 100 times to do humanitarian work. Though he was not involved in the country’s underground churches, the harsh sentencing has come after several of months of crackdowns on Christians by the North Korean regime.
“A case like this does outrage the North Korean government,” says the Open Doors field worker. “North Korean believers could be dealt with even more harshly if they are exposed.”
Conditions in the camps
Sources in North Korea have confirmed that, in the recent crackdowns, Christians have been murdered and others have been incarcerated in prisons and labour camps. In both detention facilities, people are starved, tortured and the death rate is extremely high.
“I was locked up for years,” said a North Korean refugee. “I will never forget the prisoners who were too weak to continue their work. The guards would pick them up and put them on an automatic belt that threw them in a large oven while the prisoners were still alive.”
Christianity in North Korea
Christianity is seen as a threat to the North Korean regime: they believe Christians spy for the enemy, meet in secret and, at most, only give lip service to the North Korean government. Such disloyalty deserves severe punishment.
Despite this tragic arrest and others, the church has survived almost 70 years of severe persecution. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians still secretly profess their faith.
If you receive the Open Doors Magazine, please look out for some inspiring letters written by North Korean pastors in the next mailing.
For more information about Open Doors and the many Christians who are being persecuted in many countries throughout the world please go to:-
Please join me in praying that our Father God blesses mightily all the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Him and to give them the strength to endure all the atrocities perpetrated against them.
In Jesus name
RESPONDING TO ‘ISLAMIC STATE’
Even in the face of the fiercest attacks, the church in Syria has continued to stand. Robert, Open Doors co-ordinator for Syria and Iraq, says: “We observe a new development best described as an ‘internally displaced church’. Every now and then we discover complete parishes adrift. Islamic State confiscated their church building, demolished their valuables, and burned their Bibles.
“Despite this, the priest and his deacons continue holding services. Functions are fulfilled and prayers ascend to God. All tangible elements of the church have disappeared, yet the church as the Body of Christ still functions.”
‘WHO WOULD HELP IF THE CHURCH DOESN’T HELP?’
The church is a vital lifeline for thousands of people in Syria. Pastor Samuel says: “If we did not help the suffering families who have no income, how would they survive? Who would help if the church doesn’t help?”
Open Doors is providing food and other essential items to almost 10,000 families – around 50,000 people – every month through local partners like Pastor Samuel. This is only possible thanks to the faithful prayers and generosity of people like you. A gift of £71 today can provide an emergency food parcel to feed a family of five in Syria for a month.
|With many thanks for your prayers.
Hansini steeled herself against the pain of another blow. Soon her body would turn all shades of black and blue, but her attacker wouldn’t be satisfied. He wasn’t simply angry like the others. This man was desperate. At 17 years old, Hansini had shamed the entire village by her actions, but everyone blamed him. Now he was determined to see his reputation restored—no matter the cost.
Hansini’s village wasn’t much to look at. The people were poor and most struggled for daily survival.
Still, they had some things to their credit: They were faithful to their traditional deities, and though their lifestyles wouldn’t suggest it, they belonged to highly distinguished clans.
Between working as daily wage labourers and scraping together meals, the people still managed to look down on the lower castes. As if their status weren’t bad enough, many in the lower castes had deserted the traditional religion and begun following Jesus, making them even more disgraceful.
Although most villagers wanted nothing to do with the low caste people, however, there were a few who had given up their reputation to join the Jesus-followers. To her family’s dismay, Hansini was one of them.
From the beginning, Hansini’s parents, Badal and Deepti, strictly opposed her new faith, but their stance did little to calm the rest of the village. The teenager had brought scandal to their doors and something needed to be done.
Old friends became hostile to the family, who received no end of scolding from neighbours and extended relatives.
“You have let your children run so free that you cannot even make them obey you,” the village elders told them.
It didn’t matter that their son and younger daughter still behaved respectably, or that Badal and Deepti worked hard every day. Their own beliefs were of no consequence because Hansini’s actions had overshadowed them all.
The villagers were disgusted when the lower castes began following Jesus and meeting as a fellowship.
One day, Badal couldn’t bear the humiliation any longer. Hammered by the scorn of his neighbours, the man snapped, and he beat Hansini with all the fury and shame he felt. But even as the dark bruises began to show, Hansini stood firm with a determination no one understood.
When her brother and sister begged her to come back to their religion, she just told them more about Jesus and asked them to join her instead.
The neighbours were disgusted, and the family could only wait helplessly for Hansini to relent and clear the family name. After three years passed, though, it seemed she never would.
Despite the village’s protests, Hansini refused to give up her faith in Christ.
One day, Hansini came home with a surprise from her church’s Christmas gift distribution program. It didn’t make sense that the poor, lowly believers could give such a nice gift, but the gleam of the new sewing machine was undeniable. Hansini didn’t waste any time in putting it to use.
She began sewing and selling mosquito nets, and Badal and Deepti watched in amazement as their wayward daughter started earning a significant income. Rather than using it for her personal gain, she took care of her family’s bills.
“Jesus Christ is the giver of all good gifts,” Hansini explained to her parents, “and it is because of the love and grace of Christ that our family is able to overcome all our financial struggles.”
As they looked at what they’d received from the daughter and the God they rejected, Badal and Deepti realized how wrong they had been. Together, they decided that if Jesus could love them while they rejected Him, then they would serve Him no matter what the neighbours said.
And as word spread of Hansini’s success, the neighbours had plenty to say.
The sewing machine Hansini received from her church allowed her to support her whole family.
After three years of hostility, the villagers weren’t about to ignore this new development. With their objective in sight, they closed in on the girl who had defied them, and they asked her one simple question:
Would Hansini teach their children to sew, too?
The young woman happily agreed.
Today, Hansini teaches classes six days a week, borrowing a second sewing machine from a fellow believer, and hopes to share the love of Jesus with her students.
In the meantime, the villagers have stopped their hostile actions and some are even coming to church, eager to learn more about the longsuffering love of Christ. After seeing it clearly demonstrated through Hansini, it’s not so shameful anymore.
For more information about Gospel for Asia please go to:-
With many peaceful blessings
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Families all over South Asia didn’t receive perfume or ties last Christmas. Instead, they received gifts that changed their lives.
Nothing Temporary Here
Pranjal had no way of providing medical treatment for his ailing wife, Sukthi. A witch doctor told them she should have surgery to fix her decaying rib, but the cost of the operation was more than Pranjal could afford.
As a day labourer, Pranjal barely made enough to feed his family. In desperation, he went to the local Gospel for Asia-supported church and asked for financial help. But Pranjal received something even better than money. Instead of the church giving him money that could only temporarily fix what would be a prolonged problem, they gave him a cycle rickshaw so he could earn an income, provide for his family and get the medical treatments his wife needed.
The local GFA-supported pastor also began visiting the family and prayed for Sukthi’s healing.
A few months after receiving the gift, Pranjal took his wife to the hospital for a check up. Miraculously, the doctors told them regular medicine could help cure Sukthi’s sickness and no surgery was needed.
Pranjal and his wife knew it was the Lord Jesus working in their lives.
“If I had received financial help then that money would have been gone within a few days,” Pranjal said. “But the source you have given to us is never finished. It still helps us exist. Now I am earning a good amount through the cycle rickshaw by carrying passengers. I am taking my wife also for treatment in my vehicle, and I’m able to buy medicines for my wife. I am happy with the help provided to me by the church.”
New Carpenter in Town
Surviving was tough for Mahir and his family. He was scarcely able to provide for his family’s needs because he wasn’t able to find a job. However, GFA-supported pastors in the area took notice of his great need.
They invited Mahir and his family to attend their Christmas gift distribution program, and to Mahir’s surprise, he was gifted with carpentry tools.
Even though Mahir had no experience or knowledge in carpentry work, he began doing small repair jobs in his village. Slowly, his carpentry skills developed to the point where he was able to build furniture and even houses. Now, through this gift, Mahir is able to earn 1,500-2,000 rupees ($30-$40 US) a month, which is enough for him to take care of his family.
“It is good to have such programs in our region for needy and poor people that will uplift their living standards,” Mahir shared. “May God bless those who provided me with these carpentry tools.”
Satisfying Their Thirst
Shikar and his family were constantly getting sick from the water sources in their village.
“There was hardly a week or month in which we did not have to visit a doctor and spend our hard-earned income on medicine,” Shikar explained. “My family and I were often exposed to waterborne diseases because we had no choice but to use dirty and contaminated water from open wells for cooking and drinking.”
Shikar and his family suffered with stomach problems, jaundice, typhoid and diarrhea. And because necessity compelled them to use ponds, rivers and contaminated well water for bathing, they also suffered from skin infections.
The doctors told them they needed to use a water filter, but Shikar couldn’t afford to buy one. Fortunately, GFA-supported pastors provided for this need by giving Shikar a BioSand water filter from the Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalogue. Now he, his family and even other people in his village don’t have to worry about getting sick.
“Since the time the water filter was installed, no one has suffered from any waterborne diseases, and we are spared from unnecessary medical expenses,” Shikar shared. “Through these BioSand water filters, not only our physical thirst has been quenched, but also our inner thirst for the love of the Lord and for one another was met very strongly.”
With many peaceful blessings