Building a bridge of hope for the young

Stories like Yeramma’s reflect an alarming reality that is otherwise ignored. While other people her age were still asleep, Yeramma was already awake, laboring to wind threads of silk—something she would do for the next twelve hours. The silk mill owner provided her and her fellow child laborers food, the cost of which he would deduct from their meager pay. Worse, with every mistake, Yeramma and her fellow winders would suffer a beating and a flood of profanities from the owner.

Yeramma’s story is only one of the heartbreaking depictions of bonded labor in South Asia, as told by the Human Rights Watch. The group revealed that over 10 million juvenile laborers are being robbed of their childhood, forced to endure the dirt, smoke, and stench of manual labor in order to pay off the debts their parents have incurred from their employers. More than a decade after the report, its jarring observations still hold up in many farms, mines, and sweatshops around the world.

It is heart-breaking to see children living in such sorry situations, situations they did not choose for themselves. Fortunately, there is hope for these children.

God demonstrated His transformative and liberating power by sending His Son Jesus in the flesh to unshackle scores of people from slavery to sin and make them His children, children who enjoy His unceasing love and boundless care.

Today, God has entrusted Christians around the world, not just so-called missionaries and volunteers, with the task of sharing God’s love in word and deed. Many go to villages and slums, turning the people’s lives around by building bridges of hope—invisible but fortified structures that connect children and their families to God and His wonderful gifts of love, redemption, and liberation. Through sponsorships from kindhearted individuals overseas, children’s basic needs are provided for daily. More importantly, they are taught how to read and write, and come to understand God’s amazing love and the change it can bring to people who embrace it.

Through the years, countless children have been saved from poverty and abuse through such initiatives. Through a steady stream of support for these projects, millions of other children will find their way to hope and freedom.

Gospel for Asia provides opportunities for transforming the lives of children in South Asia. With programs like Bridge of Hope, the mission gives thousands of children the opportunity to learn Jesus’ love, a love which has touched and freed millions of people over the centuries. Visit this website to learn more about how you can help any of the group’s causes.

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To serve humbly in love: Missionaries and their role in aiding the underprivileged

In the first years of Christianity, the apostle Paul told followers in southern Galatia about the freedom and salvation people will obtain upon embracing Christ. But such freedom comes with a big responsibility: “[D]o not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love,” he said.

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Following Christ does not solely revolve around loving and praising God. Of equal importance is showing His love and compassion to others, God’s creations. Just as Jesus Christ lived a life of service and died on the cross to save mankind, the lives of followers of the Christian faith should be marked by acts of sacrifice for others.

There are many ways to show concern, kindness, and generosity. Simple deeds can begin in homes and communities. Those with a burning passion to reach out to the world’s underprivileged often join or support international missions. While huge challenges await all who desire to share Christ’s name in word and deed, the heavenly reward for obedience to God’s call is truly great.

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Mission agencies such as Gospel for Asia enable countless men and women who are unable to travel overseas take part in reaching the most unreached with the message of Christ’s great love by financially supporting and praying for Christian missionaries in South Asia. GFA works in nations where a majority of the population has yet to hear the Good News of salvation Jesus offers. Many people living within what is known as the 10/40 window are suffering from social, economic, and political ills. Furthermore, a majority of them have yet to hear of Christ’s redeeming love and the great hope He offers

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Around the world, missionaries assist the downtrodden through prayers, outreach programs and gifts to improve their lives, also offering other Christian resources that with the hope of freeing people from despair and hopelessness. . Many international missionaries have discovered the local believers are much more effective in sharing the Good News and establishing fellowships, because these men and women serve without cultural or linguistic barriers. Throughout the years, scores of Bible schools and Christian communities have sprung up in nations like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar aided only by the prayers of men and women overseas,.

Gospel for Asia shares the Good News in some of the most unreached countries of the world by training and supporting men and women God has called to share the love of Jesus, and partnering these faithful men and women with prayer and financial supporters around the world. Find out more about its missionary work at this website.

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How faith can tackle giant fears

What does it take to be one of God’s servants? The story of David, a young boy who tackled a colossal battle without even knowing the ways of war, is a perfect illustration of faithfulness as God’s sole requirement for everyone who wishes to be His servant; everyone who desires to heed His call of sharing the Good News.

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David’s courage and strong faith in God made a seemingly unthinkable victory possible. When his nine-foot warrior opponent stood ready to kill him, young David didn’t respond in fear. Instead, he took a stone and slung it right toward the giant’s head . Goliath immediately fell and crumbled in defeat.

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K.P. Yohannan, the founder of Gospel for Asia and an international leader in the Christian community, discussed in one of his books,Dependence Upon the Lord, how believers today face giant fears, just as David did. They sometimes hold themselves back because they fear the uncertainties that come with carrying out a mission that seems larger than life.

But such fears can only be tackled through faith in God. Left alone, fears will always remain fearful. The armies of Israel were afraid for many days before David stepped out in faith to face Goliath. It is important for believers to have confidence in God and recognize that spiritual growth and transformation often happen in the most difficult and fearful times of our lives, as we learn to trust God with our time, resources, talent and loved ones.

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In this regard, local missionaries serving in nations with emerging Christian presence deserve as much gratitude and recognition as the world could give. Amid fearful difficulties and adversity, they faithfully minister from one far-flung area to the next, bringing the Good News to unreached communities and transforming lives through God’s love.

Through locally-trained missionaries, Gospel for Asia (GFA) brings the Good News of hope and salvation to some of the most unreached peoples in the world. Find out more about the organization’s missionary work on this website.

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Everything Changes When You Fall In Love

by K.P. Yohannan

When Jesus walked on this earth, He was deeply moved
by the lostness and suffering of humanity. His heart
ached over the harvest fields that were about to perish. He wept
over Jerusalem and a nation that had rejected their Messiah. He
knew what was waiting for them, and it broke His heart.

We cannot be disciples of Christ and live like Jesus lived
unless we too have a broken heart and tears to weep over
the lost world.

I remember well, how often I stood on the streets of
northern India where I preached the Gospel for eight years,
looking at the lost multitudes, unable to control my tears.

That was before I came to the United States, and before I
wanted to become like everyone else.

I was studying in seminary, pastoring a church and doing
well. Two or three years went by, and I found I couldn’t cry
anymore. No, I didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, I was busy
preaching and teaching, and people thought I was spiritual.

However, without my being aware of it, the affections
of my heart had shifted from being consumed with reaching
dying souls to desiring material things.
I found myself buying
expensive clothing, books for my growing library, watches,
a stereo system and other things to feed my new appetite. At
the same time, I was committed to conservative faith, and I
memorized wonderful prayers by Peter Marshall and others to
include with my preaching, and people liked it. But on the inside
I was dying. Even the Bible had become just a tool for me to
prepare my sermons.

There I was, asking myself, “How can something like this
happen to someone like me?”

I had known God so intimately, He had talked to me and I
heard Him, but now I could not find Him.

It was time for me to make a decision about what to
do with my life. I didn’t see any sense to continue in ministry
because my heart was dead.

As a last attempt, I said to myself, “I will talk to the Lord and see if He will talk back to me.”

I went into my study, sat on the floor and simply prayed:
“Jesus, I don’t know what to do. I know so much and everybody
thinks I am a spiritual person, but I am so lost. I don’t know where You are, and I can’t find You. Please talk to me.” And He
did. At the end of seeking Him for two weeks, the Lord showed
up. I can’t explain how, but within a few seconds, millions of
pictures began to flash before my eyes: faces, images and places I
had been to on the mission field. And then He said, “I have been
waiting for this day when you would come to the end of yourself.
I have called you. I know you.”

I expected the Lord to say, “You messed up. Sell everything,
go back to India and wear rags.” But He didn’t.

Instead, I was so overcome with the awareness that He
loves me, He understands me and He wants me.

I wasn’t able to stop crying. For weeks I couldn’t think of anything else than
just being His. I was so overwhelmed by His love that He could
have asked me anything outrageous, and I would have done it.

I believe God, in His mercy, allowed me to take this journey
so the ministry He wanted me to do was born out of love for Him.
One outcome of this encounter with the Lord was that I
looked at the possessions I had accumulated for myself, and I
started giving them away. They had lost their pull on my heart.

Another was that my heart was once again aching for the
lost world, and I could pray and weep for the multitudes who
were dying without Jesus.

My dear friend, you may feel spiritual in a crowd
on Sunday morning, but following the Lord is intensely
personal.
You cannot borrow this life from someone else, nor
can you get it by imitating the actions of others. You see, my
giving away material things and praying with tears for the lost
had nothing to do with attempting to act like Jesus. It was the
result of being overcome by His love for me and falling in love
with Him.

The apostle John wrote, “We love, because He first loved us”
(1 John 4:19 NASB).

I don’t know where you are in following the Lord, but if your
heart is unmoved by the things that break Jesus’ heart and your
eyes are dry, then I urge you to seek Him and wait in His presence
until you are overcome by His love and you love Him back.

Everything about following the Lord will change when you
fall in love with Jesus.

Article taken from Gospel for Asia’s Magazine GFA World.

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Choosing Not to Return

After we are saved and begin our relationship with God, we learn that our journey with Him has just started. We discover that even everyday, ordinary components of life-relationships, emotional security, accomplishments, our profession or position, financial stability or even our cultural or national heritage—can hinder us from fully giving our lives for His purposes and growing closer to Him. One by one, God calls us to walk away from them.

Abraham, Moses and Joseph—all those in the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us—were also called to walk away from “normal” lives. Let us see how they responded:

“All these people . . . admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16, NIV).

The “opportunity to return”—what a significant statement this is!

It is a challenge to follow His call to walk away from these things—but it is an even greater challenge to realize we always have the chance to turn around, to go back to a life that is more comfortable, perhaps, yet unsurrendered.

Our enemy, the devil, knows this, and he works hard to persuade us to do so. Let us look at four things he uses to try to make us return:

Material things

Demas, one of Paul’s co-workers, had this problem. This man traveled so many miles with Paul and shared hardships with him; he could have become another Timothy, but Paul says of him, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). We will always face financial struggles and difficulties of some sort, have friends who are better off than we are, and feel the need to do something to improve our lives and take better care of our families. The devil will use this. It’s a strong pull, but we must make a decision: Life or death, we will not return.

The fear of the unknown

The children of Israel suffered under terrible slavery in Egypt. Yet after God led them out and did mighty acts on their behalf, they longed to return, remembering the leeks and the garlic. What happened? They were afraid of what would happen to them in an unfamiliar land filled with giants. We, too, face unknowns; what we must remember is that God is bigger than the giants, our problems and our fears.

Losing our focus and vision

Paul’s earthly journey was marked with one focus: a passion to see people come to Christ. He kept this focus right up until the end of his life and was able to say with confidence, “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). You and I can only continue in this journey as long as we keep sight of the vision before us. Let us not allow the devil to use the day-to-day discouragements to take our eyes off our purpose. The passage in Hebrews promises us that God has prepared a heavenly city for those who follow Him in faith. But what good is a city that has no people in it? Our goal is to populate that city, to bring a world of souls with us into eternity.

Spiritual deception

So many Christians lose sight of God’s call when they become ensnared in self-focus and introspection—all in the name of godliness, deeper life and devotion. But only one theme runs through the entire Bible: Christ, the Savior of the world. The Old Testament promises the coming of the Redeemer; the New Testament narrates Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection to save the lost and gives instruction to believers on living and demonstrating Christ’s life to the world. It is a fact-knowing Christ and walking intimately with Him will produce a love and passion for the lost world. If our so-called “deeper life” doesn’t have this result, it is a counterfeit.

So as we face the pull of this world and the pressure from the devil to walk away from God’s call, let us remember that we are on earth for only a short time. We are strangers and aliens to this world; we only have a visa for this life, but our passport is from another country.

The men and women of Hebrews chose not to return to their earthly country because they recognized that God’s work went beyond time and space. Their true country was a heavenly one. May the Lord find us, too, focused on what is real and authentic—beyond circumstances, what we feel, what others say or what the enemy throws at us.

And if He were to write another chapter like Hebrews 11, may He find your name and mine as examples there for others to follow.

Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & President of Gospel for Asia

Article published in Gospel for Asia’s Send! Magazine

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Welcoming Jesus

Girlpraying

I stood one day at a busy Bombay street corner, waiting for the light to change, and I heard the voice of a young girl behind me.

“Sir,” she said, “my father is dead. My mother is sick and can’t beg anymore. I have a little brother, and he is very hungry. Would you please give me a few pennies so I can buy him some bread?”

Her words pierced my heart.

The light turned green. The crowd around me surged forward across the street, but I turned around to see who was speaking to me.

There she stood in rags, dirt under her fingernails and dust and sweat mingled on her face-one of the most beautiful little girls I had ever seen. Her big brown eyes were set in a small round face, and thick black hair fell the length of her body.

I dug into my pockets for all the change I could give her, and then I walked away weeping. The Lord spoke to my heart just then: “What do you think about that little beggar girl you just met?” He asked. “Is her life as dear to you as your own daughter’s?”

The Lord stopped me in my tracks that day in Bombay, and He taught me how precious children are to His heart.

How Do We Respond?

If we desire that God not only bless our lives but make us a blessing to others as well, our hearts must remain open to what concerns Him: the spiritually lost, the downtrodden of society, the poor and needy.

Today we are face to face with the child laborers of Asia, the street children roaming the cities, the tsunami orphans, the boys and girls who go hungry every night. How do we respond to these children who have been cast aside by society, trampled underfoot, ignored and traumatized?

Their need is staggering, beyond our scope of comprehension. Our resources are abundant and overflowing. We often sense the urge to take action simply out of obligation.

But Jesus plainly tells us that our response should begin with Him: “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me” (Mark 9:37). In essence, He says, “Reach out to these boys and girls, make room for them in your hearts, care for them and embrace them. Welcome them as if you were welcoming Me.”

Do you see how this changes our whole perspective? Now our prayers and gifts on behalf of these children become our highest privilege, for when we welcome these children, we gladly welcome Jesus Himself into our hearts and homes.

A Joyful Surprise

But this is only the beginning. This guiding principle is at the very core of our Bridge of Hope program. As we educate thousands of Dalit, low-caste and displaced children, we care for them as we would Jesus Himself. And in the process, we have been joyfully surprised.

As these boys and girls hear about Jesus and at the same time experience His love and compassion in a tangible way, they are finding Him as Lord and Savior. Parents wonder at the changes in their children’s behavior. Community leaders marvel to see literacy rates rise. Families and villages are impacted with the Gospel.

Where GFA missionaries were previously opposed, persecuted or run out of town, they are now gladly trusted and accepted. Gospel workers are seeing the Good News spread more quickly than they ever expected in areas completely devoid of any Christian witness. Flourishing churches with 100 or more members have sprung up in about a year, instead of the three or four years it would normally take to attain this growth in unreached communities.

God never despises small beginnings, and He will never walk away from a little child. When we share His heart and minister to these little ones, we make a twofold discovery: In welcoming Jesus and making it our privilege to touch the lives of children with His love, we also join with Him as He opens a way for the Gospel into villages and hearts once staunchly resistant. Thus, our highest privilege is also the answer to their deepest need-and it becomes our joy to share in the eternal fruit that results.

To learn more about GFA Bridge of Hope, or to sponsor a child, click here.

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The Father’s Love for Us

When I was growing up, I was very shy and timid. I never participated in any sports, and I never confronted anyone about anything. During class, I sat there afraid that the teacher was going to ask me a question.

After completing high school, convinced that Jesus wanted me to serve Him, I left home for North India, more than 2,000 miles away, to serve the Lord with Operation Mobilization mission teams. Every day I prayed and read the Bible. I was doing all the right things, but I was still shy, withdrawn and nervous.

But one day, I read a verse of Scripture that completely changed my life. Ephesians 1:6 told me that I was “accepted in the Beloved.”

This turned the whole world upside-down for me. I realized that regardless of what people thought about me, the circumstances I found myself in, my temperament, inadequacies, inabilities, failures or shortcomings, I was accepted by the living God, and I was somebody special. And I learned that in everything He allows in my life—even the worst situations—He has a purpose: preparing me to become more like His Son (Romans 8:29).

As we apply this understanding on a daily basis, we can look upon fears and despair with a different view. We can be freed from anxieties, anger and bitterness. Knowing and believing the truth that our Heavenly Father loves us just as He loves Jesus (see John 17:23) gives us the strength to do all we need to do, and to continue our journey.

This is my prayer for you, that you will find your rest in the perfect love of God as you offer your life to be used by Him.

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Righteousness Is a Gift – Godliness Is Not

When a famous scientist, artist or celebrity is interviewed on television, the host will ask about his or her amazing talents and most outstanding achievements.

If Christ were on such a show, I believe He would simply answer: “The most significant thing in my life? I am broken, a nobody and a worm” (see Psalm 22:6).

“Come, follow Me and become like Me,” He would add, “and this is the way you get there: ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ ” (Matthew 11:29).

Learning from Jesus how to be broken and lowly is authentic New Testament Christianity. It is so alien to our modern version that conditions us to become strong, independent and able to articulate theology.

Both God’s work and ours

Next to the Bible, there are a handful of books that have changed my life, and Roy Hession’s book The Calvary Road is one of them. Listen to what he says about brokenness:

“The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory—that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words, it is dying to self and self-attitudes. . . .

“Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings His pressure to bear, but we have to make the choice.”

People are mistaken if they think they can become instantly holy and godly by praying for it. You see, righteousness is a gift, but godliness is not. Godliness can only be gained through dying to self and obedience to Jesus, learning from Him how to walk in humility. That’s the reason He stands at the door and knocks, continuing to speak to us through His Word and many other ways. But because the only door to godliness is brokenness and yielding, He must wait until we choose the way of the cross.

We see Him

Usually the last thing we want to do is to give up our cherished self. What then will motivate us to desire to be broken? It’s when we behold the willingness of Jesus to choose the cross for our sake.

We see Him “who, being in the form of God . . . made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6–8 ).

“We see Him willing to have no rights of His own,” says Hession, “willing to let men revile Him and not revile again, willing to let men tread on Him and not retaliate or defend Himself. Above all, we see Him broken as He meekly goes to Calvary to become men’s scapegoat by bearing their sins in His own body on the Tree.”

It didn’t come easy for Jesus, who knew no sin, to humble Himself to the point of being completely cut off from God there at the cross. The very thought caused Him such agony that His sweat became like drops of blood. In anguish He asked His Father if there was any other way for us to be saved than for Him to drink this cup of suffering—but then He responded, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

No other way than surrender

Likewise, there is no other way to godliness than through brokenness and dying to our self. We, too, must come to a place where we surrender our self-love and self-preservation and say to the Lord, “I am ready to take Your yoke upon me and learn from You how to die to myself, to pick up my cross and follow You.”

Many believers mentally understand the importance of brokenness, and they recognize that it is the only door to the life of godliness they desire. However, in their hearts they cannot find the motivation or willingness to embrace death to self.

If you find yourself in this place, I encourage you to spend time reading and meditating on the passages of Scripture that describe what it took Jesus to become the sacrifice for your sin. Then, ask God to open the eyes of your heart to truly see Him as if you were there, watching Him suffer and die for you. This internal vision will help create the desire in you to follow Him on this path of brokenness that leads to godliness.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan
Founder & President of Gospel for Asia

Article published in SEND! Magazine

 

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God-fearing people by K.P. Yohannan

I had never heard anything like it.

In a village on the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border in India, 50 families came to know the Lord within a short period of time. These were very simple but God-fearing people who heard the Gospel and responded to Jesus—Jesus who forgave their sins and set them free from bondage.

In the midst of their celebration and joy, they received an ultimatum. Their village chief and a band of others rounded up these 50 families and told them that they could no longer live in the village.

These new Christians hurried to pack their tattered clothes, pots and pans and other few belongings, and then they walked away from everything they had known. Like refugees from a war zone, they trudged out of the village, along with the elderly who could hardly walk, little children and pregnant women.

As they were leaving, the village chief told them that they would be allowed back only on two conditions: payment of a 500-rupee penalty per family, plus each would have to deny Christ.

But not one of them returned. They walked until they finally crossed over the border into Madhya Pradesh, finding shelter under trees in the jungle.

I thought about these people and the suffering and hardship they went through just to survive and find a place to settle down. They were so new to the faith. None of them had any theological background or had had a chance to attend seminars, retreats or Bible studies.

They had never even heard about some of the most elementary truths of the Bible, much less complex issues such as eschatology with its pre-, mid- or post-trib viewpoints. I doubt that any of them knew the books of the Bible. In fact, most of them were illiterate.

What made them willing to walk away from their huts, fields, friends and relatives?

If you asked them, this is what they would tell you: “We are walking away because of one reason—Jesus.”

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

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A Servant Of God by K. P. Yohannan

When I first saw a few clips from The Visual Bible’s Matthew, I didn’t like it. It showed Jesus laughing, celebrating after healing the sick and throwing children up in the air and catching them. He always seemed to be enthusiastic and happy when He was teaching or dealing with people.

You see, I come from a culture in which spirituality is measured by how solemn, dignified and holy your appearance is. This means that as a servant of God, you must wear white clothes, keep a serious face even if you are happy and carefully guard your behavior. You wouldn’t want to spoil your image by laughing out loud or running around playing with the kids.

All this actually comes from eastern mysticism, in which the way to holiness and spirituality is asceticism—the renouncing of all worldly pleasures, comforts and emotions. It is a counterfeit spirituality produced by Satan.

After viewing this film, I read through the four Gospels again just to see what Jesus was really like. For the first time, I gained an awareness of someone who was genuinely happy. There was a spirit of celebration, a positive note that I saw in His life. People felt drawn to Him, and in His presence, those with deadly diseases and even the worst sinners were filled with new hope.

Jesus came to this earth not to add gloom and hopelessness to people’s lives, but to bring light, hope, laughter and the joy of heaven to a sin-ridden world.

The angels didn’t announce His birth by saying, “Oh, what a sad and gloomy event. God’s Son is going to be persecuted and killed. Let us mourn and weep.” No! They were praising God and telling the shepherds about the good news of great joy for all people.

This entry was written by K.P. Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia, with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.

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