Showing posts from category: Stories
Hidden away in the remote hills near the outskirts of Central and Eastern Nepal is the Mushar community; a people group who are considered ‘untouchable’ and thus, marginalized. Almost 80% of them do not own land but rather build small huts along the banks of a small river; they generally stay away from other communities.
According to Milan, alcoholism is high within the community.
“It is sad to see the men work hard as labourers and yet, waste their earnings by consuming alcohol,” Milan said.
The women usually stay at home; their literacy rate is just 1%.
It is for these people that Milan and Grace feel stirred in their hearts to reach out to. They have a burden to elevate the quality of life for these ‘untouchable’ that are shunned by society at large. And so, Milan and Grace have begun literacy classes in 3 different parts of the country.
They hope that someday these women will learn how to write, read and calculate. This will help them to take up some vocational training such as tailoring and in the future, they could turn it into a profession to make a living.
Milan and Grace have also started a free learning centre for the Mushar kids in Sarlahi, in central Nepal. Sadly, many of the kids stopped going to school because of discrimination.
When they first began the classes, children from other castes joined them but upon seeing the Mushar kids in the class, they stopped attending. Unfortunately, their parents simply did not want to see their children associate with these poor and lower caste children. Still, Milan and Grace have not given up hope and are still
Despite this, Grace and Milan have continued to see the hand of God working within this community. By demonstrating biblical principles such as equality, care and concern for others, this community is seeing the face of Christ through Milan and Grace’s actions.
Lives are slowly being transformed and Milan and Grace hope that through their actions, this community of people will come to know and accept Christ, even as their lives begin to change.
Milan has recently been accepted by the Department of Intercultural Studies at the Fuller Seminary for Spring of 2019. Please pray for generous donors and funding so that he may pursue his further studies next year.
If you’d like to know more about Milan and Grace’s ministry and how you can support them through our Co-Mission Partner Program, please visit their Profile at asiacms.net
Philippians 2:20-22 (ESV) – “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.”
Will we be willing to go back to our roots; serve our people and live alongside them at where they are? I first met Caleb and his wife, Esther (not their real names) in a region of Asia characterised by decades of ethnic unrest that at various times and places, escalated into armed conflict and pockets of insurgency. An attractive young couple, both are highly articulate and progressing well in their respective careers. Caleb has an advanced post-graduate degree in theology and Esther is a medical doctor.
What inspired me was that they both made life-changing choices. They chose to come back to serve, and in doing so, they had to forgo what others might regard to be better opportunities elsewhere – academic, professional and financial. Caleb serves as a very much-needed Christian leader, theological educator and trainer among his people, who for decades have seen many of their best young people leave the region for better opportunities elsewhere. Esther works with the local government, building the local medical infrastructure.
Christianity came into their area of great tranquil beauty through missionaries about a hundred years ago. Through waves of revival and large-scale people group movements, Christians now form the majority in the region’s population. However, although churches are now to be found in practically every street in their towns and in the surrounding villages, they face a host of challenges.
There is a constant brain drain – due to better education opportunities elsewhere, and in the decades prior, because of security concerns, families who could afford it would send their children out of the region. Eventually, entire groups of these families would resettle outside the region. Opium poppy is also planted in the nearby hill districts. This brings with it, many attendant issues. Local Christians are enticed to plant it and to engage in different aspects of a destructive trans-border activity. Drug addictions are an increasing concern.
Hence, choices of individuals such as Caleb and Esther to return to their roots to serve are more than a breath of fresh air, in situations that are otherwise, extremely challenging.
Caleb and Esther exemplify the spirit of Timothy described in Philippians 2:20-22. The challenges encountered by Caleb and Esther in returning to their roots are not unusual in much of the less developed and rural parts of Asia. Where the situations are accompanied by socio-political unrest, they add layers of difficulties through undeveloped economies, the lack of adequate educational institutions, relatively poor infrastructures and a variety of other issues.
The Holy Spirit is still speaking to Christians to give their lives in service. Travelling in Asia, it is a privilege to meet other Calebs and Esthers. They do not call attention to themselves – they just serve. They represent a growing band of Asian Christians who are making life-changing choices as they serve in different parts of Asia. They are privileged in their education and family backgrounds, but they choose to live a life of service in locations that are often challenging. That is an essence of missional living.
Peace and Grace,
Chan Nam Chen
In June 2018, the Asia Gateway Residential Training program, held at the Seminari Theologi Malaysia, brought together a colourful combination of cultures and personalities from seven nations across Asia.
Jamshed Gill arrived from Pakistan with high hopes to discover more about cross-cultural missions and in the course of his stay at Asia Gateway, he learned beyond that…
Jamshed is a pensive theologian; always looking deeper at the things before and around him, so that he can, in turn, do more. Reflecting on his childhood days, Jamshed remembers being “impressed by the services of the Church Mission Society (CMS) in Pakistan.”
He recalls hundreds of students from other villages, who studied at the high school in his own village – men and women who went on to become great witnesses of Christianity in the whole area.
When he heard about AGT from a CMS affiliate, he jumped at the opportunity to see CMS at work more closely. The fact that it focused on cross-cultural teachings only stirred his interest even more.
During his one-month stay at Asia Gateway, Jamshed learnt about the importance of inter-denominational and inter-faith differences within the cross-cultural context. Above all, one pertinent fact resonated with him; “I realized that I am not the only true believer,” Jamshed said. He discovered a broader worldview of thinking and reasoning, which appealed to his intellectual nature.
“We should humble ourselves and learn Christian values beyond our cultural context; Christ came for the whole world. If we want to be one in Christ, we should deal with others as our brothers and sisters, not missionary competitors,” he added.
Jamshed is also using his knowledge from AGT to help him work on his thesis for a Doctor of Ministry degree. Before this, his only exposure in ministry work was in Pakistan, Nepal and Malaysia but now he believes he has a broader understanding of other countries as well.”
“I believe this will help me to become more tolerant and hospitable to people from other denominations and beliefs, which will allow me to connect with more people and build a stronger network,” he said.
Jamshed admits that he also noticed his limitations while at Asia Gateway. “I have discovered that I need to be more patient, and give time and space to others. One strong realisation for me was that people are not alike; we should accept them despite their differences,” he added.
“As a writer, theologian and philanthropist, I have always tried to encourage people to come out of their fears. For the depressed Pakistani Christian community, I believe in the words of Shakespeare: ‘the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars; but in ourselves, that we are underlings.’”
Jamshed is looking forward to putting his experience at AGT to good use and go beyond what he has been doing so far; working more on bridging denominational gaps in Pakistan. “Our differences do not divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate these differences that do,” he said.
The recently concluded Asia Gateway Residential Training, held in the month of June 2018 at the Seminari Theologi Malaysia, brought together a colourful combination of cultures and personalities from seven nations across Asia. Prairie Vo, a freelance translator from Vietnam shares her experience…
At the first hello, it is easy to conclude one pertinent fact about Prairie; she is shy. One might even perceive her to be a tad timid and quite quiet. But after a month amidst strangers, who would go on to become her friends, Prairie emerged strong, brave, bold and rather chatty!
It seemed as if her month-long stay allowed her to discover more of who she really is and can become – through God and the comforting community of peers He had placed her in…
During her brief testimony at the Asia Gateway Training, she admitted that she came from a family of chronically shy people, who most of the time shunned spending time strangers. Yet, this demure, young beauty from Ho Chi Min City braved crossing the borders to spend a whole month, learning and living with complete strangers. Why?
It was a simple heart’s desire to know more about God’s mission. Prairie wanted to understand the biblical context of missions, particularly within the background of her own country, life, and ministry.
“What I learned at Asia Gateway was transformative and eye-opening in so many ways. I discovered all the dimensions of God’s heart for mission throughout the Bible.”
“I understood that mission starts with God and is fulfilled in Him. As the Church, we are called to partner with God in His mission. God wants to redeem not only human beings but also the animals, nature, culture, i.e. the whole creation,” Prairie said.
Her time at Asia Gateway also proved to be a contemplative one. She began to take a closer look at her own church’s traditions and practices more critically, and “more lovingly at the same time.”
Prairie added that she learned to have a more open and loving attitude towards people of other faiths in her country. “I’ve extended my understanding of God’s heart and will for mission,” she said.
Another transformative aspect of the Asia Gateway Training program was having the time to become more introspective. Prairie began to recognize that her love for God and others, as well as her understanding of God’s Word, were all limited by her own culture, society, church traditions and personal mindset.
“There are so many visible and invisible boundaries to cross to share the love of God. I hope to live and love more broadly and deeply like the example given by Jesus Christ,” she said.
“I want to invest myself more in partnering with God in His mission, particularly sharing with my youth ministry about mission and God’s heart for mission, for the redemption of the whole creation.”
“My hope is that we can start to build up a more holistic ministry to reach out, through the environment, social, charity, etc. activities and especially, interfaith dialogues with people of Buddhism and other faiths in Vietnam,” she added.
Asia Gateway 2018 began on June 4 and we hit the ground running… Here are a few snapshots of the weekend, orientation and Day 1 of classes.
This year, AsiaCMS also welcomed Dr Qaiser Julius as our Co-Mission Partner. Dr Qaiser teaches at the Open Theological Seminary (OTS) in Lahore, Pakistan. He is currently the Director of OTS, provides leadership to the institution along with teaching and preaching roles, and represents OTS on different platforms nationally and internationally.
Dr Qaiser teaches Hermeneutics and New Testament Greek every Fridays to M.Div. and B.Th. students at the Gujranwala Theological Seminary (GTS). This can be challenging as he has to travel around 4 hours to and from GTS on the same day each week.
He also provides assistance at the Langham Expository Preaching program in Pakistan as a volunteer coordinator. This program helps the preachers in Pakistan to expose biblical text with faithfulness, clarity and relevance in their preaching. This quarter he led the Langham Expository Preaching Training Level-1 in Sahiwal.
In the first quarter of 2018, Dr Qaiser spent time training new staff members that were hired in the Youth Department and Communications Desk at the seminary. He also invested a significant amount of time fundraising for OTS, which comes under the direct purview of the Director.
Dr Qaiser received an encouraging testimony this quarter from one of the Pastors that he taught during the Langham Expository Preaching program. The Pastor admitted that prior to this program, he did not spend enough time preparing for his sermons and more often than not, merely recited what he knew instead of preaching. This program taught him the tools he needed to invest more time in preparing for his sermons. In essence, this program sowed the seeds he needed to preach the Word of God more effectively.
Please Pray: for Dr Qaiser’s safe travel as he journeys extensively throughout Pakistan for the ministry of OTS. Pray also for wisdom, clarity and good preparation as he leads sessions in various training programs.
If you’d like to know more about Dr Qaiser’s ministry at OTS and what he does as our Co-Mission Partner, visit his Profile at asiacms.net
God is always at work; He is always changing circumstances that may seem impossible to us and stirring hearts that may face the most challenging situations. Ashish and Karuna, our new Co-Mission Partners, are witnesses to God’s faithful hand in their ministry, as they teach various Diploma, Bachelor and Master theological courses at the Nepal Theological College (NTC), as well as other neighbouring bible colleges.
In the past few months, both Ashish and Karuna have been increasingly heartened to see God using their skills and ministry to mould others. They see a deep hunger to learn God’s Word in every place they teach.
Ashish recently had an encouraging encounter with one of his students, who was determined to complete his M.Div. course, despite the struggles in his family and finances. The student, who has to take care of his ailing father, had no choice but to start learning his father’s profession as a tailor to sustain and provide for the family.
Instead of setting aside his theological studies or taking a break to work and make ends meet for his family, the student chose to pursue both. Each day, he travels over one and half hours to attend his classes at NTC. God has been stirring his heart with a hunger to learn the Word, despite the challenges at home. The student’s enthusiasm is nothing short of inspiring.
Karuna has also been witnessing God move amongst her students. Aside from her teaching engagement at NTC, Karuna also teaches a counselling course at a training centre in Kathmandu and in March this year, she tutored a Diploma in Mental Health (DPHM) course, organised by the Elijah Counselling and Training Center, in Lalitpur and United Mission Hospital Tansen, Nepal. This is a counselling training for pastors, leaders and those involved in hospital ministry.
After the DPHM course she taught, Karuna received positive feedback from her students, who say that they are now able to use the skills they learnt when dealing with people at the hospital daily. In fact, many doctors have begun referring patients to these students for counselling! This in itself is a testament to God’s move, as counselling is rather new and not really embraced by society at large in Nepal. But God is changing circumstances and the field of counselling is slowly beginning to impact the churches and society in this nation.
Please Pray: For the ministry of Nepal Theological College. Plans are underway to start their own Master of Divinity programme beginning in July 2018. Pray that God would bring more people to study His word.
If you’d like to know more about Ashish and Karuna’s ministry at NTC and what they do as our Co-Mission Partners, click on their Profile at: asiacms.net
Kumar & Hoshea
Three years ago, Hoshea Felix began a new journey at the International Global School of Leadership (IGSL) in Manila, Philippines. He was only in his early 20s and the youngest student in his batch. In that same year, the Philippine Campus Crusade for Christ commissioned him as a missionary, which in itself was a testament of God’s call and faithfulness in Hoshea’s life.
Despite his young age, he passionately pursued God’s call for his life and relied on God’s grace every step of the way. During Hoshea’s time at IGSL, Kumar Aryal (Director, Life Mentoring) and Kats Aryal (Faculty, Leadership Studies), both who are AsiaCMS’ Co-Mission Partners, mentored and taught him, respectively.
Kumar and Kats watched Hoshea grow and mature, as he continually sought God to mould him. He once said, “The path to becoming a better servant never ends. God’s affirmation is overwhelming. His call is always sure.”
Throughout his time at IGSL, Hoshea remained steadfast in his pursuit of God and remained dedicated to his call. In the course, God has not only blessed his journey but also led him to his life partner to minister alongside with. Hoshea finished well and received the Great Commission Award for multiplying disciples that reached up to four generations.
Just last month, Hoshea graduated from IGSL and has now been invited together with his wife, Charis to join the faculty team of IGSL. He was also commissioned to become the Lead Pastor of his local church. Truly, when God calls, He enables and equips. In the end, serving and following the Lord is still a work of His grace and for His glory. As Hoshea’s earnest prayer goes, “Lord, let me be the pastor, Bible scholar and missionary that You want me to be. Make me a better servant, like Your Son Jesus Christ.”
If you’d like to know more about Kumar and Kats’ ministry at IGSL and what they do as our Co-Mission Partners, click on their profile at:
The South Asian Christian Youth Network (SACYN) is a network of young leaders from South Asia with a mission to build connections. AsiaCMS partners to inspire, prepare and strengthen young Christian adults to cross bridges to encounter and share their faith and lives with others, across boundaries and borders. Since 2002, SACYN has facilitated various training, conferences and exposure visits to equip its leaders and in October 2017, SACYN organised a Leadership Training and Core Group meeting in Negombo, Sri Lanka. The theme for this 14th SACYN gathering was ‘Tides that We Swim Against: Leadership in Difficult Times’ and it brought together 34 young adult leaders from nine countries within South Asia. These are two voices of SACYN leaders, sharing on the impact of the gathering…
“Bold. Brave. Brilliant” by Wanda Christy
Over my few days attending SACYN 2017, I met a few of the boldest and bravest women. I was very honoured to be friends with women who were a true testimony to what they believe in, not only through their work, such as doing prison ministry and as a mental health awareness activist, but also as role models to youths, especially women.
These women are living examples that age, culture and most importantly, gender are not barriers to doing ministry. As girls in Sri Lanka, we face a lot of sexism and gender-based discrimination, violence and abuse on a daily basis and sadly, in certain parts of the country, these are not addressed and are even completely covered up.
In places where awareness and prevention is preached, it is not practiced and unfortunately when women do speak up, we are either shushed, ignored or laughed at.
Meeting these wonderful women at SACYN, including our female resource people, hearing their stories, seeing how they are the absolute bosses of their lives and how they are sharing the Gospel through their work and lives, are truly inspiring for me as a young woman who is just stepping into the waters.
So, thank you for just being so bold, brave and badass. May God bless you all and your ministry!
“A Reflection on the Exposure Visits” by Prasansa Suba
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I can’t tell for sure if the Sri Lankan government in 1977 had good intentions but it definitely seemed a good initiative when it announced employment opportunities for 100,000 women to address the problem of unemployment that plagued many youths in the country.
Despite making a good step, the government failed to give the best to its citizens, as it failed to take its laborers’ welfare concerning health and safety, and other benefits into consideration. Later, when the laborers stood against this, the government silenced voices of the laborers, subjugated them, treated them inhumanely and made them work for their benefits.
As we look back at the country’s history, we can see the struggle of their laborers, which never made its way to victory. I actually appreciate the Sri Lankan government for coming up with this strategy to tackle the problem of unemployment but had it been more sensitive to its citizens and thought more thoroughly from the perspective of its workers, then its history would not have been tainted by violence and blood.
The exposure visit through this SACYN gathering made me realize the importance of preparation before making a step. Most of the times, we just step hastily and cause unforeseen damages to others, even when our intentions are good. If we follow the simple rule to just STOP and THINK, we can prevent a lot of problems.
Hebrews 11:1-2 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”
Many things start with small acts of faith and love. It was about twenty years ago that I was invited to preach in a remote coastal town on the northern tip of the Island of Borneo. The Sunday morning was routine but after the service, Pastor Simon (not his real name), a young man in his late 20s, casually asked me if I would like to share a short message in a small “house-meeting” that he recently started with a group of Sea Gypsies…