Even While We’re Sleeping
Bishop Danny Yohannan talks about discovering God at work in our lives and in those around us, even when we cannot see Him.
Sometimes when we find ourselves struggling or fighting long, drawn-out personal battles, it’s difficult to have hope. How do we know God is still there with us?
Let me tell you a story. The other day, it was raining outside, so my family and I decided to go to In-N-Out for dinner. On rainy days they always give the kids who are there free hot chocolate.
A lot of times in the Christian life, we can tend to have unrealistic expectations. We may think to ourselves, “As long as I read my Bible, everything is going to be okay.” Other times we become discouraged when certain ideas or Christian “catch phrases”—things that sound nice but are not actually biblical—don’t turn out the way we expect them to in our own lives. We find out the hard way that’s not really how it works!
Life is full of trials and struggles. In those times, it can be tempting to ask, “What am I supposed to do? I read the Bible and prayed, but it didn’t work. Nothing is helping.”
It’s not that reading your Bible and praying doesn’t work. It’s that God is working beyond what we can see right in front of us. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis says Satan’s plan “is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do [the Lord’s] will, looks ‘round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
It is as we walk out our faith through our spiritual disciplines, regardless of our emotions in the moment, that we will learn to see God at work.
I feel like I am being faithful to keep doing the things I know I should do to stay close to Jesus, but I still don’t see a difference in my life. What else can I do?
We don’t always realize it, but in the same way that our body’s immune system rebuilds itself when we sleep, God also works in our life when we are not paying attention. When we fail, we may get super discouraged and throw up our hands to the Lord, saying, “God, I don’t know what to do.” Then two or three months down the road, we find ourselves experiencing a similar situation and realize that we responded differently—we responded correctly. We say, “How did that happen?”
God is always at work in every part of our lives—not only when we’re feeling full of faith and hope. He is at work both while we fast and pray as well as when we perform normal, everyday tasks at work or around the house. He is at work when we are discouraged and when we step outside at night, look at the stars in awe and say, “Wow, praise God for that!” As we awake, intentionally commit our day to Him and ask again for His grace as we go to sleep, He is continuously at work in us, not limited by our personal devotion time or by Sunday mornings. That is the Christian life: trusting God at all times, no matter how good or bad things are.
Think about it: At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul—one of the greatest people in the history of the Church—said he was the chief of sinners and worried he might lose it all. But even so, Paul had confidence in the incredible mercy of God.
Some things we can practically do to stay close to Jesus is say the Lord’s Prayer every day to focus our hearts on the sovereignty of God, and say the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”) whenever your heart and mind get distracted. You may not notice it immediately, but by incorporating these small habits into your life, you’re renewing and transforming your thoughts and actions to be oriented on Christ.
How can we be an extension of Christ to the people around us whom God has placed in our lives, especially to those who are struggling and discouraged?
The early Church fathers told us that when we are with other people who are failing and struggling, we also should be like Christ, carrying one another’s burdens. We are supposed to pray for one another; we are supposed to have faith for one another. When a person has no faith, we can have faith for them. In Luke chapter 5, you read about a group of men who lowered a lame man down through the roof of a house. When Jesus saw the faith of the lame man’s friends, He told the man, “Your sins are forgiven.” It isn’t even the lame man’s faith that is mentioned! It says, “When He saw their faith.” A few verses later, you read that He healed the man also.
When you see others failing or struggling, don’t just write them off or say in your heart, “I’ve already told them 400 times.” Remember, God has already told us 5,000 times, too. Instead, pray for them, fast for them, encourage them—stick with them. Each of us will fail and try again and again throughout our lifetime. And still He—the Shepherd—runs after us and brings us back because He loves us. He says, “Let me help you.”
The mid-sixteenth century martyr John Bradford is remembered for looking upon a group of condemned prisoners and wisely observing, “There but for the grace of God go I.” His statement was based on the Apostle Paul’s comment in 1 Corinthians 15:8–10.
When we walk in humility with others—when we pray for them, embrace them, trust God for them and encourage them to not give up—that is just a little bit of what it means to love one another. If God doesn’t give up on us, let us ask Him to help us not to lose heart and give up on others, or even on ourselves.
He is continuously at work in us, not limited by our personal devotion time or by Sunday mornings. That is the Christian life: trusting God at all times, no matter how good or bad things are.
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News from the Mission Field
GFA Workers Minister in Midst of Pandemic
Throughout the early months of 2020, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 soared without a plateau or decline in sight. It brought nations of the world to a standstill as leaders did their best to halt the spread of this mysterious virus and save their citizens from becoming part of the statistics.
Many GFA workers faced nationwide, months-long shelter-in-place orders, which severely disrupted everyday life. Although these orders were issued to curb infection and save lives, millions of men, women and children who depend upon daily work were left on the brink of starvation.
In the midst of such an unprecedented crisis, GFA workers found ways to minister and share Christ’s love with people who were in desperate need of help, perhaps more than ever before.
Feeding Thousands of People
In the first few weeks of the pandemic, GFA workers provided essential items, such as groceries, face masks and soap, to more than 6,000 people scattered throughout Asia. Many of the recipients were day laborers, widows, leprosy patients, migrant workers and beggars left without any means to provide for themselves or their families.
“We did not have anything to eat during this lockdown situation,” said one recipient of a month’s supply of groceries. “God sent you at the right time to us.”
With the permission and help of local authorities, GFA workers used Bridge of Hope centers to organize “soup kitchens.” Hundreds of people stood in line, six feet apart, waiting to receive a much-needed meal—and a bit of extra food to take home to their families.
One GFA pastor, Dai, distributed grocery items to 150 people living in a slum.
“I am glad that God gave me the opportunity to come to the rescue of so many people in my neighborhood who were in desperate need of help because they have lost every source of income to sustain their families,” Pastor Dai said.
To learn more about how GFA workers have helped people in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Click Here »
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Clean Hands Save Lives
GFA workers participated in what could have been one of the more important world days to celebrate last year: Global Handwashing Day.
With a pandemic in full swing, GFA workers organized events to raise awareness of the importance of having clean hands, which is one of the most effective ways to combat illnesses, especially coronaviruses.
GFA workers set up roadside wash stations to encourage passersby to keep clean. They gathered community members to share how COVID-19’s impact can be diminished if people wash their hands regularly with soap and water. They demonstrated proper handwashing techniques and distributed free soap to individuals and schools.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, educating communities about handwashing can “reduce respiratory illnesses … in the general population by about 16–21 percent.”
By organizing such events, GFA workers are helping communities stay healthy and decreasing the risk of spreading illnesses in an ongoing health crisis.
“All these days I did not care or give any importance about washing my hands,” said one elder of a village where GFA workers organized an awareness event. “But presently, due to this coronavirus, we can feel how important it is to wash our hands to protect ourselves from the spread of such a deadly disease. Therefore, I want to extend my thanks to the pastor and believers of the church for arranging such a wonderful program.”
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Quick COVID-19 News from the Field
- India began 2021 with a goal to vaccinate around 300 million people by August. Fifteen days after the initial roll-out on Jan. 16, more than 3 million people had received the first dose of a vaccine, dubbing the venture the largest vaccination drive in the world.
- Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives received shipments of hundreds of thousands of free vaccines from India under its “Neighbourhood First” policy in January.
Read more about ministry during COVID-19 »
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We Remember and Honour
We are grateful to these generous friends who have given to GFA World in memory or in honour of loved ones.
In Memory Of
- Bob Felder from Scott and Kris Davis, Barbara Luttrell, Sue Jantz, Mrs. Barbara Johnson
- Celia McLean from Martin and Gail McLean
- Gordon Bateman from Penny Bateman
- John Ernest Homer from Kiwanis Club of Lees Summit
- Mary Lou Michnovicz from Jeff and Paula Christofferson
In Honour Of
- Glenn Butler from Mrs. Shery Butler
- Ken Fefete from Jacqueline M. Azar
- Melinda and Pascal Jamey from Lois K. Lingren
- Michael from Villa Maria Convent
- Tony, Kelly, Ben and Jake Barraclough from Jennifer Locklin
This list is a partial representation of many generous friends who have given to GFA in memory or in honour of loved ones. To view the complete list Click Here. If you wish to make a donation in honour or in memory of someone, please contact the GFA office in your country.
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Building a Legacy of Giving for the Kingdom
As a believer, strategically planning your legacy will bless many people in Asia, as well as your loved ones, as you prepare to step into eternity.
Legacy-building tools, such as beneficiary designations, wills, trusts and charitable gift annuities, can help:
- Provide for your loved ones.
- Protect your assets.
- Reduce taxes for you and your loved ones.
- Generate lifetime income.
- Share the love of Jesus in Asia.
To learn more about these legacy-building tools, email [email protected], Click Here or call us at 1-800-946-2742.
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“What can I give to minister to millions in Asia? I’ll give God me.”
You can touch the lives of millions by serving in a GFA office within your own country, linking national workers in Asia with believers around the world.
GFA staff members serve behind the scenes:
- Enabling thousands in the Body of Christ to pray for and support the work in Asia.
- Raising awareness of the needs and opportunities on the mission field.
- Telling of God’s glorious deeds among the nations.
- Helping prepare Christ’s Bride—His Church—to be with Him for eternity.
To explore the possibility of joining staff, email or call GFA’s office in your country.
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Five Minutes with K.P.: We Need Tracks to Stay on Course
We are living in a post-Christian era country. If you have any doubts, look at the solid biblical principles and values our nation was founded on—and people used to honor and live by—and where we are right now. During the second half of the 19th century, our culture began to change drastically as many of our biblical values were replaced by secular wisdom and whatever felt good. As a result, we are now experiencing a flood of ungodliness, celebration of perversion, rejection of Judeo-Christian values and hostility against Christians.
This change of foundational beliefs and their external forces have taken over the lives of individuals and families in our nation and churches. In the process, we lost shared religious convictions and traditions that were once part of our cultural heritage and that bound us together as a people.
Mary Eberstadt wrote in her book How the West Really Lost God that religion is important to both family and community.
“All it takes” she said, “is the failure of a single generation to hand down a tradition for that tradition to disappear in the life of a family and the life of a community.”
I was shocked when a senior Christian leader of a big church in England told me that he believes that should it come to a severe confrontation between the post-Christian culture and the Church, most Christians will give up or compromise.
I thank God we still have many churches, pastors and sincere believers in our nation that will resist being swept away by the present culture and will stand up for the truth.
However, it is not enough that we ourselves make it somehow safely through the stormy waters.
We are given by God the responsibility to pass on our faith to the next generation, that is our children and all those who newly come to Christ. They will have to live in an increasingly ungodly and hostile culture that no longer respects biblical values. For them, to learn how to live for Christ and how to practice their faith takes more than hearing a sermon and seeing other believers for two hours at church every week. They will need to have the opportunity to observe, experience and participate in real Christian community life.
We live in a society where individualism is the norm, and we are conditioned to think and act independently, even as Christians. Yet the Bible talks about the Church being a living body where each believer is a vital member, depending on each other for strength, supply and survival. This is not meant as an abstract theological concept, but as a practical truth for us to live out on a local and worldwide level. Such a body or community life is especially important in a hostile environment in order to preserve and pass on the Christian faith, values and traditions.
Have you ever asked yourself how the Jewish people managed to survive for more than 2,000 years as a nation without a country and being scattered all over the world? Amazingly, they kept their identity, faith and traditions alive through wars, exile, horrendous persecutions, near annihilation and the Holocaust.
Besides a miracle from God, the thing that enabled them to survive as a people was their Jewish community life. According to their Sabbath laws, Jewish families were required to live within walking distance of their synagogue. This put them in proximity of their worship place and each other, cultivating community. It allowed them to study God’s Word and practice their 3,500-year-old faith and traditions together, thus passing them on to their children. Those among them whose lives revolved around their synagogue, prayer times and each other were able to maintain the most distance from the destructive influences of the culture surrounding them. They also saw themselves as part of the larger Jewish community around the world. We would do well to learn from their example.
Faith in itself is invisible and abstract, yet it influences our will, mind and emotions. It has to be maintained through the biblical culture that goes along with it, otherwise we have a difficult time holding on to it. This culture is the track for the train to run on.
God’s Word combined with biblical culture will keep us in the direction we must go and protect us from losing our way in a confusing and turbulent world.
The early church fathers understood the importance of biblical culture and put scriptural practices and New Testament traditions in place within the church to serve as tracks for the faith. Unfortunately, over the centuries, we have allowed much of it to fall by the wayside.
We must re-establish those tracks and provide deep-rooted biblical culture in our families and churches. Only then can we confidently hand over the torch of the Christian faith and the Great Commission to the next generation of believers. Only then will they be able to stay the course till Jesus comes.
Read more of K.P.'s thoughts on his blog at kpyohannan.org
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