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K.P. Yohannan answers questions about GFA World’s transformations over the years.
Some people have said that GFA World isn’t the same organization that it once was. How would you respond to that?
Do you remember when you were 1 year old? What about when you were 5 years old or even 10 years old? Did you have one arm or four legs? What about a nose? Did you have three ears and one fell off? Were you human or did people call you a camel or a snake?
At 1, 5 and 10 years old you were a complete human being. You never evolved into another species, did you? No. As you aged, you grew in knowledge and intelligence. You matured.
GFA World began as an evangelistic movement. You can read about this in my book Revolution in World Missions. We went to the most unreached places in Asia and shared Jesus with others. As tens of thousands responded to the preaching of the Gospel and came to know the Lord, we realized if we truly understood the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20), then we wouldn’t just preach the Gospel or do missions works; our end goal would be to plant churches.
We see this throughout God’s Word, especially in the book of Acts, which tells us what the Apostles did in obedience to Christ’s command and how that resulted in establishing churches. We see also how the book of Romans through Revelation is all about the Church. Did you know the New Testament, as we have it, would not exist if it were not for the Church? It was in A.D. 385 that the Church gave us the New Testament. Church didn’t come from the Bible, but the Bible came from the Church.
When we came to understand the goal of the Great Commission, we agonized over the question: “What does it mean to be the Church not just a church?”
Trying to answer this question has led to deeper and deeper transformations over the years. We have not changed in the sense that we suddenly evolved into a different type of organization. Over the years, we’ve grown in understanding of God’s Holy Church and of the historical, ancient faith and practices that were passed down from the Lord’s Apostles to the early churches, but our calling as a ministry has always been and will always be to share Christ’s love with people who have never heard. That will never change.
Has ministry on the field changed?
For many years now, I’ve been telling our staff serving around the world that the book of Acts is our plumbline; it is our blueprint for ministry. We are radical for evangelism, and we seek to follow the patterns laid out to us by the Apostles, whose hearts were gripped by a sense of urgency to tell the world about Jesus Christ. Wherever they went, they proclaimed the Lord’s salvation—and they turned the world upside down.
We seek to continue their ministry. Our missionaries on the field are radical to share Jesus and His love with others. They are willing to give up everything if that means more people can have their eyes opened to the truth of Jesus Christ. Every day on the field, the book of Acts comes alive.
Our missionaries know that the cost of following Christ will mean persecution that may cost them their very lives, but they make this commitment willingly because the time is too short, and the most important thing to invest our lives in is fulfilling our Lord’s last command: to go out and make disciples of all nations.
Why did the ministry’s name change from Gospel for Asia to GFA World?
Besides the word “gospel” being a highly sensitive word on the mission field, we realized our ministry is part of a global community, and the Lord may lead us to serve Him in other countries outside of Asia, as He already has.
We have friends of the ministry all over the world, who give, pray and sacrifice their time and resources so people can hear about Jesus. We have supporting offices in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and South Korea with faithful brothers and sisters who do much to support the work on the field.
And our hearts are not only for the people of Asia. We need to understand that this world is dying in the lap of the evil one, and our job is to rescue the more than 2 billion people who don’t know Jesus—not just in Asia but wherever the Lord leads us. Already God has given us an open door to do ministry in Africa! The Lord graciously connected us with the Anglican Church of Rwanda, and because of that, we’ve been able to expand our ministry to include the people there. We are beyond amazed at this answer to prayer to help so many people, especially children, who have suffered so much over the years.
Did I foresee this when I first began GFA World? Not at all. But through God’s divine leading, we now get to be part of a greater work. Our leaders on the field pray we will be able to do ministry in other countries, such as Indonesia or North Korea. We pray for these things and wait for the Lord’s open door.
What do you think the future of GFA World looks like?
There is still so much to be done in terms of fulfilling the Great Commission. We pray the Lord will help us to reach more people before it’s too late and to establish thriving worshiping communities that live for Jesus alone.
As our work begins in Rwanda, Africa, we will be training and sending out missionaries. We will be opening a hospital, and already our child sponsorship program is underway, providing much-needed aid to children and their communities. We’ve also done COVID-19 relief work there, distributing food to people. In the years to come, we pray the Lord will open doors into neighboring countries, as He did in Asia.
On our campus in Wills Point, Texas, I dream of GFA World being like the wardrobe in the book series The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, a place where people can come to experience spiritual renewal through the ancient paths.
I see hundreds of young people impacted to serve the Lord through their gifts and talents. I see 500,000 children in Asia and Africa given hope for a better future through our child sponsorship program. I see hundreds of thousands of people worshiping our Lord Jesus through the faithful ministry of our workers on the field.
I believe and trust that the best is yet to come for GFA World.
AFRICA – In March, GFA World expanded ministry into Africa, beginning in the nation of Rwanda. Missionaries are already helping dozens of children and their families in the slum of Kigali through GFA World’s Child Sponsorship program, with plans to launch efforts in multiple African nations over the coming years.
Many African people groups have critical needs, including access to clean water, health care and education, and GFA workers plan to respond to these needs with compassionate, practical aid. For initial efforts, GFA World is partnering with the Rwandan government as well as church leaders and their congregations.
“God has been calling me—and the leaders of GFA World—to expand our ministry into Africa,” said the ministry’s founder, K.P. Yohannan. “In preparation, we've been praying, studying, working and sending leaders there for over a year.”
Rwanda is still recovering from the war and genocide of the 1990s. Through community development programs, such as clean water, education and health care, GFA missionaries plan to help provide a stable environment for the children and families in this once-volatile region.
The vision for this new work is the same one GFA started with: to meet tangible needs of precious people and show God’s love to those who need it most. Through these efforts, GFA missionaries hope to help the poor break the cycle of poverty and to show God’s love.
“We aim to be servants to everyone, showing them Christ through our lifestyle,” said Yohannan. “Jesus told His disciples to change the world, and as we expand into Africa, that’s our calling, too.”
Learn more about our ministry in Africa »
ASIA – In honour of International Widows’ Day, a team led by GFA worker Nachum joined other groups worldwide to celebrate widows and show them loving care. Conducting a food distribution program specifically for widows in their community, the GFA team sought to share God’s love and to comfort these women in need.
“The Bible teaches us to care for the widows,” Nachum said. “Our church always tries to help the people in need, and it is our prayer that as you receive this ration kit, may you experience God’s peace, grace and His blessings in your life.”
The widows—who received rice, beans, oil and salt—were extremely grateful for the timely help.
Widows in Asia, and elsewhere, are frequently rejected by their own families. But on this occasion, these widows experienced the love and care of others.
“You remembered us and provided us the ration kits,” said Maila, a recipient. “I am so happy and feel that you are our own.”
The UN’s International Widows’ Day highlights the unique plight of widows worldwide in an effort to garner support and change. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, tens of thousands of women have joined the dreaded ranks of widowhood.1 Widows in parts of Asia and Africa often bear a stigma that isolates them, and they suffer discrimination that hinders them from supporting themselves and their children.
1 “International Widows’ Day.” United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/widows-day. Accessed July 16, 2021.
ASIA – More than a year into the pandemic, many men, women and children continue to experience intensified hardships in areas where GFA missionaries serve. GFA pastor Taddeo saw many families struggling to provide even a one-time meal for their children—a situation that troubled him.
Seeing the great need to help people in his community, Pastor Taddeo immediately purchased supplies and gathered some believers. Together, they prepared food and delivered it to families in need, encouraging them from God’s Word.
“God is always watching over the needy and poor,” the believers told them.
Odella and her husband are daily wage labourers, but they lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Her husband has managed to get some work but has earned very little.
“We were struggling to feed a one-time [meal] to our children,” Odella said. “We as a family are thankful to the church leaders for reaching out to us in this crucial time. We were really in need of rations.”
Pastor Taddeo’s team also visited the local hospital, showing Christ’s love to patients by providing fresh meals. The team assured the patients of the church’s care and support in their time of need.
Jaisen, a 69-year-old with coronavirus symptoms, had been admitted the previous week.
“My family members are afraid to come and see me,” Jaisen said. “I was longing for home-cooked food, and the pastor came to me with food at the right time. I am truly grateful.”
GFA workers have also distributed vegetables, hygiene kits and other relief items, caring for people’s practical needs and offering hope in a time of crisis.
Learn more about GFA World’s COVID-19 relief efforts here »
USA – GFA World began hosting Kyrie Experience events in October. These three-day events welcome young adults, ages 17–30, to the GFA World headquarters near Dallas, TX, for a chance to find spiritual renewal and valuable strategies to resist cultural attacks on their faith.
Christians today face a pervasive threat of being inundated with distractions, distractions that keep them from focusing on the Lord and entering into His presence. The events, scheduled for October and November of 2021 and January and February of 2022, provide space for attendees to step away from the busyness of life and seek the Lord through prayer, worship, fellowship and Scripture-led meditation. Rather than a weekend of preaching, attendees are provided structured time to encounter God. By resting in God’s presence and focusing on Him, these young men and women will be able to discover how to hear the Lord’s voice.
“We want to see young people learn to slow down and be still before the Lord,” says Mike Johnson, Community Relations Coordinator and co-leader of the Kyrie Experience events.
“When someone can do this, they can achieve anything in life!”
Visit gfa.org/experience to learn more or to register to attend a Kyrie Experience event.
For 16-year-old Delfine, confusion and delusion had dominated her mind for the past eight days. Haunted by an evil spirit, the young woman could not control her own body. She could not sleep; she could not eat. What prayers and entreaties her family took to their deities brought no salvation for Delfine—death seemed inevitable for this otherwise healthy young woman.
A Sudden Crisis
The fifth of seven children, Delfine left school after completing 10th grade so she could help her widowed mother work on their small plot of land. The crops they grew would help her two younger brothers complete their education and provide for the family’s basic necessities.
Then one day, a malignant spirit took control of the teenager’s body, leaving her helpless. Off and on, for two months, the spirit harassed Delfine; some attacks lasted days. Left adrift in her own body, Delfine was nearly oblivious to all around her.
Through a concerned neighbor’s request, local GFA pastor Keagan visited Delfine’s home. After an entire day of fasting and prayer, the young woman was freed from the malevolent spirit! She realized her deliverance was truly a miracle. The power of Jesus had freed her from evil’s clutches, and she became overwhelmed by His love. It was the beginning of a new, changed life.
After her deliverance Delfine and her mother made the two-hour journey from their home to Pastor Keagan’s church every Sunday. Delfine grew in her faith and loved Jesus above all.
Determined for Something Greater
Seeing her energy and desire for God, a GFA leader recommended Delfine enroll in a ministry training school, where she could stoke the passion that burned in her heart. Some of Delfine’s uncles, despite her miraculous deliverance from the evil spirit, disapproved and attempted to prevent her from going. But Delfine stood fast. Her relatives even claimed she had been kidnapped, but Delfine’s mother told the police the truth: Her daughter left for the college with her blessing—and that was final.
While in one of our ministry training schools, Delfine learned about GFA’s Sisters of Compassion and enrolled in the program. She spent six months in training, receiving instruction on how to care for leprosy patients, counsel families, educate others about hygiene, and organize other community-driven ministries. Upon completing her training, Delfine became the very first Sister of Compassion from her state. She was sent with two other Sisters of Compassion to a local slum, where they started a small ministry, bringing light and hope where darkness once held sway.
Sisters of Compassion
Sisters of Compassion are specially trained women missionaries who uniquely serve communities and people in need. They receive basic medical training and learn practical skills in areas such as teaching and counseling. With great commitment, these missionaries go to the most desperate places to serve downtrodden people and offer hope to broken souls.
Sent in pairs or groups, Sisters of Compassion love and care for widows, who are often rejected by their own families; leprosy patients, who are typically shunned by society and live in colonies apart from the rest of the world; slum residents, who live in impoverished and unsafe conditions; and many others who generally don’t have anyone else to care for them.
They teach basic hygiene—in some cases even demonstrating how to properly clean toilets. They teach adult women how to read to help them overcome obstacles—and shame—that would otherwise hinder their everyday lives. They clean slums and bandage the wounds of leprosy patients.
In addition to performing humble tasks that communicate love, Sisters of Compassion offer counseling and prayer in times of crisis, bringing peace and healing. These women missionaries show God’s love practically by fulfilling people’s needs, and lives are transformed.
Click here to learn more and watch a video about how Sisters of Compassion are blessing communities.
We are grateful to these generous friends who have given to GFA World in memory or in honour of loved ones.
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.
You can strategically plan your legacy to bless many people in Asia and Africa, 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:
Here are some ways to learn more about these legacy building tools:
As Saffi, not even 10 years old, stepped into the carpet factory, it seemed it was the beginning of the end for the girl’s dreams. The odds had already been stacked against her. Saffi’s family came from an impoverished people group in which individuals rarely became literate or gained access to higher education. Then Saffi’s father abandoned the family, leaving her mother, Addia, to care for three children alone. This stacked the odds even higher against Saffi and her siblings’ future. Would they get the chance to finish school, go to college and achieve their career aspirations?
Hoping to provide well enough for her children to have a decent future, Addia moved the family to a large city and found a job in a carpet factory. The children went to school, but Addia struggled to meet their needs on her meager income. When faced with the chances of her children starving or one child losing the chance for an education, Addia made the difficult choice that many impoverished parents are forced to make.
“I took Saffi with me to work in the carpet factory [to] help me financially,” Addia explains, “as several times, things were not going so perfectly in our life.”
Grasping a Second Chance
Then, one day, a co-worker gave Addia exciting news. This co-worker, who attended a local church led by a GFA pastor, told Addia about GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program.
Addia spoke with the program staff, explaining the family’s hardships. They gladly enrolled Saffi and her younger brother in the program. Because the program would serve nutritious meals and provide needed school supplies and tutoring, it would remove financial burdens from Addia—and Saffi could go back to school!
Through the child sponsorship program, God revived Saffi’s chances for education and a bright future. She not only returned to school, but she also began to excel through the support and nurture of the child sponsorship staff. In fact, Saffi began getting the highest grades in her class each year.
Without the gift of the child sponsorship program, Saffi likely would have remained trapped in child labour. She grabbed hold of her chance to excel in school, and now she may be able to attend higher education and acquire a good job one day.
Addia can see her children’s futures looking brighter.
“I was unable to make my children’s needs available with my daily wage,” Addia says. “I am thankful to [the child sponsorship program] for helping me and my children.”
Think About It
GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program helped Saffi avoid spending the rest of her childhood as a labourer. However, child labour still ensnares almost 1 in 10 children—more than 150 million—around the world. Learn more about child labour and how we are helping rescue children from that fate here »
Here are a few ways you can pray for this situation:
Pray for children trapped in exploitation.
Ask God to intervene on behalf of the millions who are trapped in child labour. Pray GFA World and other nonprofit groups, as well as governments, will find these children and ensure they receive an education.
Pray for wisdom and favor for GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program.
Ask the Lord to open doors for GFA workers to bring the child sponsorship program to more communities and prevent more children from losing their education to child labour. Pray He will open the doors for cooperation between program staff and community leaders to identify and implement the ways to most effectively keep kids in school.
Pray for more sponsors.
It’s generous sponsors who help make possible GFA World’s Child Sponsorship Program. Each sponsor can deeply impact a child’s life through their prayers and their letters to their sponsored child. Ask God to raise up more men and women to become sponsors so we can serve more children in Jesus’ name.
Click here to learn more about the Child Sponsorship Program.
As human beings, we are creatures bound by time, space and matter. It’s as if we’re wearing glasses, and we see and interpret everything we encounter through these lenses. That includes our personal life, health, well-being, happiness, struggles, persecution and all our theologies.
Unless we take time before God to pray and ask Him to help us think His thoughts in the light of His Word, we will not understand or take into account that there is an invisible world that operates parallel to what we are dealing with. C.S. Lewis gives us a glimpse of how this looks in his book The Screwtape Letters when he describes how a junior demon is instructed by a senior one how to intercept and destroy God’s work in people’s hearts.
When Scripture says “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19), it means much of what is around us—billboards, movies, education, monetary systems, politics and trends—are influenced, designed, energized or largely controlled by powerful demonic forces whose goal is to bring about an anti-God society and world.
Let’s look at the life of King David to better understand this reality. King David was a man who was hand-picked by God. His destiny and what he was going to be were not just determined by David’s actions; they were determined way back in eternity. God had to work through the failures of Abraham, his descendants and David to make sure His will was finally fulfilled.
Likewise, the devil works on a parallel level to sabotage God’s plans. He put the thought into David’s mind to number the armies of Israel (see 2 Samuel 24). David, not realizing what was going on in the unseen world, took hold of the thought and ordered Joab, his commander, to count the troops.
Joab was alarmed by David’s request and begged him not to do it. But David didn’t listen.
On the surface, nothing looked wrong with the king’s command. After all, it was a normal practice of kings to count their soldiers, weapons and resources—except in the case of Israel. The king of Israel was not the supreme ruler over God’s people; it was God Himself. The king was to rule under God’s direction and by His law. He was supposed to seek God’s will before he made decisions or went to war.
David was diligent to follow these instructions, except that time. Perhaps the devil detected a few moments of pride, independence or self-reliance in David and took advantage of them.
The result of counting the fighting forces of Israel without God’s permission was disastrous and costly. Yet God didn’t forsake David in his failure. In His mercy, God accepted David’s repentance and continued to fulfill His will that He had purposed from eternity past for David’s life.
We are mistaken when we think that the physical realm, which includes the vast universe God spoke into existence, and the spiritual realm are two different worlds. Perhaps we perceive it that way because one is visible to our eyes and the other one is invisible. In addition, the physical realm is bound by time, space and matter and the spiritual one is not. But we have to look at both realms in light of their interaction and response to each other to understand they are part of the same world, while functioning on two different levels.
Just as in David’s case, everything we deal with in the physical realm triggers a response from the spiritual realm, either in support or in opposition to God’s eternal will. As human beings, most of the time we are unaware of the angelic or demonic activities that influence our lives, culture and society toward God or against Him. We may sometimes sense like Joab, David’s commander, that something unseen is going on that feels wrong, yet we have no proof until the end result.
There are special times, however, when God allows us to have a glimpse into the activities of the spiritual realm, such as when an angel appeared to the prophet Daniel and explained to him why the answer to his prayers was delayed (see Daniel 10). It was due to the battle the angel encountered with opposing demonic rulers who tried to prevent him from passing through their territory.
The greatest of all interactions of the invisible God with the physical world He created was when He sent Jesus, His only Son, to save us. Jesus entered our visible realm by being born as a human being, so He could live our life and then lay it down on the cross for our sin. The Bible calls it a mystery and describes it with these words:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” —Philippians 2:5-8
My dear friend, do you take time to sit quietly before God and think deeply about this, asking Him to reveal His Word and thoughts to you?
It’s something the ancient church fathers practiced and found to be a great source of strength and depth in their walk with God. I needed to cultivate the same in my own life. May I encourage you to learn this important practice? It will lead you to a deeper relationship with the Lord and help you to better understand the spiritual realm.
Read more of K.P.'s thoughts on his blog at kpyohannan.org
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