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Archive for June, 2013

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Many people would agree with Frank Sinatra who confessed in his “My Way” signature song, “Regrets, I’ve had a few . . . ”

If we were honest, all of us would admit to having regrets. Even the Apostle Paul had some, for he testified:

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Phil. 3:13-14, NLT)

Regrets were part of Paul’s reason to forget the past. He regretted:

• His self-righteous efforts to try to earn God’s approval by being the best and the most law-abiding Jew (Phil. 3:4-6)

• His role as an official witness at the killing of Stephen during which he held the coats of men as they stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:57, 58)

• His rabid persecution of Christians (Phil. 3:6; Acts 9:1-9)

But once he received the forgiveness and the life-transforming grace and presence of Jesus Christ, he willingly left behind everything—the regrets, the guilt, the self-righteous achievements and traditions—in order to experience:

• “The priceless gain of knowing Christ” (Phil. 3: 8)

• “The mighty power that raised him from the dead” (Phil. 3:10)

• God’s heavenly prize—becoming one with Christ (Phil. 3:9,14)

We, too, must be willing to forget the past and leave behind our regrets, guilt, and failures that haunt and impede us. As a forgiven people, we are encouraged to strip off every encumbrance that slows us down and trips us up—even pride in our accomplishments—and run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Heb. 12:1b)

Our goal in running and finishing the race is to be all that Christ Jesus saved us for and wants us to be. (Phil. 3:12)

So while others like Frank Sinatra face their final curtain by proudly or defiantly proclaiming, “I did it my way,” those of us who follow Christ will joyfully say, “I did it Christ’s way.”

*****

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Sometimes our minds go numb or blank when faced with staggering statistics. For example, according to UNICEF, there are over 150 million destitute and exploited children in South Asia, some as young as four years old, who are forced to work in the most deplorable and inhuman conditions.

Does that information concern or affect you?

Probably not, especially if you live in relative comfort and safety and have no personal reference to India or other South Asian countries through which to filter that information.

Imagine, then, that you’re so poor and destitute that you’re forced to hand over—or sell into slavery—your young son or daughter to beg, labor in a hazardous sweat shop, factory, pickpocket ring, or to be used and abused by sex traffickers.

Still can’t imagine that scenario?

Then let’s journey to Calcutta through the eyes and camera lens of Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman who spent over two years there making the Oscar-winning documentary about children living in the slum brothels of that city.

Get to know eight of these children through the love and compassion of Zana, a British photographer and filmmaker who taught them the art of photography and tried to inspire in them hope for a better future beyond the brothels.

Capture their excitement as they learn to use their cameras to see beyond the grime and poverty of their environment and to experience the joy at seeing their photographs displayed in galleries in New York and Amsterdam.

But agonize with them as you see the forces of evil that would try to keep them from getting out of the slums and the brothels, even forces such as their own mothers who want the girls to join them in prostitution.

I encourage you to take the time to watch this documentary, Born into Brothels, (rated R) and meet these boys and girls—Kochi, Shanti, Avijit, Suchitra, Manik, Gour, Puja, and Tapasi.

*****

If you watched the stories of these eight children to the end, I hope that you are moved enough to want to do something about the plight of children like them. While we cannot make an impact on the 150 million children in crisis as a whole, we can begin to change individual lives—one at a time.

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to GFA Bridge of Hope, the children’s outreach ministry of Gospel for Asia International. This ministry is improving the lives of South Asia’s poorest children through education, physical assistance, and the Good News of Jesus.

Gospel for Asia International has been able to rescue over 60,000 children from a life of bondage and enroll them in more than 480 GFA Bridge of Hope Centers throughout South Asia. Their goal is to minister to at least 500,000 children within a few short years.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Log on to the GFA Bridge of Hope website at http://nolongeraslumdog.org, and learn how this ministry is transforming the lives of children, their families, and their communities. View the various video clips that tell the stories of some of the children, and while you are on the website, order your free copy of No Longer a Slumdog: Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis, the book that features incredible stories of children who are finding new lives and transformation through the ministry of GFA Bridge of Hope.Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 10.47.43 AM

You can also log on to the Gospel for Asia website at http://www.gfa.org and get a more comprehensive view and scope of this multifaceted ministry. Explore the pages, links, photos, and videos, and get to know K.P. Yohannan, the founder of the ministry, and the amazing work that he and thousands of his national missionaries are doing throughout South Asia.

2. As you view these two websites, please pray and consider whether God is leading you to support this ministry among the children of South Asia.

Help by sponsoring a child:

You can sponsor a child by giving $35 a month for that child to attend a Bridge of Hope Center where he or she will get everything needed for a better future—education, school supplies, a daily meal, medical checkups, and Christian nurturing. 100% of your sponsorship is sent to the field to support the child that you choose.

I hope that you will join me in supporting through our sponsorship this dynamic ministry of Gospel for Asia, especially GFA Bridge of Hope and its redeeming work with children in crisis.

Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me . . . Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.“ –Jesus, Matthew 18:5; 19:14

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