Today I got to visit a Bridge of Hope center in a slum. I walked into a room full of kids nicely studying. That ended pretty quickly when I got my camera out. I was swarmed and surrounded. Laughing off language barriers, we became friends quickly.
Despite their background of poverty and slum life, the children are now receiving education, medical attention, nutritious food and school supplies through Bridge of Hope. They learn a new English word every day at the Bridge of Hope center. And soon they started practicing the language on me.
One of their phrases was “What is your favorite…?” We discussed favorite colors, countries, cricketers and more. When they found out I was from America, they started telling me excitedly, “My sponsor’s in America. His name is so and so,” or “My sponsor’s from Canada and her name is such and such.”
I was reminded of just how meaningful it is to sponsor a child like this. These kids are experiencing the love of Christ because of people halfway across the world. The children have never met their sponsors, but they know their names. They correspond. They connect.
What a beautiful relationship.
Since being placed in the web department in January, I have had the privilege to work on some exciting video projects. Some of these have been connected with the French work here at the Gospel For Asia Canadian office, including a recently finished version of the “Power of the Meek” DVD. This, along with a finished French translation of K.P. Yohannan’s “No Longer a Slumdog”, and a nearly completed French Bridge of Hope Sponsorship website, have all been great reasons to celebrate. So we as a web team decided to do just that. Complete with the appropriate attire and cuisine, we hosted our very own “French day” in honour of all of this finished work!
What did you learn on the vision tour?
Visiting South Asia really opened my eyes to what it means to live a life committed to Christ. Without realizing it, I had been like Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, claiming to give my life to God, but all the while holding back a portion for my control, to do with it what I wanted to do. Talking to our brothers and sisters on the field opened my eyes to see that Jesus called us to give Him our ALL. The cool thing is He gives us back so much more than our all—He gives us Himself. There is SO much joy in following Jesus. I want Him to have ALL of me. – Anna
What impacted you?
The people are beautiful. In the beginning of our trip, I was overwhelmed by looking at the masses as I tried to see each of them as Christ does. He took the time to create each of them exactly as He wanted, and He knows even the secret thoughts of their hearts. They are known, intimately, but they don’t know this. “What a tragedy!” my heart cried. And then I saw our brothers and sisters who have committed their lives to sharing this incredible truth. Their eyes sparkle with warmth. Their smiles are so inviting. Indeed, even their feet are lovely (Romans 10:15). Instantly, my heart was comforted and my peace returned. These missionaries are simple people with struggles, feelings and desires just like me, yet their love for Jesus and faith in Him gives them eyes to see beyond this life. The work the Lord is doing through them is utterly astounding. There is so much hope because of Jesus! I am very thankful for the national missionaries. I want to be just like them. – Elizabeth
How were you encouraged?
One thing that really encouraged me were the national missionaries. Their prayer life is so radical. They pray based on who God is, not on who we are. If someone is sick, they simply lay their hand on the person, bow their head, and say, “I declare healing in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” And move on. Their trust in God is so simple and honest. Like a child. – Elizabeth
Share your story
“Jesus loves you.” I have probably heard those three words hundreds of times during the course of my life. Have I taken those three precious words for granted? Unfortunately, yes.
I am now able to take those three words and apply them to every person in Asia. Half of the world does not know those three words and we have the privilege to tell them. I was able to see the hope that Jesus’ love brings when I looked at our brothers and sisters in Asia. I was able to see Jesus’ love in the children’s smiles. I was able to understand how Jesus takes us, who were once abandoned, hopeless and filthy, and changes us into something beautiful. When I think of all the transformation going on in Asia and how so many people are coming to know Jesus I often think of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We lived completely different lives before the Lord chose us and turned us into new creations.
At the Bridge of Hope center, two girls danced to a song about butterflies and God’s glory. They spread their wings (arms) during the dance, and it brought tears to my eyes to see them as once in bondage in the slums, but now, because of Jesus, they are free to fly. It gave me much hope that every child in the slums and in Asia will have their own set of wings in God’s timing.
The love that the Lord has for us remains a mystery, but there is no doubt it is powerful and has the ability to change people. I would like to pray that all of Asia would know of Jesus’ love and that as a family of Christ, we would be reminded daily of His great love that He has for us, and that we grow intimately in love with Him. – Nikki
Boot Scoot Boogie
I awoke that morning on the train, on a bed that was to short for a 6’ 1” White guy (my feet stuck off the end). But that was okay, I was in Asia BABY! This was the day a lot of us were looking forward to, why? Because we were going to visit our first Bridge of Hope center that evening! Almost my entire background in ministry is children’s ministry, so needless to say I was AMPED. But nothing I had ever experienced before could prepare me for that evening. The day went by like a blur, our schedule was packed full, and I was so focused on what we were doing that it seemed like time doubled its speed. When we arrived at the center, I saw them, dozens and dozens of smiling, laughing, joyful kids. This didn’t surprise me, we were here to see kids, what did surprise me (maybe even shock) was how joyful these kids were, my heart melted right there! Here in America whenever you hear of “poor children” or “underprivileged kids” there is always a sense of depression and hopelessness associated with them, but not here!
We hurried inside and sat down so they could start their program. And so began the most epic night of my life. A few kids came in first and shared a memory verse, and after that the man who was announcing said that it was time for the dancing. The children danced to three songs that night, multiple times! The first time through the songs we sat there and watched, the second time through, somebody in our team started dancing too! Then everyone joined in! We all started jumping and dancing around! Needless to say the kids were delighted, and so was everyone else. But in the back of my mind there was this little voice asking me one question: “WHY ARE YOU DANCING?” That kind of caught me off guard, why was I dancing? If any of you know me, I have probably told you “I DON’T dance!” or more precisely I can’t dance, nothing in the world (I thought) could ever get me to dance, so why was I? Plain and simple, these kids were dancing for Jesus, I wanted to praise Him too, so I started to dance (although it probably made Jesus laugh more than anything else). It made me think of a verse: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17.
Even though this may be a funny story, it does have relevance for me everyday. Do I do everything for Jesus? Or do I go through the day and complain about every little “unimportant” thing that I have to do? Am I filled with joy when I get to serve Jesus, even in the small things? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says this: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I am so thankful that God gave me this story because it gave me a permanent defense against pessimism and complaining! Now whenever I start to feel like I want to complain about how “normal my job is” all I have to do is think of those kids laughing, singing, and praising Jesus, and that makes my whole day better!
What were the teachers like?
The teachers definitely have a love for the students. I remember looking at some cards the children had made for Teacher Appreciation Day and one of the teachers came up and showed them to me with such joy! She went around to the different ones and told me what they said and pointed out the differences that made each of them unique. She then directed me to a board that had pictures of different events the students took part in. Another teacher came over and enthusiastically described every picture in detail. It really was great to see the heart these teachers have and how seriously they take their position. – Marcee
What was the center like?
Walking through the slums, we made our way up a steep set of stairs into a room filled with bright smiles and joyous cheers. There was something so different about this place. The presence of Jesus was felt and the hope for the future was apparent on each child’s face. As they clapped for each one of us and placed a garland of flowers around our necks, I couldn’t help but think, “Who am I to be given this special privilege?” I felt honored to spend time in their company. We didn’t understand much of each other’s language, but as we shared our names, they gave us big hugs and said, “You are my best friend.” My favorite part followed their special presentation (which included Scripture memory recitation, a poem and some dances): I got on the floor and was surrounded by young children, all eager to be close. I taught them a simple rhythm, made up of noises, claps and finger snapping. They were eager to do it with me, laughing at failed attempts, but continuing to try. I couldn’t stop smiling and I didn’t want to leave them. – Anna
What were the children like?
The state of desperation dictated by extreme poverty was worse than anything I could have ever imagined. Affliction, torment, and despair were seared on the faces of the oppressed who were simply striving to survive one more day in the hostile slums of Asia. Children carried little infants, wandering the streets cold, hungry and naked, without a soul to comfort them. A cold callous numbness glazed over their eyes. As far as they knew, their circumstances were without hope of change. The pleasant children in the Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center were unrecognizable from the children of poverty in the slums. With glowing faces and sparkling eyes the children joyfully danced and sang worship songs expressing their deep love and gratitude for the Lord of their salvation. — Christine