“‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:16).
One of the first things people notice when they come to various parts of Asia is how many children there are everywhere. In countries like India, Nepal, and Indonesia, around one-third of the population are children aged below 14. Perhaps the youngest population of all the countries we work in is found in Laos, where it’s not uncommon for families to have 7, 8, or even 10 children.
The devil, with the help of wicked men, has always known that the future of any movement depends on its youth. The evil one has focused many of his most severe attacks on children, whether by Pharaoh at the time of Moses, or Herod’s slaughter of the children in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus.
In China—where the economic future and social fabric are under strain because of the terrible ‘one-child policy’ of the past three decades—the Communist government has long been terrified of Christian activity among children. While evangelists often faced two or three years in prison if caught preaching the gospel to adults, those engaged in outreach to children invariably faced more severe punishment and harsher prison sentences.
Although it may go against conventional wisdom, over the years we have seen how the Lord has penetrated entire communities by first reaching the children. When God gets a hold of them, their dramatic change in behavior is a powerful witness which convinces adults of the power of the gospel. Countless rebellious and unruly kids have been transformed by the Holy Spirit into obedient and respectful children.
We know from Scripture that Satan’s primary desire is to usurp God and attempt to steal His glory. A big part of the enemy’s plan is to corrupt the young generation, so that they will grow up without faith in God and unable to discern right from wrong. We can see evidence of this around us every day as society decays.
On the other hand, children who have been redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ are tremendous weapons for the kingdom of God, and a powerful force for good in their schools and communities. The devil trembles whenever the Holy Spirit brings children into the kingdom of God. King David once proclaimed, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2).
In this, our final newsletter of 2016, we would like to share with you a wonderful opportunity to help the Church in Asia reach tens of thousands of precious children with the gospel in the coming months. Please pray for this project and prayerfully consider if you might be able to help get God’s Word into the hands of children throughout Asia.
Sharing God’s Word with the Children of Asia
One of the greatest joys we at Asia Harvest have experienced over the years has been to see and hear reports of how the Word of God has transformed entire communities. We don’t just mean that powerful preaching has achieved such results, but the seed of the printed Word of God itself has found much fertile soil in the hearts of multitudes of people.
On countless occasions after giving out a gospel booklet, or an evangelistic tract, people’s consciences have been pricked and the Holy Spirit has convicted them of sin. Truly, “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
We realize that in your part of the world society may have become hardened against the Christian message for a variety of reasons, but throughout Asia— especially in those places that have yet to hear about Jesus Christ—there is a great hunger to read and listen to the Bible. Many times we have seen both young and old people captivated when they are first exposed to the life and teachings of Jesus. We have even had groups of people chase us down the street begging for a gospel booklet so they can take it home and study it with family members and friends.
This month, we would like to present a tremendous opportunity to reach many children through our Bless the Children Fund. Our co-workers in different countries of Asia have been pleading for more good printed material specifically designed to reach children with the gospel. The desired books have already been translated and used in the past, with great success.
In one country of Asia (which we aren’t able to name for security reasons), 30,000 Children’s Bible Story books were printed and distributed a few years ago across a wide geographical area. The church leaders who oversaw the distribution are humble believers who avoid exaggeration, so they set up a database to carefully track the number of solid decisions for the Lord that resulted from the project.
After months of research they reported that “more than 10,000 came to faith in Jesus,” and were being discipled by local believers! We were overjoyed to hear this news, and rejoiced to think that 10,000 children were now following the Lord who otherwise may have grown up without ever knowing His Name. “Oh no, you misunderstood!” our co-workers replied. “We didn’t say that over 10,000 children have placed their trust in the Living God. Our research has found that more than 10,000 families are currently being discipled!”
We believe one of the key reasons for the success of this project is the quality of the books themselves. They are beautifully illustrated in full color, and the children who receive these books treat them as precious gifts. Each of the Bible stories is presented with a Scripture verse to help readers meditate on what they have just read, followed by three questions pertaining to the page they have just studied.
The books are such a blessing that they are read multiple times, and talked about at school and among friends. Neighbors frequently come together to discuss the Bible with one another, and in many villages and towns children gather to read the stories as a group, like in the picture below.
One of the unexpected blessings of this project is that not only have thousands of children reached out to Jesus Christ, but their parents have also found Him! In some places the families may have already been nominal Christians, but their understanding of the Bible greatly increased as they read the books together. In many other instances, adults did not understand God’s Word because they are illiterate, or semi-literate. The books helped them grasp the reality of the Lord Jesus.
The ministry leaders were so encouraged by the past fruit of this project that they have requested to do it again this year in different regions. Much planning has already been done. Follow-up teams are poised to help people take the next step in their relationship with God. This year, they have requested 50,000 children’s Bible story books, which they will distribute to children through a network of churches in time for Christmas, and into early 2017 if necessary.
In another country, our co-workers have also requested 50,000 of the books in their language by the end of the year. They have teams of pastors, evangelists and Bible teachers waiting to bring in the harvest. In total, after much prayerful consideration, we have committed to print 100,000 Children’s Bible Story books. The average cost per book, for printing and delivery, is $1.70. We therefore need $170,000 to complete this project, and we trust the Lord will provide.
Few things are as dear to God’s heart as reaching children with the message of salvation. Based on past results, we anticipate that tens of thousands of families will put their trust in Jesus Christ.
Please pray for the success of this project as it unfolds in the coming months. Ask God to protect and grant favor all those involved, so that His Name may be glorified and thousands of children will come to know God as their Heavenly Father.
If you would like to support the project financially, please return the enclosed yellow form along with a gift desingated to the Bless the Children Fund. Alternatively, you may give via our secure website (www.asiaharvest.org).
In a recent newsletter we shared an astonishing testimony about an 84-year-old tribal woman in Myanmar (Burma) who finally received her own Bible after 71 years of praying for one. We thought her testimony was an isolated one, but our co-workers recently came across this dear 81-year-old man, from the same tribe, who has a remarkably similar story to tell. Here is part of his testimony:
"My name is Saw and I was born in August 1934. I am now 82-years-old and I am part of the Karen tribe. I was brought up in a Buddhist family.
Because of war between my people and the Burmese military, my family was forced to move from place to place during my childhood. When I was 12- years-old my parents were killed by the army. I was completely devastated and I didn’t know how to go forward with my life. The foundations of my life were suddenly destroyed and my existence felt meaningless.
At my lowest point I was invited to stay with a Karen pastor and his family. I will always be indebted to their kindness to me. In 1952, when I was 18, I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He transformed me from the inside-out and for the first time I felt the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit in my heart.
I regularly attended church and was an active believer, but in our congregation there were no Bibles except the pastor’s personal copy. I had never even touched a Bible, because I thought they were so rare and precious that only the senior leader of a church had the right to touch one.
Since 1952 I have continually asked God to help me have my own Bible, so I can know and obey His Word. After 64 years, the Lord has answered my prayers through your ministry of love! I tried to pay for it, but was told it was a free gift. I praise God and I promise I will always pray for you.”
Brother Saw recently received a Bible through our Asian Bible Fund. We have provided the Scriptures in 72 different languages through this crucial project. Each Bible costs an average of $2.70 to print and distribute. Thank you for your prayers and support.