From Opium to Bibles: The Transformative Power of the Gospel Among the Akha People

During my visit to the churches among the Akha people of Thailand, I was gifted a unique messenger bag – a colorful cloth bag with a strap to hang on the shoulder. By the end of this journey, my wife and I had received 16 of these bags as gifts.

Different cultures offer various tokens of hospitality to visitors. In parts of Sri Lanka, you are welcomed with a garland of flowers, while in other places, a shawl is placed on your shoulders. However, the gift of this cloth bag was particularly unique.

Our Frontline director explained the bag’s significance. He illustrated how his community of Akha people is dispersed across five nations, facing seven borders. “Our people once gathered poppies grown for the opium trade and collected them into these bags to sell. For decades, that was our means of survival. It only led to our enslavement. When the Gospel came to our people, we were liberated. Now these bags carry Bibles. It’s our new identity as Christians.”

The Akha people no longer grow or sell opium. Instead, they carry Bibles on their shoulders. The bag has become a significant symbol of their changed lifestyle. Reliance on God has replaced reliance on the drug opium.

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Today is world refugee day we want to place a blog today.

Stand with Refugees: A Call to Prayer and Support on World Refugee Day
Today is World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and support for those around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, or persecution. The plight of refugees is a global crisis, affecting millions of people, including more than 365 million Christians who suffer persecution and discrimination, often living as internally displaced individuals desperately seeking safety and assistance.

The Urgent Need for Prayer and Support
In countries like Myanmar and Pakistan, and in many regions like Manipur, India, Christians face severe persecution. They are forced to move from place to place, seeking refuge and support amidst unimaginable hardships. On this World Refugee Day, we are called to stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer and action.

Let us pray together for:

  • All Refugees Fleeing Violence and Hardships: Pray for peace, protection, and provision as they navigate through the challenges of displacement and persecution.
  • Christians Facing Persecution Globally: Pray for their safety, courage, and unwavering faith in the face of trials.
  • Healing and Restoration: Pray for emotional and physical healing for those who have endured great suffering.
  • Alpha Ministries: A Beacon of Hope
  • Alpha Ministries is committed to supporting needy regions in the global south, where many face extreme hardships. Our MAPS (Mission Assisting the Persecuted Saints) program provides crucial support to those in desperate need. On this World Refugee Day, your gift can make a significant impact.

For an investment of any amount, you can help provide:

  • Shelter: Safe housing for displaced families.
  • Relief Kits: Essential food and supplies for daily sustenance.
  • Medical Assistance: Healthcare services for those in need.
  • Trauma Counseling: Emotional and psychological support for those suffering from severe distress.
  • Join Us in Making an Impact
  • Hebrews 13:3 reminds us to stand with the suffering in empathy through prayer and action. Your support can bring hope and healing to countless lives. Join Alpha Ministries today in showing the Body of Christ that we care deeply for them. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of persecuted Christians and refugees worldwide.

How You Can Help
Pray: Dedicate time to pray for refugees and persecuted Christians.
Provide Relief: Contribute to Alpha Ministries’ MAPS program to provide essential support.
Spread Awareness: Share this message with your community to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and the need for collective action.
On this World Refugee Day, let us unite in compassion and solidarity, bringing hope and relief to those who need it most. Together, we can make a lasting impact.

For more information and to make a donation, please visit Alpha Ministries.


Foundational stones in Alpha Ministries are formed through many various functions of support. At the United States home office in Lynchburg, Virginia, Kelly Urbani has been helping the heartbeat of the ministry since 2007. Kelly has been married to her husband, Brian, for nearly 36 years and they have raised a son and daughter. They are the grandparents of 3. Many of you have come to know Kelly as she has helped you in some aspect when you contacted the office. In this newsletter, we would like you to get to know her a little better in her own words.

“I was born in Manassas, Virginia. At the age of 10, my family moved to Vermont. We lived there for 7 years after which we returned to Northern Virginia.

I had known my husband Brian since I was a little girl, however he was 5 years older than me, so we did not socialize in the same friend groups until the college/career Sunday school class. I had just moved back from Vermont. His dad “fixed” us up on our first date. Still being a teenager, I was not quite ready to enter a relationship destined for marriage so soon and I let him know that. In the days following, Brian’s dad was diagnosed with cancer and four months later went home to be with the Lord. The following spring, my dad decided to get us back together. I hadn’t dated anyone in the interim because I was always comparing them to Brian! We were married the summer of 1987, on my grandparents’ 53rd wedding anniversary.

My job description with Alpha Ministries says – executive assistant, but I feel office manager is a more suitable title. Brother Bennie and I attended the same church – Temple Baptist in Madison Heights, Virginia. Also, our daughters were in the same class at Temple Christian School (TCS). I worked as the lunchroom supervisor at TCS. One day in 2007, Brother Bennie approached me about helping him with some office duties. In 2009, when Brother Bennie took his family to live in India for a year, I helped in his absence to keep the office going. In 2013, having completed college as an adult, I left my job at TCS to see where God would have me for my next chapter.

In 2014, I experienced “empty nest” syndrome with my youngest off to college. I had a degree and was searching for the place where God wanted me to go next. I sent out hundreds of resumes, had multiple interviews and yet, no clear answers. God closed every door until I did get a job in the office of a local company, but I knew it was only temporary. During the time that I was working, I was unable to volunteer with Alpha Ministries. With that void, I continued to pray for work that would be as meaningful as raising my children because I wanted the rest of my life to count for the glory of God. I felt Brian and I were already blessed by his income, so seeking work for the benefit of income was not as important to me as making an impact for eternity. Late in 2014, Brother Bennie approached me once again about the possibility of coming to work for the ministry. He was in the process of moving the office from the campus of Temple Baptist to an office location in Lynchburg. I knew this was God answering my prayers. In February 2015, I came on officially as a staff member of Alpha Ministries.

The most challenging part of serving in my role is the mail service and printers – they really test my patience! The most rewarding part of serving with Alpha Ministries is seeing God provide for every challenge, obstacle, need, risk, uncertainty, and set-back on time. The greatest example of God’s provision I have been privileged to see is our Frontline Messengers, who minister under the most trying circumstances, yet they are not distracted from their mission to evangelize for God’s glory. Collectively, they have made such an impact on my life.

The faithful partners and longtime friends of Alpha Ministries never fail to humble me. Their generosity, concern, and personal interest in the ministry are always such an encouragement. Through the years, it has been such a blessing to interact with supporters and get to know them on a personal level. Often the Lord will impress a supporter’s name on my heart, or someone will call or write in with a special need that I am honored to lift before the Lord. A recurring prayer for our supporters is gratitude to the Lord for His people who willingly share of their resources for Kingdom work and for God’s continued blessings upon them.”

Happy Lord’s Resurrection Day to you

As the Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 5, Jewish families across the world will gather around the table for a special Pesach (Passover) Seder meal. They will recount the story of the Exodus, sing songs, and participate in various traditions that capture the true meaning of this holiday.

Moreover, as Passover is celebrated and we approach Resurrection Sunday, let us take a moment to reflect on the love of God displayed through His Son, Jesus. His sacrificial act of becoming the lamb that was slain for our sins has been a symbol of hope and redemption for Christians across the world. Let us remember this and celebrate the eternal freedom we have received through the love of God.

The Bible teaches us that God chose us in Christ even before the foundation of the world, with the intention that we would be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4). To accomplish this divine plan, He had already planned Redemption, even before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). Every detail leading up to the crucifixion was meticulously designed by God. The prophets had already predicted the events that would unfold, and they all came to pass just as the Lord had ordained. The roles played by the Jews and the Romans were all part of God’s grand plan, and nothing was outside of His control. The crucifixion of Jesus was not just a random event that occurred by chance. It was a part of God’s divine plan to save humanity from sin and death. It was an act of ultimate love and sacrifice that demonstrated God’s perfect character and His desire to reconcile us to Himself.

As we reflect on the events leading up to the crucifixion, let us be reminded of God’s unwavering sovereignty and His perfect plan for our salvation. As we enter into this beautiful season, let us focus our thoughts, worship, and gratitude on the cross and the One who willingly subjected Himself to it. The death and resurrection of Christ are the central events in the Christian faith, and Easter is a time when we reflect on these events and their significance for our lives. Christ’s death on the cross was for the redemption of our sins, and His resurrection was for victory over death. It is through His death and resurrection that we have the hope of eternal life.

I pray you will be blessed with renewed hope and purpose as you celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death. May the miracle of His Resurrection live in your heart forever! In the spirit of the resurrected power of Christ, thank you for your support of a ministry that endeavors to carry the message of redemption and resurrection to the unreached people groups of the world. The empty tomb provides the assurance of our salvation and hope for the future. Let us celebrate this coming Resurrection Day with joy and gratitude.

Because of an empty tomb,

Brother Bennie

God’s care and concern for the poor

Galatians 2:10

“All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along”.

The early church had its first doctrinal disputes and met to stand together on common grounds. Chief among their area of agreement was that the assemblies of Jews and Gentiles would not in any way neglect the poor and needy among them. This was going to be the distinguishing feature of the people who were known as Christians. It must remain so till date.

The first Church had been birthed in the power of the Holy Spirit. Their Holy Spirit anointed message was confirmed through the display of signs and wonders (Acts 2:44-45). But if a curious onlooker took a peek inside this new community there was one distinguishing feature – a rich generosity birthed through a genuine love one for another. It was so prevalent that we read that “there were no needy among them” (Acts 4:34a). That’s what made this faith unique and credible in every way.

We realize that the early Church embodied the heart of God in every way. The Old Testament Scriptures – from Moses to the wisdom books to the prophets, reveal God’s concern toward the poor and needy. We will briefly survey the breadth of the scripture in this regard. 

Moses commanded the newly formed community of Israel to be generous toward the poor:

 ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11a. The Mosaic laws if carefully followed were designed to ensure that none would go to sleep hungry in the land. 

In the wisdom books we find a depth of instruction regarding this.

Job speaking of his concern for the poor says: “I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them”. (Job 29:12). His care for the poor was in his mind the proof of his righteousness. The book of Proverbs goes as far as to say this in Proverbs 21:13

“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered”. That if the poor were neglected, God wouldn’t be pleased to answer our prayer. Further, the insult of the poor was considered to be a direct affront to their maker: “Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker” (Proverbs 17:5a). In other words, to neglect the cry of the poor and insult them would be tantamount to picking a fight with their creator. Not a good prospect by any means. That’s why Solomon’s wise counsel he states: “ “A righteous man knows the rights of the poor” Proverbs 29:7. To be mindful of the poor, as we see, is no small matter.

Prophets of old decried the neglect and oppression of the poor and downtrodden. This was one of the many “woes” spoken to the people through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who enact unjust statutes and issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of fair treatment and withhold justice from the oppressed of My people,” (Is 10:1). These words are echoed in Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the minor prophets as well. Amos rebuked the people for their outward worship and admonished them rather to show mercy and justice to those who needed it (Amos 5:23). God describes himself as the ultimate champion of the poor. He vowed punishment to those who despised and neglected them (Isaiah 11:4; 25:4; 29:19; 58:6-7; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 20:13; Habakkuk 3:14; Zephaniah 3:12). 

Isaiah foretold that a key aspect of the Messiah’s ministry would be to “preach the good news to the poor” (Isa 61:2). The fact that Jesus made Himself poor and without reputation in His incarnation speaks volumes of the depth of God’s concern for the lowly. In the earthly life of Jesus, we see Him often being poor and homeless in that He told one of the prospective disciples that “the Son of Man had no place to lay His head” (Matt 8:20). 

Jesus exemplified concern for the poor through His compassion for the multitudes and their needs. Interestingly, when Jesus commanded Judas Iscariot to “do what he was to do quickly”, the disciples assumed that ‘Since Judas had charge of the money Jesus had asked him to give something to the poor.’ (John 13:29). Suffice to say that giving to the poor were was an integral part of the ministry team’s efforts.

All of this comes to play on Judgment Day. In the parable of the great white throne judgment, the righteous are called the sheep by the reigning king. The King extols them for their concern for the poor, the imprisoned, and the outcast. The goats who were unfit for the Kingdom were cast out. They were concerned only with themselves and not with the needs of others. Alas it will be a day to be reckoned with.

Thus, it was fitting that the followers of Christ after His ascension modeled in every way a concern for the poor among them – making sure that no one was neglected. When differences arose in matters of doctrinal understandings, Jew and Gentile could agree on the fact that no matter what, the poor had to be cared for.

The epistles of the Apostles had many instructions for the Churches in matters of care of the needy. John in his epistles raised a question: “If anyone has material possession and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). In John’s gospel, he wrote of how God loved the word and gave His Son. True believers were to be known by their love for one another which was to be displayed not merely in words but in genuine action. The absence of such was a clear sign of lack of genuine faith.

James the brother of Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to the church for the blatant sin of disrespect of the poor and partiality toward the rich (James 2:1-9). Proof of faith is measured in how concerned we are for the rights of the poor. 

What about us, you and I, as members of the body of Christ; are we sharing that concern that God has commanded and exemplified in the person of Christ? 

Alas, we live in a day where ministries that propagate signs and wonders and excess and success, gain the most followers and popularity. We only wish to remind you that which the early Church leadership reminded each other. No matter what, let’s not neglect the care of the poor.  Let us be champions of the poor and neglected. Let us be focused on efforts to help the needy even as they were.

Alpha ministries was birthed in extreme poverty as our founders owned next to nothing. Even then, in extreme poverty they were overflowing in generosity. They didn’t hold back from caring for the needy and being hospitable to others, often at the expense of neglecting the wants of their own children. They did whatever they could in with what they had, and God multiplied the effort.

That spirit of care and compassion we consider our forte even till this day as we carry forward the work that they began. We are grateful that we can extend hands of care to untold thousands. But we are only able to do it thanks to the combined giving of so many. Our publications are sufficient proof that we have extended ourselves in bringing help to those who need it most. Thanks for standing with us to so that we can continue to carry on.


Merry Christmas from Alpha Ministries

Merry Christmas from Alpha Ministries and The Mathews Family

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Dear Friends,

As a missionary, I have celebrated Christmas in many nations and among different people groups. The warmth, customs and generosity of American Christmas traditions is incomparable.  Over generations, Americans have heeded the call of making disciples around the world by sharing the message of Immanuel! God with us! to those souls who have not heard.  Thank you for your partnership with us to continue the task.

Christmas is a season of giving and as Christians we should utilize this God-given opportunity to give unto our brothers and sisters near us and across the world. By sharing our bounty and blessings with others, God will multiply our efforts and lives will be transformed by His grace.

We thank you for investing in our ministry.  The fruit of your efforts continues to produce on the field.  My wife, Lina, and I along with our family and the Alpha Ministries staff and Frontline Messengers, take this opportunity to wish you and your family a season filled with love, joy, and peace.  We are thankful to Almighty God for your partnership and support which has helped us to bring smiles to many faces.

Blessed Christmas!  Glory to God in the Highest.

In Peace,

Brother Bennie

Raj Ram: Stories from the Frontline

“Stop all church and conversion activities or else we will put the dagger in you.”

One of our pastors, Raj Ram, heard these words from a religious fanatic in Raseoni. He was simply trying to return home from the market when the ragtag gang of radicals assaulted him. They shouted at him, making it difficult for him to understand what was happening. The leader of the group spit on him and threatened him with physical violence—they said that if he continued to preach the Gospel, he would not be spared at all. Raj calmly told them that he is a peaceful man. He didn’t know any of them, and he was simply trying to do good by teaching people about Jesus.

Thankfully, he arrived home unharmed. He shared what happened with his wife, and they prayed over it fervently.

Afraid for his congregation, Raj suspended Sunday services and warned believers against carrying their Bibles in public. They have been meeting in small groups on weekday evenings in an effort to avoid the radicals who have been monitoring Raj’s house.

The church in this area is worried about the increased threats. They are standing strong and praying for God’s intervention. Raj doubts that local law enforcement will do anything to protect them.

“I feel strange seeing people’s hatred toward Christ and His followers in such an enormous way,” says Raj. He worries that his congregation will be discouraged.

There are millions more like Raj who face backlash—and physical violence—for the sake of the Gospel. Through our program Mission Assisting Persecuted Saints (M.A.P.S.), you can provide help and hope to persecuted believers living in the shadow of varying levels of discrimination, hostility, violence, arrest, and death for their faith in Jesus Christ. The rising risk of attack makes it critical to budget for legal fees, financial support for imprisoned families, medical expenses, and relocation. 

Will you join us in supporting our brothers and sisters?

South Asia is experiencing a catastrophic surge in COVID-19 cases due to the mutated variants of the virus.

The Battleground
Nepal, Burma, India, and Bangladesh
The Battle 
Asia’s Worsening COVID-19 Crisis Alpha Ministries began our COVID Response work in April 2020, helping to ease the suffering of
families caught in the eye of the pandemic storm. The Lord blessed and we brought help, hope & healing to over 30,000 families in Nepal, Burma, India, and Bangladesh. 
Over the last month, we have seen a sudden rise and the ravaging impact of the second deadly wave of COVID-19.  This new wave has caused loss of lives, massive decimation of the economy, and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.  There is so much needed to stop this devastating
emergency. The infection rates are the highest ever seen, nearly triple 2020’s peak. Hospitals and ICUs are operating at or over capacity. Hospitals across the country are reporting oxygen shortages, and they do not have enough equipment to treat the increasing cases of COVID-19.
With no more room for patients in hospitals, many have perished in ambulances, clinics, at home and even in the streets while waiting for help.  The poor and marginalized are hugely impacted with the consequences and we need to act now. We have launched a comprehensive
response to help the needy on the frontline.  

Battling Hunger
The current crisis has created fear and uncertainty among the poor and vulnerable populace.  Their earnings have been irregular over the last year and they have encountered an inability to provide for their families, causing widespread hunger.  With limited or no daily income, many Indians cannot afford food during the nation’s lockdown, even if it was available for purchase. To stop the calamitous consequences of malnutrition among both children and adults, we are providing Relief & Ration Kits to sustain families during this crucial hour of need.  Through supporting the nutritional needs of vulnerable communities, lives will be transformed. These Relief & Ration Kits are put together and dispersed in local communities by
our Frontline Messengers.
Battling Medical Emergency though our Hotline.  
South Asia is in the midst of a major health crisis and your support is critical. Financial support is required to support families needing emergency medical care.  A help line has been created for these medical professionals to contact us. Christian medical professionals are asked to
contact our office if they see people who are refused care because they cannot afford medical care and/or need other assistance.  Families in need of financial help for medical care also will be directed to our hotline.  Partnering churches are asked to contact us if they need help.  A WhatsApp advertisement was completed to encourage people to call the helpline and we will provide the following services to those in need:

  1. Prayer and counseling
  2. Medical transport (ambulance & ambulatory service)
  3. Medical directions & assistance
  4. Financial help to obtain medicines and other medical help
  5. Food (meals) for those who are sick with COVID and are in isolation
  6. Relief ration kits
  7. Financial support for widows of pastors
    Other help, hope and healing steps taken:
    -Our training center has been turned into a COVID emergency room.
    -Our ministry van is being converted into an ambulance.
    All this is being done by our workers even as they too suffer with illness and family members
    impacted by COVID.
    Battle for the Future
    We anticipate the needs going forward as the virus (hopefully and prayerfully) subsides.  We are organizing a Post-COVID Relief Plan.  There are long-term effects of COVID that we are seeing now with these variants.  There are lot of complications post-disease like extreme fatigue, lethal fungal infections, palpitations, brain fog, and blindness, to name a few.  As the needs continue, we will dedicate Alpha Ministries to be the help, hope and healing.Battling for Truth God gifted both of my parents, Pastor Cherian and Grace, with the ability to see people through the Lord’s eyes. During their time on earth, my parents devoted their entire lives to the needs of the poor and the hurting in India, so that the lost could know a loving Savior in Jesus Christ.  The two were indeed one of a kind. Thank you for your outpouring of kindness and support as my family and I grieve the loss of my beautiful mother, Grace Mathews. John Lennox once said of his own parents, that their ‘…faith was authentically lived out at
    home.’  My siblings and I can testify that this too was true in our home.  My mother was always willing to meet the most urgent needs around her regardless of the source of people’s pain. Her vision was not just to meet physical needs but through various forms of helping, to point every
    person to a hope found only in knowing and understanding Jesus Christ. During this troubled time of the COVID surge that is sweeping Asia, the immediate needs are so great and entire families have been affected by COVID death, hospitalization, and loss of income related to increasing poverty from the worsening health and economic crises.  The truth of Christ is needed to battle the hopelessness that these people are feeling.  Your prayers are deeply needed.  Please help us continue my mom Grace’s vision of reaching others by considering a memorial gift that would go directly to those suffering and impoverished.  Thank you in advance for your prayers and financial support.  God’s blessings upon you and
    deep appreciation for considering partnering with us.

Donate Now
With your help, Alpha Ministries is distributing food and hygiene supplies to people in desperate need because of COVID-19.

Click here to Donate now


Grace Mathews was born in Ranni, Kerala, on December 23, 1939. Pastor Cherian and Grace Mathews served the people of Gujarat, India, and other parts of the world for nearly 60 years.  She birthed seven children, but was a spiritual mother to countless others. Her life’s purpose was to share and demonstrate Jesus’ love boldly.  She was a visionary who always attempted and achieved great things for the Kingdom of God.  Her faith, conviction, care, and cheerful hospitality were some of her greatest traits that impacted thousands across generations and continents.  Grace was a powerhouse who helped and inspired people to do great things.
In 1965, God called Pastor Mathews and Grace to minister in Gujarat, India.  While expecting her second child and her firstborn son in tow, she boarded the train from Kerala to join her husband who was already on the mission field.  God miraculously provided tickets and food for the four day trip to northern India. On that day, and until her last breath, her faith and prayer were her leading assets. Pastor Mathews and Grace suffered extreme hardships, persecution, hunger and even the death of a child.  Nevertheless, Grace’s firm foundation in Christ held the family together through her relentless faith, prayers, and hard work, while serving the Lord cheerfully.  Her greatest desire was for her children and grandchildren to become men and women of faith, who would serve God faithfully and become world changers.
She served God with unwavering faith along with Pastor Mathews and their six children.  The loss of her daughter due to a lack of funds for medical care was among her most difficult challenges, but she used it to help and encourage the childless and those who suffered like she had.  She valued life and was outspoken for the rights of unborn children.  She spent her birthdays gifting sarees and feeding the widows and orphans.  She shared hope and encouragement with foreigners who felt out of place, and visitors from various places always stopped at her home because they were sure they would never leave hungry.  She was an amazing evangelist who never lost an opportunity to witness to anyone that crossed her path.  Her
heartbeat was to make Jesus known to the least of these through word and deed.
Grace is survived by five sons and one daughter and their spouses: Benny and Lina Mathews, Finny and Bindu Mathews, Denny and Bella Mathews, Davis and Anila Mathews, Jimmy and Susan Mathews, and Lovely and Denny Koshy.  She was blessed with 21 grandchildren: Faith-Hannah and her husband LJ, Ben-Israel and his wife Elizabeth, Joy-Ruth, Debbie and her husband Trevor, Charles, Abel, Jude, Abigail, Hannah, Jonah, Bethany, Anna, Asha, Nathan, Micah, Selah, Jonathan, David, Ruth, Jerusalem, and Timothy. She was also blessed with a great grandchild, Haven.  She is also survived by her siblings: Moni Varghese, Thankachan George, Cherian George, and Thomas George as well as many nieces and nephews. 
She was known as “Ammachi” to her grandchildren.  And she was known endearingly as Mummy by all. Her legacy continues through her children, grandchildren, and the countless others whom she touched with her caring heart and hands by serving, praying, witnessing, discipling and speaking life to the hopeless.

South Asia Needs The Gospel Of Christ… Doorway To Bring Help, Hope & Healing

About a month ago I returned from a month’s long trip to South Asia. Three of our pastors were held in prison for over a month. Praise the Lord, they were granted bail, but the case remains open. Pray that this case will be closed, and our people released from charges.

My 82-year-old mother had a fall and fractured her back. She was on bedrest for over a month. Praise the Lord, she is now able to get up and walk. Thank you for praying and uplifting her during this difficult time.

While preparing to leave for the USA on March 10th, I received news that one of our pioneer pastors, V. M. Samuel, was rushed to emergency surgery. He was 67 years old. He had a stroke and died at the hospital. The next day we received more sad news. One of the fellow pioneer pastors who came with Pastor V.M. to serve in that region, Pastor John Quadros, died in his sleep on March 11th. Both pastors were the same age and were dear friends. I extended my stay to visit the grieving families and attend funeral services. Finally, I was set to leave for the airport, however I became very ill. I had some sort of food poisoning and I had to cancel my return flight twice. By the grace of God I have recovered and am now home.

Yes, it has been an eventful beginning to 2021. The nation of Burma (Myanmar) is under martial law situation. The security forces have killed hundreds of people since the recent military coup began. The death toll in Burma has been steadily rising as authorities grow more forceful with their suppression of opposition.

The unrest emerging in India, however, is of a different breed. Several states in India approved ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill 2021’. According to this law, individuals seeking to change their religion for any reason must ask government permission. The law also criminalizes religious conversions through marriage. Persons could face a prison sentence of three to ten years and a fine of $400. Everyone is under constant surveillance and fears rise among religious minorities, especially Christians, as violence spikes following this controversial new law.

South Asia needs the Gospel of Christ, as I saw the gripping reality firsthand and the Lord impressed the need for action. In developing countries, poverty is perpetuated by lack of education and skills. Poorer children cannot attend school due to fees, sickness from unclean water, or the necessity of having to work to help the family with income.
Through our project, Vocational Instruction Transforms-A-Life (V.I.T.A.L.), Alpha Ministries is breaking cycle of deprived education
through vocational training for skills such as sewing and embroidery. The empowerment of self-sufficiency can break many bonds that the enemy uses to discourage and suppress. A small tailoring business can support an entire family, creating self-sufficiency that will lead to more needs has proven to be an effective means of evangelism.

For April, we have another unique opportunity to give and have our gifts matched. I am pleased to tell you that a friend of the ministry has offered a $50,000 matching challenge, which means every gift we receive by April 31 will effectively be DOUBLED to do twice as much. The Lord has inspired them to help young women and girls out of despairing situation. Prize, any gift you give to V.I.T.A.L. this month will be doubled up to $50,000.

To a struggling woman or girl in Burma or Bangladesh, the sewing machine you provide can be the doorway to a better life. You will help a single mother, orphaned teen, or widow feel the dignity of providing for herself and her family. By providing a family with a sewing machine, you offer them an opportunity to earn a decent living for the first time.

In Myanmar, Nepal & Bangladesh and regions beyond our efforts have been successful. Thanks be to God for His mercy in transforming lives. With your gifts and the generous $50,000, we can reach many more. And thanks to the Matching Challenge, can we count on your help to make the most of this fantastic opportunity? Rejoice with us over these testimonies of work already begun.

TESTIMONIES: The Civil War in Myanmar impacted the Binoo family farm. Because of the unrest, they could not plant. With no planting, there is no harvest. Kim is seventeen, has three brothers and a sister. She heard the Gospel message from a local pastor and now believes in Jesus. She has zeal for the Lord and would like to go to Bible School so she can help suffering people. Now that she has sewing skills through V.I.T.A.L., she wants to help others and minister to suffering people.

The Vinyai family was in a village where two armed groups were fighting, and the road was shut down so that no food or supplies could enter the village. Eighteen-year-old Pathan is one of the seven siblings in the Vinyai family. She came to the training camp and is now a believer in Jesus. She would like to run her own sewing shop.

Like Pathan, Sindu and Mantan are both eighteen and come from large families. They were also driven from their villages because of the war. Both are believers and want to become clothing designers.

Many of the current V.I.T.A.L. graduates from the training have similar testimonies. Lives insecure from war, lack of education and poverty are now stable and peaceful. These souls now know the love of Christ, and many are dedicating themselves in service to others.

Please pray for V.I.T.A.L ministry, the families impacted and give a practical gift in the Name of Jesus to people who need it most. I am humbled and grateful. All additional gifts this month will go towards the challenge. Thank you!