When the Way Seems Hard

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring
whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11 niv)

 

Though our family encountered many challenges last year, through them all, God faithfully guided and provided grace, mercy and peace. He is our good Shepherd, leading and guiding even when the path seems treacherous, when the land seems barren, when your burden is heavy and the way is dark and gloomy.

I want to encourage you that whenever you face challenges in life—and you will—always remember that God will use those challenges to mature you in your walk as you trust in Him. He is Faithful and He will strengthen your faith for the journey. His Holy Spirit will comfort you as you lay your burdens at the foot of the cross.

Similarly, when you encounter opportunities, pray and seek God’s counsel as to how He wants to expand your borders and your vision. You will not be disappointed! My father and mother have made it their life-long practice to always seek the Lord before moving forward or expanding into new fields of ministry.

During the holidays, our teams across south Asia were confronted with many obstacles that prevented them from publicly acknowledging the birth of Jesus or celebrating Christmas in any way. However, through prayer and determination, the Lord made a way in many situations.

When the district police in the city of Lanni denied our Alpha Church permission to celebrate Christmas publicly, the pastor went to the regional police for assistance. When it seemed that his efforts would be in vain, permission was granted at the very last minute and a police squad was assigned duty at the venue for protection.

The Lanni church members printed 1700 invitation cards for the Christmas celebration and nearly 1500 people showed up—half of whom had never heard the gospel! It was a firecracker of a celebration with hundreds dancing and praising the Lord, and our Alpha Ministries pastor (MN) preached for an hour declaring Christ as the Savior of the world.

The entire crowd was fed a sumptuous meal, and the police officers even enjoyed the program and were each given a New Testament. The next day, the local paper carried the news that the Lanni Alpha Church organized a Christmas celebration and that there was much joy as the gospel was shared—complete with pictures. God is on the move in the world today!

God is also moving in Saakasa Village, where pastor RB and his team launched a public Christmas rally. They went through the streets singing about the Savior who was born on Christmas day and nearly 450 people attended the public Christmas program in the main city square.

A well-known evangelist preached and a music team led special songs. Many bystanders said they had never seen a public rally go so peacefully and without trash littering the streets. The church had maintained the cleanliness of the city streets and received praise from community leaders. Many have asked to know more about Christ as a result.

The Alpha Church in Gujarat hosted the annual Christmas Day pageant in the University auditorium where 650 people gathered. The youth and children presented the entire gospel to the audience through skits and songs. In the end, Jesus was preached. Over 150 in attendance heard the Gospel for the first time.

A number of public schools gave us permission to do Christmas programs where we shared the Christmas message through singing carols. The youth did an event in the college women’s hostel where 150 college students stay. It was remarkable to see the songs and testimonies impact the hearts of the people. Most of the women commented on their surprise that it was possible to have a relationship with God. They had never heard of anything like that.

There are many more stories I could share about the many ways God opened doors for us and your partnership made it possible for us to proclaim the Good News!

Remember that many of these victories were achieved in a country that the organization Open Doors ranks as the 10th most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian, where “violence and injustice against Christians is on a deadly rise by more than 400 percent in recent years.” I can’t stress enough how important your prayers are as we continue.

I can tell you on behalf of the church planters, pastors, children, youth, churches and families we represent worldwide—your prayers and generosity are a lifeline for which we are all tremendously grateful. Please continue to pray for our teams as we labor to serve the persecuted church in South Asia and make disciples by training and equipping the frontline workers of the harvest. The Gospel is still vehemently resisted in some of the regions we reach, but we continue to press on, proclaiming the love of God.

Thank you for partnering with Alpha Ministries as we eagerly look for more ways to serve God and meet the needs around us in 2020! I believe God has tremendous opportunities ahead for us this year, and I am very glad to know that you are part of this work as we move forward.

I Am With You Always

I Am With You Always

Shining brightly in the midst of persecution

When Yogendra Nishad was a young boy, his home was filled with turmoil. His father and uncles were alcoholics and what little money they earned quickly went to buy more booze. Their families were struggling financially and emotionally.

During the worst of it, one of our pastors visited the family and shared the Gospel with them. As they prayed together, strongholds were broken and the Lord mightily touched their lives. Yogendra accepted Jesus as his Savior, and so did his father and uncles. They were set free from drinking and the entire family began attending church. As they grew in faith, they began to see the blessings of the Lord.

But their new faith began to be tested right away.

The rest of the villagers and the village leaders soon heard of the family’s conversion. Leaving traditional faiths to follow Jesus is not allowed. The villagers organized against Yogendra’s family and began to threaten and persecute them, insisting that they renounce their faith in Jesus or face the consequences.

As Yogendra’s family continued to grow stronger in their Christian faith, the persecution increased. The villagers ordered the shopkeepers to refuse to sell them any food or necessities. The family had to walk about 5 miles to the nearest shop that would allow them to purchase what they needed. The wives were harassed in the streets. In school, Yogendra was teased mercilessly by his classmates for his decision to follow Jesus. The villagers encouraged their children to bully and harass him.

For a boy in 5th grade, Yogendra’s world was becoming very lonely. His parents encouraged him to remember the promise of Jesus, that He was with Yogendra always, even when he was being teased and harassed, and that the Lord would make a way for him. Yogendra also looked forward to the Pastor’s visits because he would encourage the family from God’s Word and they would pray together.

They began to see the Lord helping them in every situation . . . and so did the villagers. They began to recognize that Jesus was protecting the family from all their threats. They saw that the family remained strong in their faith and not even witchcraft was affecting them.

God has been glorified in their home and in their lives in the midst of persecution. The children have excelled in their studies and the family is prospering in spite of the opposition they have faced. Little by little, the villagers are beginning to speak to them again. Yogendra is happy and wants to become a pastor when he is older.

Please continue to pray for families like Yogendra’s who are caught in the crossfire of persecution, that they would have the grace to love those who persecute them and truly be salt and light for the world. Families are suffering physical violence and much worse for following Jesus. Your prayers and practical support truly make a difference for our persecuted brothers and sisters!

 

 

*Representative names and images used for safety. 

A “Great Awakening”

Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
Psalm 2:8

Do you ever come upon circumstances that don’t seem to change no matter how much you pray? Don’t give up. Press in to God, hear Him, obey Him, and have faith in His answer.

Majeet had spent the majority of her life battling chronic illness. Beginning in childhood and continuing on throughout her adult life as a wife and mother, she remained plagued by sickness and was unable to find healing and relief. After meeting with many specialists from several different hospitals in South Asia, the sickness that ravaged Majeet’s body seemed to have no cure. Her circumstances appeared to be bleak and hopeless.

In Majeet’s community, there was a woman named Geeta who lived her life as a devout follower of Jesus. After learning of Majeet’s difficult situation, she asked if she could pray over her for God to heal her body. Majeet, having exhausted all other resources, agreed to be prayed over by her neighbor. Miraculously, as soon as the prayer was spoken, Majeet was healed and felt well for the first time in many years. As a result of that divine intervention and with a sincere heart of gratitude, she accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior and began to regularly attend Church with Geeta.

Unfortunately, as is often the case for many individuals who become Christians in areas hostile to the Gospel, Majeet’s husband, Labh, began to adamantly oppose her new found faith, and started threatening her as a means to quench her new enthusiasm for her beliefs. He forbade her to continue attending church and made sure she had little to no opportunity to fellowship with other believers or to worship corporately.

As a trucker, Labh worked long and difficult hours to provide for the family and would often have to leave for days at a time when traveling lengthy distances. The trips became opportunities for Majeet to return to church and continue learning about Jesus and how to grow as a new believer. As time went by and as Majeet continued to mature in her faith, she became more and more concerned for the spiritual well-being of her husband. She began praying earnestly for his salvation and even started incorporating fasting into her life to address the great burden she felt for Labh.

Year went by and Majeet stayed faithful in prayer and fasting, yet it seemed to be have no effect on Labh’s opinion of his wife’s faith. Then one night, as Labh slept on a cot outside of their home, he was awakened by the spirit of a dead woman tormenting him. Horrified, he began screaming and crying out for help. Majeet, startled by the sound, ran outside and began praying for her husband in the name of Jesus. In that moment, as quickly as the terrifying encounter began, the dark spirit left him.

The very next day, Labh became a follower of Jesus Christ. He started going to church with Majeet and became adamant about growing in his newfound faith!

Never give up praying for your loved ones!

God hears your prayers and is at work on their behalf. Our Father continues to open hearts and open doors for us to expand our reach with the power of the Gospel. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support that makes this ongoing work possible!

In the Arms of the Savior

Pastor Cherian Mathews peacefully transitioned into eternity on October 15, 2019 at 3:55 PM at his home in Bethel, Fatehgunj, Baroda, surrounded by his loving family and friends.

 

Pastor Mathews was born in Panaveli, Kottarakara, Kerala on January 31, 1937. He and his wife of 56 years, Grace, dedicated their lives in service to the people of Gujarat, India, and many parts of the world. A man of fervent prayer, vast faith, genuine humility, steadfast purpose, immense strength and contagious joy. He lived for one big purpose—to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! His heart was always for the poor, downtrodden and the underdog. This was his lifetime calling, and he never retired.

 

God called Pastor Mathews and his wife Grace to Gujarat, India, in 1965. They moved to Baroda with their infant son, while Grace was carrying their second child. They did not know where they will stay the night they arrived in Baroda. Since that day until today, prayer was his only asset and the foundation of all his endeavors. He spent hours very early in the morning praying for the nations of the world. What started as a small church in Baroda has now blossomed into a ministry that has impacted the world – from India to Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Philippines, Peru, Cuba, Ecuador, Brazil, East and West Africa. Pastor Mathews oversaw about 1,400 pastors and served nearly 2,000 children across these nations. He also founded the Mathews Educational Trust, Alpha International School, Alpha Bible College, and M:28 Church Based Bible institute.

 

Pastor Mathews was a trailblazer and God used him to break through the stale traditions and prejudices of the prevalent church culture of his time. He went against the tide with a simple message of salvation for sinners and a heart for helping the poor. Contrary to the systems of caste, regionalism and cultural prejudice that divided people, he viewed everyone as equal, accepting people of all walks of life as his own and championing their cause. Ably supported by Grace, they made inroads from Baroda into the villages of Anand and Kheda district. Pastor Mathews was a close friend of Rev. Dr. Joshua C. Raj, one of the pioneers who launched the Gospel into South Gujarat. Together they witnessed the early revivals in Dang and Vyara districts, which mushroomed into hundreds of churches in the regions. Later he focused on church planting in twelve North Indian states. He practiced incarnational ministry by going and living among the poorest tribes and people groups and identifying with them in every way. It is believed that over a million people have heard the gospel through the mission in the nations over the years.

 

Pastor Mathews is survived by his wife Grace, five sons, one daughter and their spouses, and three siblings. He was blessed with 21 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was known as “Appacha” to his grandchildren. And he was known endearingly as “Pappa” by all. His legacy continues through his children, grandchildren and the countless others he inspired to become ambassadors for Christ.

 

Many have asked about giving in honor of his life. If you wish to do so, please direct your giving to the Alpha Grace Kids Project that was so dear to his heart.

Transforming Power Defies Human Explanation

“For 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 4:12niv

Many of the people groups we minister to have never had the opportunity to hear of the God Who loves them and gave His life for them. Access to God’s Word is very limited in the developing world. Since its founding, Alpha Ministries has purposed to share God’s Word with these unreached people groups on a larger scale every year because the transforming power defies human explanation.

Rani is a teenaged girl from a small village in South Asia. Her father earns a living as a food vendor. Rani and her family have always been devout in their traditional faith and maintain the various rituals, but their hearts were never filled with peace. Rani’s father was an alcoholic; and Rani was tormented by an evil spirit.

In the midst of this unrest, a frontline worker with Alpha Ministries met them and shared God’s word with them. When he asked them if they wanted to receive Christ, they prayed with the worker and were filled with peace that only Christ can give. Rani was delivered from torment and her natural curiosity motivated her to learn more about her Savior. She also had a desire to share what He had done in her life. It was a joyful day when she received a Bible of her own from our frontline worker.

Immediately Rani started to read and study the Word. She experienced the cleansing power of God’s truth and grew strong in her new faith. The Bible gave her and her family the knowledge and confidence to witness to their neighbors. Rani and her family now lead their neighbors in Bible study and prayer, through which they have witnessed many souls delivered from sin and healed from illness. They are extremely grateful for the ministry and Bibles that helped to change the course of their lives.

In another village, 23-year old Santlal had grown up partaking in the rituals and ceremonies of his family’s faith. Sadly, his family’s liquor business had turned him into an alcoholic. He could often be found in a drunken state, fighting with his wife and causing turmoil in his home.
That changed one day when a frontline worker was in his village sharing God’s Word and distributing Bibles. The worker encouraged everyone to read of the transforming power of Christ. Santlal took one of the Bibles home and began to read. He could not stop reading it day or night. The power of God’s word worked in his heart and he experienced peace for the first time in his life.

Suddenly, he had a desire to go to the church and testify about the changes in his behavior. When Santlal and his family attended church, he told the believers he wanted to learn even more. The frontline worker led him in the sinner’s prayer and began to teach him more from God’s Word. Everyone around him could see the changes in his life and behavior. He decided to leave his liquor business and stopped drinking. He cleansed his home and was greatly affected by the apostle Paul’s letter to Ephesians which helped him to become a better husband. His eyes were opened to the sin in his life, so he confessed his mistakes to his wife and reconciled with her.

Today, Santlal and his family believe upon Jesus are living a blessed life. He shares how if he had not received the Bible, he and his family would have been lost and troubled. He is grateful for God’s Word in his life.

There are so many ways the faithful prayers and financial blessings from friends like you are impacting lives all across South Asia! Thank you for standing with Alpha Ministries. #UntilAllHaveHeard.

 

 

NEVER THIRST AGAIN

Monsoon season across south Asia kept us very busy this summer distributing bottled water, food and other supplies, and doing general relief work. It was baffling to see so much water flooding streets, homes and businesses—all the while knowing that not a drop of it was safe to drink. People formed long lines, sometimes waiting in knee-deep flood waters, to receive the bananas and bottled water we offered.

Many times I thought of Jesus’ words, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). We prayed that they would hunger and thirst for the Living Water and the Bread of Life!

We are deeply grateful for your support that allows us to fulfill the mission of this ministry. Since our beginning over 55 years ago, we have impacted more than half a million lives through our five key ministry avenues: Evangelism, Discipleship, Ministry to Children, MAPS Persecution Relief and IMPACT Projects.

We couldn’t do it without the dedicated help of our Hope Partners—friends who faithfully stand with us through prayer and financial support so we can minister to others. As we read in Hebrews, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (13:16). We are so grateful for those who live out such verses as messengers of hope to a broken world.

Though many are desperately waiting to hear about Christ, it is becoming much more difficult to share Jesus in many regions of South Asia. Believers often face intense pressure and persecution. Please remember to pray for safety and protection for all of our frontline messengers, our teams and families.

These testimonies show the difference you are making!

Bibles for New Believers
The transforming power of God’s Word defies human explanation. Santlal was born and raised in another religion, but his family’s liquor business led him to become an abrasive alcoholic. One day, one of our frontline workers went to Santlal’s village to share Bibles. Santlal took one and could not stop reading it day and night. God’s Word did a deep work in his heart and he experienced peace for the first time in his life. He took his family to church so he could testify about the change. The frontline worker lead him in the sinner’s prayer and began to disciple him. Santlal left his family’s business, stopped drinking, removed temptations from his home, and learned to be a better husband. Santlal testifies that he and his family would have remained lost and troubled had he not received that Bible. He is grateful for God’s Word in his life.

Impact Conference
“I am thankful to the Lord for enabling me to attend my first Impact Conference. It is because of Alpha Ministries that today I have a strong relationship with my Lord.” – Daniel

M:28 Institute
“I was blessed immensely by the teaching at M:28. I came to know in-depth about salvation and many other aspects of Christian life. I feel well equipped after this Bible training and want to give heartfelt gratitude to those who made it possible.” – Anil

M:28 Institute 
“The M:28 training has helped me to go to mission fields with my husband and be a witness for the Lord.” – Lokeshwari

Thank You for your Partnership that helps Alpha Ministries fulfill the great commission!

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
(2 Timothy 2:2)

Fruit that Remains

“I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

—William Carey, the father of modern missions

 

The heartbeat of Alpha Ministries is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with every unreached man, woman and child. As Scripture asks, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14 NKJV).

Our primary focus is the “10/40 Window,” an area stretching from North Africa to China that extends from latitudes 10° to 40° north of the equator. More than 3.2 billion people live in that region and 95% of them do not know Jesus. With the help of caring people like you, Alpha Ministries goes to these unreached areas, sharing the Good News, training and equipping ministers, and planting churches where no church exists.

I am amazed when I talk to the people attending crowded conferences in foreign lands. I meet hundreds of them who have come to know Jesus Christ because of the labor of a native frontline messenger. The work of these dedicated men and their families is yielding much fruit…fruit that remains! I am overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving whenever I encounter a young missionary in such meetings who tells me, “I follow God because you helped my father follow God.”

If you know me, you know that I rejoice whenever I see a young man or young woman who has come to follow Jesus into freedom—out of the bondage of sin. But when I hear that the fruit of sharing the Good News and training one man to reach villages in his region has led to his household coming to Christ, as well as hundreds of people around him, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. The men and women we train mature and pass on that knowledge to younger generations and see lifelong effects. The power of God’s Word continues to open doors for our frontline messengers to share the hope of the gospel in a vast array of strategic settings.

Our recent Lanji leadership training conference was a tremendous success with over 1200 people in attendance—twice the number they were prepared to host. More than 100 people were prepared to be baptized as a result of this conference. Many made commitments to become a VM1000 member to help us reach our goal to minister to 100,000 new villages. Over 60 people engaged in leadership development.

Friend, God moves in mysterious ways and His ways are always perfect. God does not send everyone to the mission field, but everyone can partner in the work of missions in one way or another. Thank you for faithfully supporting missions by praying, sending and perhaps even going. May God continue to make His calling strong and sure in your life and sustain the great work that He has placed in our humble hands. We are grateful to be used in His harvest fields to reach the unreached of the world!

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
― Abraham Kuyper

For Those Who Believe

For Those Who Believe…

The statistics are clear. We’ve heard the appalling truth and have been made aware of the heart wrenching accounts of men, women, and children who have been forced to suffer through atrocities both blatant and subtle simply for living out their lives as followers of Jesus Christ. We’ve attended the church services where missionaries have come and expounded upon the issues they face on the frontline on a daily basis where their friends and communities are threatened with attack and fear tactics. We’ve seen the Facebook links shared where new evidences of systematic efforts to silence Christians by major world governments have been made apparent as an attempt to silence Christians through means of discrimination, neglect, torture, and even death. For those of you who believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, we want to challenge you with a very important question: “So now what?” If you’re anything like us, this may seem like a daunting, overwhelming, and impossible question with which you may be tempted to shy away from answering. We’re thankful that you’ve found yourself at our blog and pray that you leave encouraged, inspired, and prepared to take action.

 For Eternity to Come

When thinking of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, we at Alpha Ministries can’t help but joyfully look to the eternal glory that is to come. Scripture reminds us in the book of Revelation that, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” While we can look around and daily experience the heartache, trials, and pain of our fallen world, we are also able to look to God’s word and find comfort in the fact that this life is a prologue, merely introducing the eternal story of glory, freedom, and perfect peace that is to come. While abundance in following Christ is most certainly found on this side of Heaven, and our eternal security in no way excuses us from striving for justice now, we are encouraging you to take this season to pause and express our gratitude to God for the place that He is preparing for us. With this mindset now at the forefront of our thoughts, we can actively engage and challenge ourselves with how we can step in and take action on behalf of our vulnerable brothers and sisters.

Stay Informed

While this idea of staying informed as a way to come alongside Christians facing persecution seems obvious and minimal, we truly cannot overemphasize how important it is. Imagine having your human rights stripped from you, losing your home, and being violently assaulted all because of your faith and the world not having any idea of what was happening to you. The thought is intolerable! By taking the first step to willingly invest in being in “the know” regarding issues that the global church faces in hostile places around the world, you are making real progress in real intervention happening on behalf of those who desperately need it. We highly recommend visiting https://www.persecution.comfor up-to-date news and resources regarding Christian persecution. You can also follow along with our blog, ministry, and subscribe to our newsletter!

Pray Earnestly

Even more so than staying informed, lifting up those in need through diligent prayer is an active form of intercession that persecuted men and women treasure and are always quick to ask for. While many of us are unable to spare additional financial resources, earnest prayer is a sacrifice of what you are able to give that honors God and makes true difference for those in dire situations. Scripture is clear regarding the way God views our combined efforts as believers in prayer and intercession in Matthew chapter 18 when it says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” Exile from their communities, scorn from their families, and even threats of death from their governments are all daily battles that persecuted Christians around the world face and are active prayers points that you can refer to.

 

Advocate

We know to stay informed and to diligently be praying for those facing persecution around the world, but what else can be done? While actively going and serving these vulnerable people groups directly isn’t always a viable option, you can support those who are through vigorously advocating! Without being informed, how can anyone give to help? By speaking at your church, sharing what you know with your friends and family, and allowing the issue to not be locked away in your mind, you will be able to raise awareness, stir hearts, and create a lasting change. There is always more to say in this conversation, and by dedicating time to actively engage and advocate for those who can’t for themselves, you are playing a crucial role in impacting their lives. Scripture tells us in the book of Proverbs to ““Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” We at Alpha Ministries take this mandate seriously, and encourage you to do the same!

 

For those of us who believe and have accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we have a responsibility to stay informed, pray without ceasing, and advocate on behalf of those who are unable to defend themselves. While we may not always be able to lend over our time and resources, there are active responses we can diligently be engaging in on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. For more information, subscribe to our newsletter and be on the lookout for our continuing blog posts!