The season of Lent, a period of preparation leading up to Easter, has probably been practiced in some form since apostolic times, though it wasn’t formalized until the early fourth century. In recent years, I’ve come to appreciate Lent’s ability to assist us in preparing to celebrate Easter.
The Lenten practice of giving up something good in order to focus more easily on something better – Christ Himself – can aid us in reorienting our lives toward what matters most. Sacrifices we choose to make during Lent call to mind the immensely greater sacrifice Jesus made for us, and put our hardships in perspective.
Working for Harvest Bridge gives me the privilege of seeing the mysteries that Lent is meant to remind us of lived out fruitfully in the lives of Christians on both sides of the globe.
Harvest Bridge exists to be a bridge between Christ’s followers in Western countries and in South Asia. Supporting God’s work in Asia is one important function of this bridge, but it so much more than that.
The bridge has lanes running in both directions.
Christians in the West can learn a great deal from our South Asian brothers and sisters, and there is much that Western Christians can teach our Asian brethren as well. As one global Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13), we are called to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thess. 5:11). This needs to happen locally, but it must also take place on a global scale if the Body of Christ is to fulfill her Lord’s commission.
Through your partnership, Harvest Bridge plays an important role in enabling Christians who live in very different parts of the world – but belong to the same family – to learn from and lift up one another.
Take Brother Mang* in Myanmar (Burma), who served in the Burma Army for 30 years, and came to faith after being thrown in jail and seeing a vision of Jesus while in prison.
In the years since his release, his ministry among the country’s majority people group, the Burmese, has seen over 70 people become followers of Christ from an ethnic group that typically resists the Gospel strongly. As a result, he has faced beatings, court hearings, deprivation of basic needs, and other trials. Yet he says,
“In 2005, I was tortured for Christ by the military government. I was beaten unconscious more than ten times and imprisoned for six months. But I still serve the Lord and will serve until I die. Many of the times I faced opposition, the Lord protected and strengthened me.”
Lenten fasting and abstinence are meant to renew our focus on Jesus and our relationship with Him. Brother Mang is a living, breathing example of the fruitfulness that is possible when we set our focus on the Lord.
But again, the bridge has lanes in both directions. For example, HB’s Asian partners often share how encouraged they are by our American staff, Board members, donors, and volunteers who choose to leave the comforts of home to give of themselves and serve alongside their brothers and sisters in South Asia.
Your generosity in supporting and praying for our partners’ ministries is a great encouragement and lesson for them as well.
One of our Pakistani partners recently wrote,
“I want to thank HB for helping me with its kind gift. Although it’s not money and the things of the world that matter most; it’s the assurance that someone cares for you. I was so happy and encouraged when Pastor Samuel* told me that someone from the ministry in the US was touched by my story and wanted to share in it.”
As Lent draws to a close and Easter Sunday approaches, may we be ever-mindful of the mysteries of the Christian faith, of our Lord who loves us so much that He suffered with us and for us, and of the ways we can both bless the global Church and be blessed by it.
Director of International Partnerships
*Names changed for security