Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful, despite all the challenges this year has brought.
If you’ve been reading our updates, you know Harvest Bridge’s ministry has been focused on food distributions for those most in need during COVID-19 lockdowns, flood relief, hygiene and sanitation education, caring for children’s educational needs, prayer, remote evangelism and discipleship, and generally meeting people in their pain by showing Christ’s love in word and deed.
Many of the hundreds of pastors and missionaries we support have become sick with the virus. Most have lost loved ones, and church and community members, to COVID-19. Lockdowns led to the collapse of economic and social systems. In addition to the virus, the region saw its worst flooding in 30 years.
In this tragedy, most of our pastors and missionaries say this has been their most impactful year of ministry. As Pastor Jagan*, our leader in Bhutan, says,
“COVID-19 has increased interest in the Gospel. People have plenty of time with their thoughts now. There is a growing desire to know who God is. I do not believe we are in the end of days – we are in a time of revival.”
This increased interest in the Gospel in our network in South Asia was not a foregone conclusion.
Conscious decisions to love selflessly and live faithfully were made by the men and women you support. 2020 has shown clearly that when we take our eyes off ourselves and obey the two greatest commandments – love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40) – God can work in powerful ways. People had questions, and Christians acting like Christ – feeding the hungry regardless of caste or religion, praying for the sick and teaching hygiene lessons to prevent sickness, clothing those in need with personal protective equipment, comforting the bereaved – were who they could turn to. This Thanksgiving we are praising God for the fruits of this selflessness and faithfulness.
Below we share some of what our brothers and sisters are praising God for this year, interspersed with photos from their relief work this year.
In Bhutan, Pastor Kinley* says,
“Our fellowship members, despite their poverty, learned to give and care for each other. So during the lockdown we could bless 25 families in the neighbourhood with relief materials. With that we could share the love of God that made us go the extra mile. God’s love was portrayed to the neighbourhood community. We could develop good fellowship with these families and share the Gospel. I really learned how to pray for a long time and how to give when you don’t have too. I really thank God for His hand of provision.”
In Bhutan, Lungtok* describes how her children’s ministry deepened,
“During the last months there were so many challenges due to COVID-19, but as I visited I could develop a close relationship with the kids. The children were expressing themselves more openly in a very friendly way. The children were opening up their hearts and raised their doubts about God and questions about life. God gave me wisdom to clear those questions and doubts in a simple way that they can understand. That helped most of the children to become strong in the LORD. During this period the rapport among the parents was also well established. This is a new experience and new turn for a bright future ministry.”
Pastor Manek* in India says,
“Due to the national lockdown we were not able to move as we did in the past. But still God was gracious to us and we were able to do evangelism through social media, reaching a higher number of people. Praise God for social media and the ministry opportunities that have come due to Coronavirus.”
Sheela* in Bangladesh shares her experience:
“In this pandemic I could not go out for outreach work, but I tried to do outreach where I live. In my slum area there are a lot of neighbors who do not yet know Jesus. My coworker and I tried to share the Gospel, and 11 women began attending my class. Every week I sowed His word, and found that some have confessed they are sinners and dedicated their lives to the Lord. Two women became daughters of God, and now they have also become my close friends. They are taking His word to those who do not yet know Jesus. It is like 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, ‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.’”
Pastor Gupta* at the Nepal-Tibet border explains,
“In the last six months, we have been having only house fellowships among close people and people from the neighbourhood. They have been prayerful months, and we are having more fellowships and prayers. God has blessed us even during such a difficult time when many of us are unemployed, but He has been watching over us and making sure we do well.”
In Myanmar (Burma), Pastor Li* describes how COVID-19 has impacted his ministry:
“Because of COVID-19, we were not able to do the ministry as we wished. But the Lord still opens doors for me to share the Good News in my village. When the government announced a lockdown and we were not able to meet in our church, I was able to visit house-to-house. Everyone is full of fear with the pandemic. I also visited some of our neighbours who accepted me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I met more than 15 new people where I live. They were greatly interested in salvation and the Word of God because all of them are not sure about where they will go after they die. Among them, four people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. No new church was started in these months, but the Lord added more new believers in our church. Praise the Lord!”
Pastor San* in Myanmar (Burma) reflects,
“By the grace of God, for the past six months my co-workers and I spent time together in prayer. We shared our visions and our experiences together and it was such a sweet fellowship, though the churches have been closed since the middle of March.”
Bashira* in Bangladesh shares,
“During this time we could not go out to share the Good News. But my co-worker Sala* and I kept praying to the Lord for new believers every evening before dark. As this continued, many of the nonbelievers, many of them Hindus, were watching us. One day we were praying with tears that God would end the pandemic, as many are dying in Bangladesh. These non-believing neighbors heard what we were praying, and after we finished a few felt in their heart that they also needed to surrender to saving faith in Jesus. They knew they needed to be forgiven through what they had heard in our prayers. As I shared and discussed with them, nine out of the fifteen women who were home came to the Lord through the blessing of the Holy Spirit. They are still waiting for Holy Baptism. Prayers have the power to change the heart, as we saw the Holy Spirit working in their hearts.”
Pastor Kibu* in Bhutan says,
“We always used to fear our neighbors, as they always have complained about our singing and many people coming to the house. We went through much harassment. But in the month of April when the lockdown was intensive, we prayed and got strengthened to sing and share the Gospel to the neighbors. Many of our neighbors were regretting complaining about us to the authorities, as they realized that we are praying for our neighbors regularly. A bond of love among the neighbors got developed in this period.”
Pastor Manoj* in the Andaman Islands explains,
“Coronavirus put the whole world in stagnation and made us realize everything will stop eventually, except God. We may stand still, but God works always. It took us closer to God and understanding His truth in the Bible. We as a church took this lockdown period in prayer. We did 50 days of chain prayer – it was a blessed time and many miracles happened.”
Lastly, Pastor Samson* in Andaman Islands reflects on the good and the hard aspects of this year,
“This lockdown taught me good things and bad things. Good thing is that I spent more time in Bible reading and prayer. I was able to complete the full Bible reading three times. Many of God’s revelations, I could understand in this period. We could see God’s providence in this difficult situation. According to Psalm 34:10 – we lack for nothing. Bad things we experienced was not moving out and being hidden in the house itself. It was a great tragedy. Many people suffered during this period for food. Even they were not able to go to their houses, those who came for jobs from the mainland and other islands. We learned a lesson from this; God is there in all situations, so put our faith on Him and lead a life of witness.”
We pray that in this difficult and pivotal year, that you too have much to be thankful for. Your role in praying and giving to this work has been crucial in 2020. Thank you.
*Names changed for safety