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Advancing the Kingdom in Kashmir

Without a doubt, the highlight of my visit to South Asia last month was my stay in Kashmir, a beautiful region that is disputed between India, Pakistan and China. 

The Indian-administered part of Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in Hindu-majority India.

When Britain left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, partitioning it into India and Pakistan, the ruler of Kashmir hesitated about which nation to join. Pakistan tried to take Kashmir by force, and India offered to help on the condition that Kashmir join India. Consequently, the region became contested. 

Three of the four wars fought between India and Pakistan have been over Kashmir. Kashmir’s natural resources and strategic location further boost its desirability. Its people have suffered greatly as pawns in a game of geopolitical chess. 

Earlier this month, in the latest “chess move”, India revoked Article 370, a constitutional provision which granted Kashmir substantial autonomy and helped preserve its distinct character by restricting the ability of outsiders to buy land or move there. India claims it revoked Article 370 to promote economic development, but locals fear this is the first step toward diluting Kashmir’s demographics in an effort to quell local separatist movements.

My heart breaks for Kashmir, in part because my experience there was the exact opposite of how it is portrayed in the media. 

I was met with warm hospitality, safety, and the opportunity to see God at work in so many encouraging ways.

Christians make up less than 0.3 percent of Indian-administered Kashmir’s population. 

They are effectively second-class citizens in a region where even the Muslim majority suffers in numerous ways due to India’s heavy-handed policies. Despite these obstacles, Harvest Bridge’s Kashmiri partners are amazing, resilient people who do inspiring work. Space permits me to highlight only a few examples. 

Pastor Peter*, the leader of our Kashmiri partners, came to faith in Christ 24 years ago after growing up in a Muslim sect that worships at the tombs of Islamic saints. He went on to earn a doctorate and now travels around India teaching comparative religion at universities – along with his involvement in Kashmiri Christian radio, publishing Christian literature, and leading a missionary network that labors to advance the Gospel in every sphere of Kashmiri society. 

He has been jailed three times, accosted by an angry mob, and falsely accused of serving pig’s blood in Communion. Yet he radiates joy and a contagious sense of humor. 

So many people we met spoke enthusiastically of the enormous positive impact Pastor Peter has made in their lives.

One such person is Brother Javed*, an imposing man who wears the beard and clothing characteristic of a mullah (Islamic scholar). 

Islam permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, so when he fell in love with a Christian woman, his family did not oppose their marriage. He tried to convert her to Islam, but changed his mind after learning about Christianity’s teachings. His wife was from the same town as Pastor Peter, which brought Javed into contact with Peter. 

After 13 years of Gospel proclamation and demonstration from his wife, Pastor Peter and others, Javed came to faith. His family cut off contact with him as a result, and he now runs a tea stall for a living instead of working the comfortable government job he previously held. 

He continues to dress like a mullah, which opens numerous doors for ministry that are closed to others.

Then there’s Brother Fahad*. 

Born and raised Muslim, Fahad enjoyed reading religious scriptures as a boy. He read so much that he developed a reputation as a learned mullah (Islamic scholar) by age 17. He read about other faiths too, but their religious texts were difficult to obtain in the Kashmir Valley. One day he found a New Testament on the road, and read it cover-to-cover within a few days. 

After reading Hindu and Baha’i scriptures as well, he left Islam and became agnostic. When Kashmir received internet access, he began watching videos of Christian philosophers and apologists like Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. 

Through these videos, he came to faith in Christ.

Young and fearless, he began debating openly with mullahs, atheists, and members of other faiths. He can easily share his faith because of his reputation as a scholar, but he routinely faces opposition from local mullahs. 

Staggeringly he held Christian beliefs for 14 years before meeting another Kashmiri Christian – an indication of how few there are. In 2014, he met Pastor Peter, who baptized him.

Fahad is now the voice of a Kashmiri-language Christian radio station run by our Kashmir partners; its broadcasts reach both the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir.  

Peter, Javed, Fahad, and so many others like them are the people you support when you partner with Harvest Bridge. 

Our Kashmiri missionaries vividly demonstrate Harvest Bridge’s ministry model: coming alongside local South Asian Christians who are doing much with little, and who know how best to reach their people for Christ.

Please pray for Kashmir – for peace, resolution of its political problems, and the needs of its people to be holistically met. 

Thank you for equipping us to advance God’s work in Kashmir and throughout South Asia.

God bless,

Andrew David, 

Director of International Partnerships

*Names changed for security

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Five Years of Tears, Joy, and Lessons

I’ve grown up with the men and women Harvest Bridge comes alongside in South Asia. Much like the story of Harvest Bridge’s formation, my story of joining the mission is one that was supernaturally led by God. 

The summer before enrolling at Grove City College, God gave me clear instruction and a vision to work with the existing South Asian and Middle Eastern Church – specifically to join them in reaching their own people for Christ. Sound familiar?

Almost exactly a month later, in my first days at college, I met Dr. Tim Mech and heard the vision of Harvest Bridge. After two and a half years of volunteering and spending parts of two summers in South Asia, I came on board full-time with Harvest Bridge when I graduated in 2014. 

Since then, I have had the privilege of learning from and joining hands with our brothers and sisters in the South Asian church. So many tears, moments of joy, and lessons in the last five years! 

Tears have come while holding hands in prayer with a young pastor who was recently released from prison, having been arrested for his faith in Myanmar (Burma).

Tears came while washing the feet of two of our missionaries in Bangladesh, Mamun* and Tabitha*, whose daughter had been brutally attacked because of their ministry.

Tears came upon seeing the physical wounds left on so many of our missionaries due to attacks from persecutors.

And when sitting with Maloti*, the elderly widow of one of our missionaries in India, who has continued in her husband’s work despite her grief and many obstacles. 

Joy has come while taking part in an assembly at a school in India run by several of our missionaries, where Muslim, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist students and teachers are welcomed, but are learning about the true Gospel together.

There has been joy in joining countless prayer and praise meetings with South Asian women, where we worshipped together as sisters in Christ.

Joy in witnessing the baptism and first communion of dozens of new believers in Bangladesh, and handing them their first Bible.

And joy in reading through thousands of testimonies of former Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists experiencing new life in Jesus.

And one of the many lessons is that God is using these men and women we support to reach South Asia in ways He has specifically equipped them for. There are the obvious reasons for this – as locals in the countries they serve, they intimately understand the language and the culture, they live on a similar income level as the people around them, and their physical appearance does not draw unnecessary attention or distract from the Gospel.

An even greater reason, and what I’ve seen as a foreigner in South Asia, is that the Gospel makes a deeper impact when it comes from the mouth of someone who has something to lose – especially in the countries we work, where persecution is common.

Imagine you are a Bangladeshi Muslim woman.

You hear the Gospel and are interested, but you don’t give it much thought because you know the consequences of following Jesus. Your family is likely to reject you. You may be verbally and physically abused. You could have a difficult time holding a job due to discrimination. 

Essentially, everything that makes life worth living would be pulled out from under you. 

How much more likely are you to be convinced that Jesus is worth it, that He is the truth, if you hear it from another Bangladeshi, formerly Muslim woman? Someone who gave up all those things and is now joyfully risking her own safety to tell you about Jesus. Someone who has counted the cost and is prepared to help you do the same.

As I reflect on five years with Harvest Bridge and look towards the future, I am deeply thankful God gave me that vision eight years ago for working with the local church in South Asia. Local Christians are the ones who are uniquely able to reach their own people for Christ, and it is our role and privilege to come alongside that work. Praise God!

In Christ,

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization

*Names changed for safety

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Turbulent Times, Unshakable Hope

Thank you for your prayers and support in 2018! It was a rollercoaster of a year – not only in parts of the world that tend to dominate Western news headlines, but also in the countries where Harvest Bridge operates. 

Yet God is faithful; our South Asian partners accomplished much for the kingdom last year, despite turbulent changes in their nations.

2018 saw elections in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan. 

Bangladesh’s election, held on December 30th, resulted in a landslide victory for the ruling party but was marred by violence and claims of vote rigging. Rioting has subsided, but it is uncertain what long-term impact the election will have for the Muslim-majority country’s religious minorities – including Christians, who compose less than one percent of the population. 

Please join us in praying for Bangladesh, and for HB’s 51 indigenous missionaries who serve in difficult places throughout the country.

Unsurprisingly, October’s election in the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan received little coverage in the West.

Few mission agencies have a presence in this Buddhist-majority nation where less than one percent of the population follows Christ, but HB has 20 indigenous missionaries working throughout the country. Absolute monarchy ended in Bhutan only eleven years ago; the 2018 election was the third of its kind, and it brought in a new ruling party. 

Our Bhutan leader informed us the changing political climate has led to increased pressure on the small-but-growing Bhutanese church. We are monitoring the situation, and with your help, we will respond to persecution that is likely to occur this year.

Pakistan’s general election, held in July, also brought change. 

The party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan emerged victorious on the national stage for the first time, with Khan becoming Prime Minister. Amid allegations that Pakistan’s powerful military swayed the results in favor of its preferred winner, the country’s marginalized Christian communities continue to live under duress, and it remains to be seen if the new government will bring positive change. 

Regardless, HB’s Pakistani partners continue to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel through strategic outreach and community development programs, in a context where living out one’s Christian faith can exact an enormous cost.

Political turbulence in the Buddhist-majority island nation of Sri Lanka took a different form; in October, the country became embroiled in a crisis in which two men claimed to be Prime Minister simultaneously. Resolution only took place with the Supreme Court’s intervention. 

In Nepal, Christians and other minorities remain concerned about the country’s new constitution, which effectively criminalizes sharing one’s faith. 

Meanwhile, as Myanmar (Burma) rightly makes international headlines over the Rohingya refugee crisis, lesser-known conflicts between the Myanmar army and various ethnic-minority separatist groups continue to affect millions, including many of our missionaries in the nation’s hinterlands.

Looking ahead, elections are due in India in May. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power in 2014; since then, Modi’s ties to Hindu nationalist groups have emboldened these groups to step up their opposition to the country’s non-Hindus, especially Muslims and Christians. There are some signs of discontent with Modi’s policies, but he and the BJP are likely to remain in power – and the situation for minorities may grow worse.

While the outlook for 2019 can appear bleak both in South Asia and elsewhere, our faith provides an unshakeable hope. 

As one of my favorite Psalms indicates, we have nothing to fear when the Lord Almighty is with us (Ps. 46:1-2). Nations are in uproar, but God is greater and oversees all things (Ps. 46:6-10). The advance of God’s kingdom is not dependent upon favorable political conditions, security, or stability – and as we follow Christ, He promises to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:19-20). 

So we embark on our labors in 2019 with hope, knowing God will continue to direct His work in South Asia, no matter what turbulent circumstances may arise. Thank you for the crucial part you play in this task!

Happy New Year,

Andrew David, 

Director of International Partnerships 

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Our Savior and Our Comfort

Miriam*, a widow in northern India, is in her early 70s. Her late husband Benjamin* was one of the first missionaries Harvest Bridge began supporting, nearly 10 years ago. After a life well lived, Benjamin passed away suddenly three years ago. Even in her grief, Miriam has continued her husband’s ministry. 

Already looked down upon for being poor and a Christian, Miriam became all the more ostracized in a society that regularly dehumanizes widows. Not only did society push her away, but, her extended family rejected her, discouraging her from ministry. 

When I was with her earlier this year, she was very honest about the hardship and pain she has experienced while grieving the loss of Benjamin. As we held hands in prayer, crying together, the words of Hebrews 4:14-16 came to mind, as they often do in times like this:

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

As her sister in Christ, I could offer love and sympathy to Miriam, but never could I or anyone else truly step into her shoes and fully bear that burden with her. 

But Jesus, our great High Priest, can. 

Who else could enter and heal this brokenness better? Who else, other than our God who, for a time, walked on earth, fully human and fully God? 

Jesus, who was not only tempted by Satan himself and then separated from God while on the cross, but who was also rejected by much of his family, hated by many, grew up in poverty in a disrespected town, and died a brutally painful and humiliating death. 

Jesus, who while being human, was also fully God, and so was able to see into the depth of sin and pain in the lives of those around Him. 

Jesus, who can sympathize with our weakness and welcomes us to come to Him boldly.

That is the God we pray to, the God that Miriam was able to cry out to when no one else could understand her pain. This is who all of our national missionaries and followers of Jesus around the world cry out to. When they too are rejected by family for their faith, when they are physically stoned because of sharing the Gospel, when they do not know where their next meal will come from, when they are tempted to give up.

In a recent update from Miriam, she wrote, 

“I am doing the ministry in remote villages…there are a lot of ups and downs, and many times I am feeling much discouragement by the situation around me. But the word of God is giving me strength to go forward with more enthusiasm, power, and courage…all my relatives left and were discouraging me to leave the ministry. But I have decided to follow Jesus till the death and do the ministry which my husband left and handed to me…God is helping me in every aspect of my life, especially in this critical situation of my husband’s death. This is my humble desire and vision that even in this situation, I want to become a great godly woman, an example for many families, and be faithful in this hard situation until the last day of my life.”

That is a perspective only possible through knowing our Lord. 

This Christmas season, I am reminded that when our God came to earth as a humble baby to save us for eternity, He also became our greatest source of comfort and strength in this life. 

And I am thankful that as part of the Body of Christ, you are the hands and feet of Jesus in supporting our many South Asian brothers and sisters like Miriam as they serve Him. Thank you! Merry Christmas!

In Christ,

Kate Therese, 

Director of Mobilization 

*Names changed for security

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Thankful for God’s Presence

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking about the recent deliverance of Asha*, a young woman in Nepal. 

Twenty-three-year-old Asha lived in hell. 

From the age of five, she spent most of her days trembling and weeping in a corner. Occasionally, Asha would scream for no apparent reason. She bit and clawed anyone who approached her. Asha grew up friendless and without schooling.

One day, our missionary Bijay* told Asha’s parents about Christ. They were outraged, and threatened Bijay. (Evangelism is punishable by five years in prison in Nepal.) Despite their anger at Bijay, Asha’s parents were desperate and promised to give him a hearing if Jesus healed their daughter. 

When Bijay approached Asha to pray for her, she attacked him. As he prayed, she became still. By the end of his prayer, Asha was unconscious. Asha’s parents were alarmed and furious, and they cursed Bijay. Later, to her parents’ amazement, Asha awoke in her right mind! 

Imagine their surprise when she apologized to her family for the pain her illness had caused them. 

Asha soon found Bijay, thanked him and told him that she wanted to accept the Lord who healed her. Since then, Asha’s family has welcomed Bijay into their home to teach them about Jesus. Asha is now preparing to be baptized.

Asha’s healing brought great thanksgiving, not only to Asha’s family, but to Bijay and the local church. This was not only because everyone was happy for Asha and her family, but also because they knew God was present among them and had heard their prayers. 

Whether or not we see dramatic miracles, there is always a holy joy when we know that God is present and at work among us.

Asha was healed because Bijay obeyed and trusted Christ. This pattern is repeated millions of times every day, all around the world. Christ-followers have been pioneers in starting hospitals, universities, drug treatment centers, homeless centers, and youth programs that have transformed countless lives. 

Many of these organizations no longer bear Christ’s name, while others are Christian in name only. Deep pocketed funders and discriminatory laws continually pressure organizations like ours to leave their faith behind, especially in South Asia. Of course, we will not do that. Christ did not send us out on our own to do good deeds, but called us to join with Him to change lives.

If we cease to trust Christ, we can offer human compassion, but cannot introduce others to the joy of knowing Christ.

As you know, one of the names of Christ is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Mt. 1:23). As we count our blessings this Thanksgiving, Immanuel, “God with us,” is at the top of my list.

God was present from the start of Harvest Bridge, when He called us to start it from nothing. God was present as He guided us and created the partnerships on which it is built. God’s presence is still evident among us, in both quiet, inconspicuous ways, and through mighty miracles like Asha’s.

Thank you for being part of this divine adventure. We hope you take pleasure not only from the thousands of people who benefit from this ministry, but also from the knowledge that God is behind it all. 

You, we, and our partners around the world are part of Christ’s Body. Even when we face hardship and cannot find the silver linings in our own circumstances, we can be the silver lining in someone else’s, because Christ leads us and empowers us.

It is our prayer for you, this Thanksgiving, that you have confidence in Christ’s care for you and rejoice in His partnership with you. We also pray for God’s presence in resolving the problems you face, whether inconspicuously and gradually, or immediately and miraculously, so that you can rejoice both in His presence and in the practical help He has given you.

Blessings in Christ,

Tim M., President

 *Names changed & photo blurred for safety

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Serving with Peace and Joy

My recent visit with our partner Pastor Samuel* from Myanmar (Burma) reminded me the secret of serving God fruitfully, with peace and joy. 

Before sharing the key, let me tell you a little about Pastor Samuel. 

With few resources, Samuel and his wife Martha* care for their two biological children and 18 other children in need. Since 2000, approximately 100 children have benefited from their loving care. 

In addition, Samuel operates a small Christian book publishing business that has translated and printed 26 books, with another 29 books ready to print as funds become available. To help make ends meet, Pastor Samuel teaches at three Bible colleges, where he earns a total of only $15 per month. 

He now leads a team of 29 missionaries, mostly former students, who serve in some of the most dangerous, unreached parts of the country.

No one who knew Samuel as a child could have predicted the direction his life took. Samuel was born into a poor family of low social status in the highlands of northern Myanmar. At age 14, he migrated on foot into neighboring India in search of work.

Over the next decade, Samuel had several opportunities to build a prosperous life outside of Myanmar, including business ventures in India and the offer of asylum in the United Kingdom. Instead, he went to seminary, earned money through diligent work, and saved all he could to prepare for his return to Myanmar. 

Even now, Samuel and his family live simply on rice and lentils. The only meat in their diet is a weekly serving of chicken soup. 

In spite of his sacrifices, there is not a trace of regret or self-righteousness in Samuel. He is cheerful and at peace.

Samuel discovered the key to Christian living at age 15. Though raised by Christian parents, Samuel had the misconception that he had to earn God’s favor through good works. In spite of his best efforts, Samuel felt that he always fell short. This changed when he digested Ephesians 2:8-9 for the first time, and realized that his anxious striving to be acceptable to God was futile and unnecessary.

We are saved by God’s grace, not our works!

Samuel shed the burden of trying to earn God’s approval and was able to receive, for the first time, God’s unconditional love. 

He knew he was not alone in feeling burdened by his sins and imperfections, so he resolved to return to Myanmar to proclaim God’s grace and to live with grace toward others. Despite the challenges and meager resources, he is now happy and free.

Many of us, like Pastor Samuel, have struggled with feelings of inadequacy. We try to live morally and do good deeds but we know we are imperfect and may feel that we are unacceptable to God. I know firsthand that these feelings are very painful and can cause us to withdraw from God.

The antidote, as Samuel discovered, is to thoroughly digest the Biblical message of grace. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)!

As Pastor Samuel’s life illustrates, our acceptance of God’s grace increases our capacity to give. Grace opens our eyes to God’s love for us and sets us free from insecurity, so we can extend God’s love to others.

We can’t thank you enough for your partnership in loving God and others through your prayers and support of HB. To come alongside Pastor Samuel’s ministry, please write “Pastor Samuel” on donations made by check, or give below to the General Myanmar (Burma) Ministry fund.

Grace and peace in Christ,

Tim M., President

*Names changed for safety

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See a Need and Meet it

“If you can’t help 100 people, then just feed one.” ~ Mother Teresa

In January I spent time with two indigenous missionaries in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital of 19 million people and the fastest-growing, most densely populated city in the world. One missionary was a 28-year old single man, Raj*, the other, a middle-aged woman who is married with children, Saroj*. Great things have come from this unlikely pairing.

They were introduced by our Bangladesh director a few years ago, and they realized they both had a God-given burden, willingness, and availability to protect children from trafficking. 

Saroj and Raj saw a need and decided to meet it. 

Simply defined, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against their will.

Together, and with no help except for the modest monthly support they receive from us, Raj and Saroj rescue children, both girls and boys, from train and bus stations where many children are trafficked through. Depending on the situation – why the child was trafficked, their age, if the child knows where they came from, if they have physical injuries – these two help bring them back to their families or settle them in trusted children’s homes.

In the last few years, Saroj and Raj have rescued over 70 children, sometimes with help from the police but mostly on their own. And they continue to have a relationship with many of the children. Raj regularly visits the children, reading to them, playing with them, and advocating for them.

As the eighth most populated country in the world with about 165 million people, and bordering India and Myanmar (Burma) – two other hot spots for trafficking – Bangladesh has both a large supply and large demand for vulnerable women, children, and men. Children are particularly vulnerable; typically, they are kidnapped, or traffickers convince impoverished families to send their children with them with a promise of well-paying work and a better life for the child.

As a 2015 article observes, “In Bangladesh, human trafficking is one of the most money-making forms of illegitimate enterprise. The high profit, as well as the low penalty nature of human trafficking business, has made it more attractive to traffickers (criminal gangs) and as well as very large-scale organized crime in Bangladesh.” 

With trafficking being such a lucrative business, directly rescuing children out of it is highly dangerous and difficult.

This is exactly what Raj and Saroj are doing.

Both bear physical scars of being attacked by pimps and traffickers. 

When I hugged Saroj in January, I could see a fresh wound on her head from being hit with a glass bottle by a trafficker. Traffickers regularly come to threaten Saroj and her family at home, and last month she went to jail for three days because one of the traffickers was a relative of a powerful and corrupt man in Dhaka. 

When I met him, Raj had recently been attacked by a large group, intent on protecting their commodity – children. He has since continued to be beaten regularly. 

Neither Raj nor Saroj has any intention of stopping their work, regardless of the cost. As our Bangladesh director has observed, “Saroj is overlooking this browbeating and she and Raj are still continuing in the name of Jesus.” 

The tears in their voices as they spoke to me about vulnerable children reflected this commitment. As did their humility as they shared, “We saw these children and nothing was being done. So we had to do something. But we want to know how to do it better. We need to be trained to rescue and care for these children better.”

Speaking to them this week, Saroj and Raj shared clear prayer requests. They want to either start or, if one already exists, work with a shelter home specifically for children who have been traumatized by trafficking. Along with this, they want to both educate vulnerable children on the dangers and signs of trafficking, and teach them how to advocate for themselves. 

They are passionate about giving children a voice. 

Harvest Bridge is currently working to partner with other organizations who can help Raj and Saroj with their vision. We would deeply appreciate your prayers in this as well. 

Speaking about human trafficking is disturbing because it shines a light on almost unimaginable suffering. The horrors of trafficking are real. Horrors that many of us are not willing to enter into mentally, let alone physically. Yet there are people addressing these issues, and they are usually locals who don’t stop to broadcast their good work. They just do it. 

As we find these people, let’s celebrate them, emulate them, and join them in any way we can!

As followers of Christ, we have the same Holy Spirit as the disciples, as Paul, as Raj and Saroj. Let us, like them, rely on this power and simply be available to be used by God.

Harvest Bridge’s mission is to come alongside indigenous Christians to holistically advance God’s kingdom. By supporting us, you specifically support Raj and Saroj, but also many other men and women like them. 

Thank you!

In Christ, 

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization

*Names changed for safety

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People, not Populations

As I pore through six month reports from our South Asian missionaries, A.W. Tozer’s wisdom comes to mind: 

“God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men.” 

Reading through stories of persecution, miracles, prayers and answers to prayer, six-month goals, and current ministry emphases is a reminder of how unique each of our missionaries and their ministries are. Here are a few examples of their diverse ministries, all of which seek to share the Gospel, disciple believers, and demonstrate the love of Christ:

“I serve the street children and slum children who are vulnerable to being trafficked between Bangladesh and India using different trains and buses. I mainly serve the victims of trafficking by keeping them safe from the smugglers’ traps. I bring them to a shelter where my friends and I care for them and teach them about the Christian faith, working to heal their wounds so they can live normal lives.” ~ Stephen* in Bangladesh


“I do ministry among the young people most of the time…I conducted evangelistic outreach programs where I took all our young believers to preach among people who did not know about this Good News. I have conducted 12 youth fellowships and three evangelistic outreach programs. In these meetings I got an opportunity to preach to more and more people and share the Good News to many people. Also, many new youths joined our fellowship in the past six months….

My ministry is going on well. I have started a free tutoring service to children who go to public schools. There were only 5-6 children in the beginning, and now there are 27 children coming to the classes…

Eight house fellowships have been started in the last six months. Since we were not a very large number, we decided to plant house fellowships. As soon as the number grows, I’m planning to plant a church where all the believers can worship together. ” 

~ Adam* in Nepal


“During the last six months I have been able to organize 12 awareness programs for women. What we do is create awareness among women for secular and Biblical education, because women in Pakistan need to understand their importance and they need to recognize their role and responsibility as women of God. By God’s grace, through our programs, women were educated in their rights and also in Biblical education. We were able to form two new women’s groups which are like cell churches. What they do is meet together twice a month, and we pray and encourage women about their importance in society and in the Bible…

…For a long time, I have been praying to go into an area where people considered women as important as the sole of their feet. This area is a village where people are backward and old-minded. I had a contact in this area, another woman who was willing to help me do an awareness program in that area. But she was so scared of the men there, especially the ones who are old and have some authority over the local people. I had been continuously asking her to help me, but she did not agree. About four months ago, she came to me and told me that she wanted the women in her town to speak for their rights. This happened after her husband beat her and she was fed up. This is sad, but for me it was a miracle because I was continuously looking and desiring for an opportunity there. God is good.” 

~ Faith* in Pakistan


“I am serving as the leader of the team [in Bangladesh], sharing His Gospel and bringing new souls for the Lord. I am meeting sometimes with missionaries, sometimes with the non-believers, sometimes the local leaders, and sometimes the Government officials. The main goal is to share and rejoice in His name on high, as He commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20. I am doing this among a lot of communities as His servant. I am leading worship in many places, where I share about faith, spiritual warfare, the Holy Spirit, the Living Lord and Eternal Peace, and that Jesus is the Almighty and King of Kings. Discipleship and church planting has continued in many areas also.” ~ Daniel* in Bangladesh  


Your support is crucial to our ability to come alongside these South Asian believers as they reach their own people with the Gospel in the most effective ways possible. You can give below, on our Ways to Give page, or by sending a check to the address at the end of this page. 

In Christ, 

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization 

 *Names changed for security


Update on Pastor James: Thank you for your prayers and support of our Asia Director, Pastor James! After a month in the hospital, including over a week in the ICU, he was sent home at the beginning of May. He is now being cared for at home by a nurse and his family. His nurse has professed faith in Christ since she began caring for him!

Patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome typically take 6-12 months to fully recover, but doctors estimate that Pastor James will be healthy enough to perform normal daily activities in 2-3 weeks. Without your prayers and financial support, it would’ve been impossible for him to receive proper care. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus, bringing love and healing to your brother in Christ!

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The Heart of Missions

Serve the LORD with gladness! ~ Psalm 100:2


My visit to Myanmar (Burma) last month started off on the wrong foot. From a human perspective, we were focused and productive, but I lost sight of the heart of what we do.

Thankfully, on my visit to a children’s home Harvest Bridge supports, God used the laughter and singing of children to reawaken me to the beauty and joy of serving Him, and I recalled that the kingdom of God is not just about miles traveled or the number of people reached, but “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). 

With my eyes refocused on the heart of missions, I was ready to learn from the amazing people I met.

When he became a Christian, Yaza* left the army, where he was a highly decorated officer, and became a missionary who faced much persecution. Yaza confided, “In the army, I received many medals, but none made me happy. Serving God makes me happy, even if I receive nothing.” 

We enter into the joy of Christ by serving Him (Mat. 25:21, 23).

Youth are liberated from drugs and find freedom in Christ at Pastor Nanda’s* church. Nanda told me that lively Christian music and hope are keys to their recovery. Perhaps this is why Paul encouraged people prone to alcohol abuse – and the rest of us – to “make music in [their] hearts to the Lord… with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:18-20).” 

Joyful songs of praise help us break free from sin!

Nyein* was despondent and self-critical, but his face lit up with joy as he recounted how God has watched over him. Once, when he was lost in the jungle, a lion actually guided him to the village, blocking the wrong paths and leading him in the right direction! 

Meeting Nyein reminded me that the antidote to self-doubt is to look away from our weaknesses and gaze upon the surpassing greatness and goodness of God (Phil. 4:13).

The joy of the Lord is crucial not only for our own sakes, but because joy strengthens us for service (Neh. 8:10) and allows us to better reflect the heart of God to others. 

If you haven’t thought about this in a while, I encourage you to reread what the apostles taught on the subject. They faced incredible challenges and hardships, but never lost sight of the amazing privilege of serving God. 

Even after speaking about trials, Peter writes, “you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). Paul yearns for us to know “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). 

In their epistles, the apostles repeatedly urge us to cultivate peace and joy in our own lives, and they tell us how:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:4-9

As Easter approaches, now is a good time for us to remember that Jesus not only died for our sins, but rose again so that we could have new lives (Rom. 6:4), animated by the Spirit and growing in love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22). 

Surely this doesn’t exempt us from troubles, but we do not lose heart, for inwardly we are renewed (2 Cor. 4:16).

Have a joyous Easter!

Tim M., President

*Names changed for security.

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Stories

Hope From Within

Last month, I was worshipping with pastors and missionaries in Sri Lanka in an area that had been devastated by the country’s 30-year civil war, a war in which conservative estimates report at least 150,000 people died, the majority being civilians.

The bullets stopped in 2010, but the scars are deep.

Our missionaries in Sri Lanka prioritize ministry to the many women and children who were widowed and orphaned by the war. In one church alone, one of our female missionaries runs a widows’ ministry with about 75 women. Nearly all our Sri Lankan missionaries incorporate some kind of orphan care into their ministry.

In addition to emotional and psychological scars, many of our missionaries have physical scars from the conflict. 

One of our partners, a 27-year old pastor, miraculously survived stepping on a landmine when he was 15 years old. It was while he was healing from his extensive injuries, and mourning the loss of his parents and most of his siblings soon afterward, that he cried out to Jesus and gave his life to God.

The amount of death and pain these missionaries and the people to whom they minister have seen is overwhelming. It’s a reminder of how important it is to support local believers in serving their communities. Sometimes the only people who can comfort you and pull you out of the darkest of times are people who have gone through the same pain, and can say, “There’s hope”.

While traveling in India on the same trip, I visited five of our supported pastors in the state of Odisha, formerly called Orissa. One of the churches I visited had been burnt to the ground by Hindu radicals 10 years ago. Riots in this area led to many churches being burned, several Christians being killed, and dozens of pastors left severely injured. 

Several of those pastors are now supported by us. 

The church has been rebuilt completely by believers in that village, who used their own extremely limited resources. Amazingly, some of the men who burned the church down are now attending another nearby church, also planted by one of our pastors!

The men came to follow Jesus after long years of these pastors and other Christians sharing the Gospel, showing them love, and offering forgiveness when they finally asked for it.

This love and forgiveness would not have carried the same weight in these men’s lives if it had not been offered by local Christians, the ones who had been hurt by their terrorism. Another reminder of the importance of building up the local church to reach their own people for Christ.

They were able to speak truth and love in a way that no one else could.

Also on this trip, I spent time in Bangladesh visiting rural villages where early childhood education programs are being started. These are communities where parents are doing comparatively well if, between the two of them, they earn $4 a day from working in rice paddies or farming shrimp. For various reasons, it is rare for any child to be educated in these communities, and it’s nearly unheard of for a girl to go to school. 

These communities are steeped in a tradition of superstition and prejudice, making change seem impossible. However, many of the pastors we support grew up in these communities. Coming from that same background of poverty and superstition, they, more than anyone, can prove there is another way. That the cycle can be broken, and that families can not only benefit from education, but find freedom in Christ. 

In short, our indigenous ministry partners have the credibility to affect meaningful change in these villages. 

When you support Harvest Bridge, you are supporting men and women who are uniquely able to reach their communities and countries for Christ. Our focus will always be to equip the local church to reach their own people for Christ as effectively as possible. 

Thank you for joining us in this!

In Christ, 

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization