In 1995, Janelle told me about K. P. Yohannan and his ministry, Gospel for Asia. She loaned me a book, Revolution in World Missions by Yohannan, which I quickly forgot about until New Years Day, 1996. Since I had nowhere to go on that holiday and no TV to watch football bowl games, I hunkered down and read the book.
Yohannan wrote in one part how overwhelmed he felt by the size of India and his meager resources. He cried out to the Lord and eventually the Lord spoke the following to his heart:
“I am not in any trouble that I need someone to beg for Me. I made no promises I will not keep to you. It is not the largeness of the work that matters, but only doing what I command. All I ask of you is that you be a servant. For all who join with you in the work, it will be a privilege − a light burden for them.”
The Lord’s response so blessed me I wrote the words in my Bible. Although Carol and I began sponsoring a GFA missionary in 2006, I paid little attention to the ministry, except for a few glances at the words written in my Bible.
Fast forward until 2011 when we received a free copy in the mail of No Longer A Slumdog by K. P. Yohannan. The title caught my attention because of the movie by a similar name. I sat down and began reading it. I wept often and asked forgiveness again and again of the Lord as the book revealed my selfishness to me.
There were stories about Muttu, Asha, Lata, Vichy, Tusli, and other names of poor children I could not pronounce. I read about a mother who sold her baby for ten pounds of rice. I learned about India’s caste system and how the lowest rung, the Dalits, comprise 20% of India’s population or nearly 300 million people. The Dalits are considered subhuman, worthy of being treated like dogs.
Every word acted like a rock thrown against my plastic Western Christianity, creating cracks in it. Yet, it was this specific sentence on Page 31, which penetrated my heart:
“In India alone, there are 11 million children like Asha who have been abandoned, and 90% of them are girls.”
All I could think about were the 9.9 million abandoned little girls. If I closed my eyes, I saw little children, but their faces resembled my daughter, Susan, when she was four years old. I could not ignore my heart this time.
My wife and I now sponsor six children in Gospel For Asia’s Bridge of Hope program. I am a volunteer advocate for Bridge of Hope, a Gospel For Asia blogger, and a member of their prayer team.
In the foreword to No Longer A Slumdog, Francis Chan wrote:
“I am very thankful for the book you are about to read. It has stirred my heart once again. Living in the West with all of its influences, it is easy to forget about others…”
I recommend this book to everyone and who knows? It may change your life, too.
(From soon to be published memoir, The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven.)