Bihar, India is experiencing heavy rains and flooding again that is bringing with it major devastation. And the next few days look like they are only going to bring more rain.* Bihar is where the Jesus' Economy sponsored church planters live and work.
More than 100 people in Bihar and the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh have died due to the heavy rain and flooding over the past few days. The rain has affected normal life as everything from roads to hospitals to schools to homes are partially under water. Railroad transportation has also been stopped due to the flooding.
Many districts in Bihar are facing severe flooding threats as rivers, including the Ganges River, are flowing above the danger mark. Rescue workers have been called in to rescue people from flooded areas. But with 104 Million people in Bihar alone, with over 50 percent of the population already living below the extreme poverty line, even a large disaster response effort will not be enough.
To make matters worse, the people of Bihar are still recovering from the last heavy rains and flooding. Please join us in praying for the people of Bihar.
Pray the rains would stop and the rivers wouldn’t overflow.
Pray that the rescue workers would have the resources and help they need to rescue people.
Pray that the hospitals would no longer be under water so they can help people properly.
Pray that loved ones will be able to find each other and know whether they are safe.
Pray for God’s grace and protection for the people in Bihar.
*The photos in this post are from the flooding earlier in the season in Bihar, India.
Heavy rain over the past couple of weeks has led to extreme flooding in Bihar, India. Bihar is where our sponsored church planters live and work; several of them are directly affected by this flooding. Many of these photos were taken by one of our sponsored church planters, who himself lost a family member in the flood.
Our partners in India informed us of this disastrous flooding that has affected 7.2 million people and hundreds of villages. People have been forced to leave their homes and stay with family and at impromptu shelters. 97 people have been reported dead and dozens have been injured according to Bihar's state disaster management department. That number could go up as six rivers are flowing above the danger level and continue to flood.
Many of the shelters that are housing people don't have running water and electricity. It's also a four to five hour wait for gasoline and there isn't much food available. These factors compounded with dealing with the loss of loved ones make it hard to function and have hope.
Pray for Bihar, that the rains will stop and flooding will come to an end.
Pray for those who have lost loved ones in the flooding, that Jesus will heal the broken hearted.
Pray for those injured by the flooding, that their wounds will heal.
Pray for the relief and rehabilitation work.
Pray that God will be people's constant companion in these times of need.
Pray that God will move in his merciful power to meet needs and protect people.
Pray for our church planters, that God will give them the words needed to help heal and comfort those affected.
Imagine having to fight for water that isn’t even safe enough to drink. That was the reality for people in a remote village in Bihar, India. Before Jesus' Economy stepped in, many of the water wells located in the village were contaminated with high concentrations of iron ore, and a majority of the wells were privately owned. The poorest people in the community were denied access to this privately held clean water.
Through your donations, we were able to drill a water well in the heart of the village that provides everyone with clean, drinkable water. Drilling the well transformed the lives of hundreds of people and gave this village of 5,000 access to clean water. The well is directly benefiting 200 to 400 villagers who are drinking from it regularly. In addition, many of the villagers learned about Jesus when the well was dedicated. Without your help, these villagers would still be drinking dirty water.
The efforts in this remote village in northeast India are part of our Renew Bihar project, which is providing access to the gospel and clean water, as well as empowering women through business. Together, we're renewing hearts, homes, and hope. Thank you for joining us in this most important effort.
After realizing that the Indian government would not be able to assist them, the people in a small remote village in Bihar, India had to settle with drinking dirty water. The majority of the villagers are laborers, primarily fishermen. A constant supply of clean water was out of their reach; they simply could not pull enough resources together to pay for a well. Our newest church planter, Rahul, told us about this village and the struggles the villagers face every day, and we felt compelled to help.
Due to your generous donations, over 300 people now have access to clean water. Nearly 60 people gathered for the well’s inauguration, and chose to thank God for providing one of their most basic needs.
Bihar, India is one of the most impoverished places in the world and together we're lifting people out of poverty. Our efforts to bring clean water to the impoverished are part of our Renew Bihar project.
Our Renew Bihar project is bringing the gospel to the unreached, empowering women through job training and microloans, and supplying clean water. With your support, we're renewing hope, hearts, and homes. We're renewing entire communities. Thank you.
With special thanks to: Marty and Cheryl, Tricia and Tom, Lisa, Shane, Jahan, and our matching donor for making this grant a reality.
Update April 4, 2015: We have now met this goal, thanks to you and God's incredible work. Learn more about our March 2015 campaign below. Learn more about church planting in Bihar, India here.
Our two church planters in Bihar, India are up for their second year of funding. They have been doing incredible work providing access to the gospel, in an area where millions have never heard the name of Jesus. But here's the deal: We're $3,000 short on making the total we need for this grant.
To help us hit this goal, an anonymous donor is willing to give up to $1,500 to match each dollar you donate. So if you give $1, it equals $2. Donate $25 to church planting now by clicking here. I tell you more in this VLOG.
Join us in providing access to the gospel. Renew hope in Bihar, India.
By having achieved our goal, our matching grant has now been met and donated, but you're still welcome to give. We have other church planters who are in need of funding, and there are still millions in Bihar who have never heard the name of Jesus.
In a remote village in Bihar, India, there is a group of people who lack access to the basics and are living in extreme poverty. This situation is repeated in village after village, but this year, we had an opportunity to do something about it. Thanks to one generous donor, a village of 500 people now have access to clean water.
On October 4, 2014, in partnership with a local organization, we drilled a 180-foot bore well in Bihar. This well provides clean water, year-round, to the 500 residents of the village. Prior to this well being drilled, the people of this village were often forced to drink out of an open well that was contaminated. The village's poor water and sanitation situation was brought to the attention of our partner in Bihar and thus brought to our attention. Now, this group of impoverished people has access to clean water.
It only costs $1,000 to give a village clean water. In this instance, that cost breaks down to $2 per person; that's the price of the joy of clean water. And that's a price all of us can afford.
A Little Girl Drinks from the New Well
Two Women Draw Water from the New Well for Their Households
Every last dollar you donate to Jesus' Economy goes exactly where you designate. That means that if you give $100 to a water well in India, we only spend your $100 in India drilling a water well.
Consider contributing to another well project in Bihar.
Remember the water well you helped us drill earlier this year? In partnership with a local organization, and thanks to the funding you provided, we drilled a 180-foot deep water well in a village in Bihar, India in May 2014.
1,300 people live in this village and most of them didn't have access to clean water before May 2014. There is so much we could say and so many wonderful stories to tell, but for now, a picture says 1,000 words.
A boy drinks clean water from the new well
A woman obtains a bucket of clean water from the new well
Another woman obtains clean water for her household, as other villagers watch with joy
A young woman laughs as she obtains clean water for her household
Consider contributing to another well in Bihar, India.
Sounding a little surprised that I didn’t understand why such a large crowd had come out that day, my friend Biju said: “They came to be healed.” Placing his hand on my shoulder, Biju then looked at me and said: “When Jesus comes to town people are healed.”
With fervor and conviction in his tone, it was as if Biju was saying, “You Mr. M.A. in Biblical Studies, who has edited a study Bible, do you actually know what the Bible says?”
You can live your entire life studying the Bible and not know what it actually means. Right there, in that moment, in Bihar, India, I realized that I knew the gospel but did not understand it.
It wasn’t the first time I had seen people healed, but it had never dawned on me that healings are meant to be a major part of ministry—that freeing people not just from spiritual oppression, but also from physical oppression, is a central part of Jesus’ message. It is something all of us should pursue and believe in.
Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming that freedom for the oppressed is his message. In a synagogue, Jesus read an Isaiah scroll—at Isaiah 61:1–2 and 58:6—saying:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 ESV).
Jesus, as the fulfillment of Scripture, chooses these lines to articulate what he is all about. It is this message that John the Baptist makes the way for (Mark 1:1–8). And it is this message that ultimately confirms for John who Jesus is. When Jesus is asked by John’s disciples if is indeed the one John had been waiting for, Jesus responds:
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear; the dead are raised, the poor have good news announced to them” (Luke 7:22).
The gospel is all about Jesus coming to town and changing lives. It is about the blind seeing, the lame walking, lepers being cleansed, the deaf hearing, the dead being raised, and the poor having good news announced to them.
Life transformation should be our expectation when spreading the good news about Jesus. Jesus is not just a message to be preached; through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is at work in our very lives and those who we meet. Jesus is transforming lives here and now—and he wants to do so. The gospel unlocks the very power of God to change and transform humanity.
Think of all the times the gospel describes crowds surrounding Jesus and his disciples (e.g., Mark 3:7; Matthew 5:1; Luke 14:25). And think of how this continues straight into the time of the apostles (e.g., Acts 2:5–41). Why should it not go on today?
The blind deserve to see. The lame deserve to walk. The deaf deserve to hear. If people desire, they should have their demons cast out. Jesus wants to free people now. Let’s unleash the power of Christ for all who are impoverished—the spiritual and physically impoverished.
The good news of Jesus is good news for the poor. When Jesus comes to town, people are healed. When Jesus comes to town lives are renewed—restored, as they should be.
Our faith and our actions should be inseparable. Let’s act like we actually believe in the Jesus of the Bible, for he is resurrected and alive today.
Learn about our project to Renew Bihar, India: we're offering access to the gospel of Jesus to thousands who have never heard his name.
“Some things require hard prayer.”
The man who spoke these words to me should know: Biju Thomas is the director of Transformation India Movement—Jesus’ Economy’s partner in Bihar, India. Bihar is one of the most impoverished places in the world, where few have heard the name of Jesus. In Bihar, Biju is empowering people out of poverty and offering access to the gospel. His work is hard and requires hard prayer. In Biju’s work is a message for you. This message, believe it or not, is rooted in a bit of a sitcom joke from Jesus. It’s awkward and beautiful.
Jesus understood that there would be times for hard prayer. And it wasn’t beyond Jesus to setup an incredible awkward scene to illustrate this point. In Luke’s Gospel, after Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer, he says:
“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5–8 ESV).
Jesus’ scenario is like a scene that a New York sitcom writer would setup: An old friend shows up in the middle of the night and is hungry. But you’re out of food and the store is closed, so you go to your neighbor’s studio apartment to wake him up. You knock on the door and he starts yelling …
To first-century, Jewish people this scene is probably very awkward—and perhaps even a little funny. Within a culture that highly valued hospitality—with people who lived primarily in one-bedroom homes, before the age of phones, grocery stores, and electricity—these words from Jesus would have had an even greater affect. The scenario in the original audience’s mind probably went something like this:
I’m expected to help my guest, why would my neighbor not help me? … Oh, I guess you’re right, if I was sleeping and my children were asleep, and someone woke me up, I would probably be disturbed too. … And yes, if I were persistent, my neighbor would answer me. Even though it would be an incredible inconvenience to my neighbor, they would understand that I needed their assistance.
Jesus uses this entire analogy to explain hard prayer. It’s shocking and jarring to his audience—for a reason.
Jesus goes on to explain the moral of his story:
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10 ESV).
I think Jesus hits us with the awkward scene before the moral for a reason: Jesus wants us to remember that prayer is inconvenient. (The scene was so awkward that it made me uncomfortable when explaining it. And awkward is funny and memorable.)
Call upon God, and yes, he will answer. But that does not mean that God will answer right away. And it doesn’t mean that the call to God will be easy. Calling upon God—knocking on his door—will probably be as difficult as waking up your neighbor in the night.
Prayer is a conversation. It’s about building a relationship. Who has built a solid marriage or friendship without some awkward moments and misunderstandings? Who tells stories about the convenient parts of their lives? Who would actually prefer to watch a sitcom over live one? If your life were a sitcom, it would be happening right now—are you living it? In all its awkwardness, are you living something memorable?
Jesus explains his scene further with another analogy:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11–13 ESV).
For Jesus’ culture, it is not when he calls a generation of people “evil” that they are really shocked—it was accepted culturally that people needed a savior and were far from God. The most shocking thing that Jesus says is that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who ask the Father for it. The Holy Spirit was viewed as something that dwelled upon a few individuals—mainly prophets and sometimes kings, and every once in a while, priests—at select moments in time.
This ultimately represents what Jesus’ ministry is all about—God’s very presence dwelling among us and in us. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that make this possible. Jesus bridges the gap between humanity and God, by bearing the sin of his evil generation and all others, allowing for God to dwell among us and in us.
Prayer is a conversation with the very God who is at work among us. God’s ways are not like our ways, and God wants to change our world for the better—that will lead to some awkward situations.
Following after Jesus—and seeking him through prayer—is not easy, but it is rewarding. My friend Biju is engaged in this type of hard prayer: It is the baseline for everything he does. It requires hard prayer to alleviate poverty and provide access to the gospel. It requires hard prayer to change the world.
Let’s get awkward for Jesus—praying through each moment.
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