SE Asia (MNN/GFA) — Shimmering water. Steamy jungles. Rustic huts. It’s an amazing hidden paradise. At least that’s what you see at first glance. These are the Forgotten Islands of West Bengal, India.
Although they look like an exotic vacation spot, there aren’t any luxuries here. The villagers will never go to a mall, taste an ice cube, or drive a car. Instead they’ll fish, bathe, and wash dishes in the same stagnant ponds. Even worse, they’ll drink from it.
There are no schools or medical clinics, and the people have never been taught how to keep clean, so there’s a lot of sickness and death. Life seems hopeless.
But a team of 18 Gospel of Asia missionaries is changing all that.
Traveling from island to island by boat, these men are bringing the light of Christ to the darkness of these hidden waterways.
Taj is the leader of the group. He’s determined to take this message of hope, despite facing persecution and death threats. “It is not ‘we’ who have been doing ministry, but it is God who is doing ministry through us.”
Island residents have formed a close-knit society. Foreigners, even from India, aren’t easily accepted. But through the missionaries, God has started bringing down the walls. As a result, the men have started developing relationships with hundreds of villagers, allowing them to share the Gospel openly.
One missionary, Benjamin, met a woman who was having health issues. He began praying for her. She told him that he was like her son. He told her that she was like his mother and not to worry because Jesus would take care of her. As a result, her entire family came to faith in Jesus.
Following that, the missionaries were able to open a Bridge of Hope Center, a place where children are provided food, clothing, and help with their education. Now, there are 20 Bridge of Hope Centers in the islands.
GFA has also provided water wells, called Jesus Wells, which is helping to provide clean, safe water, warding off preventable diseases.
GFA reports that the island residents have seen the love of the missionaries and are eager to learn more about Jesus. In less than two years, 44 islands have been reached. 66 thriving Christian fellowships have also been established. On one island, every single villagers has come to Christ.
God is working through these missionaries in miraculous ways. But there are still many islands that are unreached. While GFA is thankful for God’s work in the region, the missionaries are praying for more workers and funding to help in their efforts.
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