Honoring the Past, Pursuing the Future

Five Minutes with K.P.
K.P. Yohannan

Dr. K.P. Yohannan talks about the 40-year journey of GFA and his hopes for the future

GFA is 40 years old! What are some significant moments of GFA’s history that you remember?

When GFA first started, all I was thinking about was, “Let’s get the Good News out to people who have never heard it yet.” If you read my book Revolution in World Missions you will see this. Looking back over the 40 years of this journey, it’s beyond my understanding to grasp all the Lord has done. It’s not like I sat down and thought through the journey step by step and said, “OK, this is what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.” I just went along with whatever was before me.

A classic example of this is how we started the radio broadcast. I happened to be a friend of David Mains for a long time, and he was doing a radio program and wanted it broadcast in my native Indian language. I told him, “No problem. As soon as you can find someone to pay for it, we can find someone to do it.” I didn’t expect him to say, “No, I want you to do it.” I told him I didn’t have the formal language to do that. When I tried, I found out I didn’t know the biblical words in my native language because in my formative years I had been away from home. But I agreed to try, and so I stumbled along and recorded those 50 programs as best I could. Today, our radio program is in 110 languages and still drawing tremendous response.

Another moment that comes to mind is the beginning of our Bridge of Hope program. You see, my aspiration has always been to share the love of Jesus with others, to bring together a local community of Christ and to help them to grow in knowing the Lord. Many may be called to minister aid and comfort in this life, but I knew my place was to give people the opportunity to hear about God’s love for them.

So when we were thinking about starting the Bridge of Hope program to care for the children, I struggled with how people might respond. Before we developed this program fully, I sought the Lord with intense prayer and fasting for confirmation that this was the direction He wanted us to go. God, in His mercy, helped me see that caring for these children was an incredible opportunity to touch entire communities with His love and that this was exactly the path He was calling us to walk down.

Now, more than 70,000 children are cared for through the Bridge of Hope program. These children would have been destined for poverty—or worse—if the Lord hadn’t directed us to care for them with His love.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of this ministry?

Things are moving faster than we ever dreamed possible on the mission field in terms of people growing in their walks with the Lord. One of our biggest problems on the field, which I never thought would happen, is we just don’t have enough workers to meet the demand for the new fellowships coming up. Some brothers are pastoring two or more congregations all on their own. There is a massive need for more laborers, and I am praying to see more men and women raised up to fill those needs.

What is the Great Commission if the end result is not a local congregation that worships God as the audience among His people? Our dream is to see no less than 100,000 of these local fellowships established among communities in these unreached nations. There is such a great need now like never before to see authentic ancient-future churches established worldwide.

There is also a sense among the leaders on the field to expand our work in countries such as Africa, Russia and Europe. They all pray for North Korea to open up, too.

I am curious, as much as you are, to discover what is next before us. What we have seen so far is genuinely supernatural, and I believe the days ahead will be even better as we walk together in seeing His plan fulfilled through our lives.

Sometimes the Lord gives clear indications as to what He is leading us to do in the future, other times, we simply walk by faith each moment, trusting His will to be accomplished—and it is. So, we have great hope.

We will see what the Lord will do in the days to come as we go forward. The whole world is waiting to know the love of Jesus, that is the main thing.

How would you encourage each person—past, present and future—whose lives are connected to GFA?

We will see what the Lord will do in the days to come as we go forward. The whole world is waiting to know the love of Jesus, that is the main thing.

With that, I began to think to myself, Could it be God has called this ministry and our pure, orthodox passion for missions to be a significant answer in these last days?

We don’t know God’s plans, but we see glimpses. We know He is leading us to know Him more and be conformed into the image of Jesus—to be partakers of the divine nature. Everything He does leads us closer to Him.

Past, present and future are all present before Him. I am beginning to realize the massive eternal purposes God had in mind in allowing us to go through the things we have these 40 years. We have gone through many difficulties over the years, but the beautiful thing is that God accomplishes His purposes not through large numbers of people but rather the minority. Trials, pain and agony are part of getting the job done.

It is walking in Jesus’ footsteps, who endured suffering and what at first looked like defeat when He hung dying on the cross. But when Jesus rose from the dead, He crushed death and sin to bring hope to mankind. Our suffering—and our perseverance—also brings life to many who have been like dead men, separated from God.

You are part of a remarkable mystery of God doing something so amazing and wonderful. Here you are and here am I, like little heartbeats within the body that keeps it going. What we are doing is incredibly significant. It is a privilege the Lord gives us to serve Him on His behalf. Treasure it, be joyful and rejoice in what God is doing.

I, for one, am very grateful the Lord, in His mercy, chose me to know Him and serve Him. And I am grateful He has chosen each one of you to join us, whether it be for a short season or a lifetime.

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Christmas Catalog Impacts Families Worldwide

Christmas Catalog

For more than a decade, GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog has provided believers with a way to celebrate Christmas in light of eternity, sharing hope with thousands of families like Saju and Aasia’s. GFA released its first Christmas catalog in 2006. By 2007, more than 50,000 people received Christmas gifts to help them overcome hardships.

“The idea of the Christmas gift catalog was to provide an opportunity for those in the West to impact lives in a tangible way during the Christmas season by providing practical gifts in the name of Christ,” explains Bishop Danny Yohannan, vice president of GFA. “Giving a pair of chickens to a family with no income can make all the difference in the world.”

Through the Christmas Gift Catalog, individuals, families, churches and small groups in various nations can donate toward life-improving gifts, which are then purchased on the field and distributed to people in need during events held throughout the year. The Christmas Gift Catalog has a dual benefit: Families in Asia are receiving items that generate income or protect their health, and families around the world can touch lives through their Christmas giving.

As the catalog has grown and developed over the years, it’s continued to impact more and more lives, both in Asia and around the world. In 2018, GFA-supported workers distributed more than 240,000 income-generating or quality-of-life gifts to families in Asia, largely because of the Christmas catalog.

Many donors, encouraged by the chance to impact lives through the catalog, share this opportunity with their family, friends and relatives.

Katie, a donor from Canada, explained the joy of giving an appropriate gift in honor of her dad last Christmas. “My dad is a retired Canadian pig farmer. We donated four pigs on his behalf as part of his Christmas gift,” she wrote. “We think he will appreciate this gesture as well as we will have a good laugh. He raised pigs for 30 years. Now someone else can too.”

Jamie from Washington described the impact the Christmas catalog has made on her children: “Each year my kids enjoy flipping through the catalog and choosing gifts for people in Asia. We talk about how these gifts are needs for these people, and the gifts we would receive for Christmas are all just our ‘wants.’ Covering these needs for others is so much more important. I hope this helps give my kids a little perspective on how to care for others.”

As families and individuals in Asia receive practical gifts, such as livestock, tin sheets, rickshaws and winter clothing, they find opportunities and hope they never had before. Through this, many people are realizing Jesus is the Giver of all good gifts—and the greatest gift of all.

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Revolution in World Missions

Revolution in World Missions

It was an unfamiliar idea in 1986: national missions, supporting men and women in foreign lands to be the missionaries, to be the ones to lead their countrymen to the Lord.

It was a time when church missions boards led the way in missions, maintaining what had been done for centuries by sending foreigners to countries that had not yet been touched with the Good News or that needed to be revived in the faith.

And here was a young 20-something-year-old Indian man named K.P. Yohannan with a newly published book called The Coming Revolution in World Missions that proposed there was another way to do missions. It was a book about his journey of understanding how missions works, about what he encountered as a young boy traveling throughout his country sharing Christ’s love, about how to produce lasting fruit in doing the Lord’s work.

It was a book that introduced the idea of national missionaries and showed how they were the next wave in the missions world.

Foreign missionaries of ages long past had laid a solid foundation for Christianity in many countries, but after World War II, those countries suddenly became restricted. Without warning, foreign missionaries were forced to stop their work or be sent back to their homelands.

Years later, “How will they hear?” was the question that burned in the minds of Yohannan and his wife, Gisela. If no one was allowed into those countries, how would people hear the Good News of Christ’s love?

National missionaries were the answer. They were already in the countries; they were intelligent and capable of ministry work; they just needed support. They needed people to come alongside them so they could fulfill their God-given calling of ministry.

Yohannan’s message, however, was not well received.

“You’re going against everything everyone knows about missions,” an American friend told Yohannan.

By this time, GFA had been in existence for seven years. Yohannan traveled from place to place, sharing his book and the radical message of national missionaries. In some places he found acceptance; in other places he found opposition.

People either didn’t believe the “poor people of the foreign lands” had what it took to be missionaries, or they felt threatened that their own missionary support would be taken away, especially when Yohannan was saying it cost significantly less to support one national missionary.

Over time, however, more and more people came to understand the important role of national missionaries in missions work. What was “the coming revolution” became “the revolution.” Today, thousands of national missionaries are being supported by GFA partners around the globe—and they’re leading countless people to Christ.

More than 4 million copies of Revolution in World Missions have been distributed worldwide. It’s changed people’s lives. It’s brought much-needed awareness to the needs of God’s servants on the field. It’s helped start revolutions not just in missions but also in people’s hearts as they seek to live for eternity and partner with the Body of Christ around the world.

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No Longer a Slumdog

No Longer a Slumdog

For the past 40 years, Dr. K.P. Yohannan’s heart has been for the suffering and hurting of Asia. In 2004, his heart widened to include ministering to the many children in need who had been abandoned, neglected and abused and were roaming the streets desperately trying to survive.

Their need prompted Dr. Yohannan to start GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program, which aims to help the suffering children in Asia by providing a safe place, warm food and an education.

For a few years, GFA speakers traveled to hundreds of churches across the nation, sharing about the opportunity to help suffering children. Thousands of children were sponsored as people realized the great need and opened their hearts to compassion. But a question arose: How can we let more believers in the West know about the countless testimonies of hardship that children in Asia face?

In 2011, Yohannan published his book No Longer a Slumdog, which details the harrowing stories of children’s poverty and the hardships they face.

“God is grieved over the plight of children in this generation—children, who, at this very moment, are suffering in circumstances we don’t want to imagine.” Dr. Yohannan writes. “He is looking for an individual who will say no to themselves and instead care for the things on His heart…”

And it’s just as Dr. Yohannan hoped: Individuals across the globe have stepped up for the hurting and suffering children in Asia.

Elijah from California says, “After reading No longer a Slumdog, my heart started to hurt for these children; it made me realize the hurt that God is also feeling for so many of these precious children.”

No Longer a Slumdog is indeed impacting lives in Asia and the lives of its readers. By learning of these children’s stories, people’s perspectives are radically transformed—like Kirk’s.

“I could see my own two children (6 and 4) as I read,” Kirk says. “I just wept. My family will be a part of the difference in these children’s lives. We won’t wait anymore.”

With 1 million copies of No Longer a Slumdog published, children’s lives are still being transformed. More than 70,000 have already been helped. By the grace of God, and through our brothers and sisters in Christ, we seek to help many more in the years to come.

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