Growing up, Asha and her younger brother faced many challenges. Their father held a respectable job, but he spent all of his earnings on alcohol. He fought with his wife and didn’t show care for his children, and many times Asha and her brother went to bed at night without any food in their stomachs.
Although Asha’s parents sent her to the local public school, they never let her study when she got home. They asked her questions about her activities in class, but they had no desire to see her succeed.
Asha didn’t see the purpose in going to school. She thought it was just a waste of time – as did her parents. Asha knew she’d likely be married soon after she turned 10, like many girls in her community. Her life thereafter would be devoted to household chores and taking care of her family. What was the point in learning to read and write if she would never use it?
Even though child marriages are, by and large, illegal, they still occur all around the world. It is estimated that one-third of all women in developing nations were married before age 18, and one-third of those women were married before age 15. The reasons behind child marriages are incredibly complex: Some parents feel they are proteting their children by having them married at a young age, or feel that their child will be provided for when they can’t take care of them financially.
In other places, parents consider their daughters a burden, as was the case in Asha’s community.
According to a Gospel for Asia-supported field correspondent, “In their society, girls were not given consideration. They were believed to be a burden upon their parents. At the age of 10, they would get them married. Parents did not want them to study more, since they are going to be in someone else’s house after their marriage.”
Thankfully, Asha’s story doesn’t end in child marriage the way she thought it would. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, Asha found a brighter future.
The staff gave her a nutritious meal each day, school supplies and hygiene items to help her thrive and they taught her how to read and write – two skills Asha had never valued before.
At the centre, Asha also learned about Jesus. Curious to know more about Him, she started going to church with some of her friends. When her father found out about her activities, he was furious. But young Asha determined in her heart to continue going to church, despite the rebukes from her father, and even began telling her family about Jesus.
Today, Asha is on course to graduate from high school. What’s more, her entire family has entrusted their hearts to Jesus.
- Give thanks for the Bridge of Hope Centres across Asia, where children such as Asha can find a hope and a future otherwise unobtainable.
- Pray GFA, and many other organisations working with families and children across Asia, seeking to improve health and provide education, and to show the love of Jesus to these precious people. Pray for protection for the workers, and for many children and families to come to faith in Jesus through their ministry.
- Pray for an end to child marriage across the world, and protection over girls who are forced into such marriages.
- Pray for an increased recognition and acceptance of the value and worth of girls and women in so many parts of the world, and that many will come to see their value in the eyes of God.
Psalm 140 vs 12: “I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy, and executes justice for the poor.”