Our guest today is the founder and president of Love Never Fails International. Since leaving the US, he’s taught in an orphanage, helped facilitate a Jesus film ministry, and worked in the slums of Mumbai. It was there that God led him to found Love Never Fails International, which works alongside the local church in India. Their goal is to rescue children from the slums of India through education and the Gospel.
I was excited when Johnathan Kraus reached out to me for an opportunity to share what God’s doing. As we talked, he shared some amazing stories of God's faithfulness and some unusual ways he ministers.
What we talked about
Getting to know Johnathan Kraus
How God moved Johnathan from educator in the US to missionary in India
Johnathan was a teacher, living out his dream. He was working in an area of New Jersey that was heavily populated by Indians and he loved them. But it was when he went over to a friend's home to watch Slumdog Millionaire that things began to change – he learned a new aspect of India.
From there God began to cultivate a different love for India and to confirm the calling on his life.
He didn't have any connections in India. He didn't know where he was going to go. So he prayed. And God opened up a door.
How God opened up that door
But connection led to connection to connection.
Someone had tried to connect him with a girl (he was single) and they ended up going on an outreach together. And it was on that outreach that he met someone who was able to point him in the right direction.
What is life like for you?
Johnathan lives in Mumbai – the most densely populated city in the world. It's twice as densely populated (by people) as New York City. And that's not counting cattle, dogs, and more.
He lives about 45 minutes outside of the main slum where he works. There are other slums around him but those aren't where God's opened up doors for ministry.
He has a car and drives to work. He's often stopped about once a week by the police. They make random stops and they are an opportunity to speak the language and see how much money they'll try to get out of him.
He drives to about 20 minutes outside the slum because he's never had peace to drive his car there as a foreigner. It might not go over well.
From there, he takes a Rickshaw into the area where he ministers and then walks a few more minutes to the orphanage. There, he ministers the full Gospel to about 25 children. They sing and play music. They encourage the children to lead. They teach English.
In the center of all this. In the foundation, it's about teaching them about Jesus and bringing them to the Lord so that they can know their identity in Christ.
- Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
- Kids don't care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.
The story of a significant challenge
When Johnathan first went to Mumbai, he started working with the local Church. His heart was really for educating the kids in the slums. His thought was “We can feed them but they're going to be hungry the next day. But if we educate them, then we're going to give them something…some tools to work with.”
He started doing some English outreaches and had a center where the kids came. They were teaching functional English. But his heart was really to get them in an English school and really start to build their foundation in English.
We can feed them but they're going to be hungry the next day. But if we educate them, then we're going to give them something…some tools to work with.
He faced a lot of opposition because his heart was for all of the kids, not just the children of the church members. The local church was in poverty as well and wanted the kids from their church to get the sponsorships.
He realized that he was new there, so it wasn't a battle for him to fight. So he humbled himself and submitted to the local church.
The next year around, the church was more open to the idea of also educating Muslim and Hindu children as an outreach.
What's your schedule like while you're on furlough?
- Meeting with people to give them personal updates
- Speaking at churches that have supported him
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About Johnathan's ministry
Johnathan wouldn't have pictured himself ministering where he is today. But God took him on a journey to get him there.
The path God took Johnathan on to get him to where he is today
When Johnathan came into 9th grade, he wasn't studious. He dropped out of school while in the 9th grade. It was a depressing time. He took up a life of drugs and tobacco – a path he'd never even considered going down just a few years prior.
But God had a plan.
The plan was that he went back and took some classes. Then he got his General Educational Diploma (G.E.D.) and went to a community college. Then, by the grace of God, he was accepted to Rutgers University.
From that point, he went on to get his Ph.D. and was then hired as an Adjunct Professor.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians [1:27])
How does your ministry impact the slums?
They don't just go in and say, “I'm a missionary and I want to teach you about Jesus. Come.” Rather, they come in to teach English and they are welcomed. It's not taught in the public schools and most of the families in the slums can't afford to pay for English education.
So, the families are willing to compromise on their beliefs, believing that English will take their children to places they've never been able to go.
They don't hold anything back. But they do provide a valuable service to the community. Whether the families are Christ-followers or not.
He's been offering this ministry in Mumbai for 4 years and 1 year prior in a village.
What kinds of transformations have you seen in the slums?
- The kids are more open to the Gospel.
- They bring their friends to VBS
- They talk about the joy they have from knowing Jesus.
How did God confirm where you should minister?
First, he learned by burnout because he started working with a large church when he got to Mumbai. They work in about 50 different slums and he was working in 3 of those slums, setting up the vision he had. And as he was traveling around the city by train, carrying a laptop and projector, and ministering in those areas he just didn't feel like there was much favor.
But in the one slum where he gravitated, there was a lot of favor from God with the people and they were really in need. And one other thing drew him into that place – the ability to do a little more of what God had put in his mind and to recruit people to come alongside him.
What has encouraged and strengthened you in times of discouragement?
Often, it was a phone call with a close friend in the United States. A call that encouraged and refocused him. Even if he had to initiate the call.
And, of course, being in the Bible and listening to worship really gave him strength.
Focus on the promises, not the problems.
What fuels your passion?
Many times Johnathan has been able to minister to the people who support him, not just the people he sees in India. Sometimes he ends up praying for people when he calls them on the phone, simply to say “thank you.”
Suggest a guest
I'm always looking for great guests for the show. I don't necessarily want the proverbial “rock star.” Instead, I'm looking for church planters, missionaries, and ministry leaders whose lives and ministry are centered on Jesus and who are faithfully obedient to His call.
If you know somebody who fits the bill, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Focus on YOU, the listener
Does what I do in the marketplace really matter in the Kingdom?
Johnathan asked: How many of you consider yourselves missionaries?
Really, we all have a mission from God. Whether we're called to America as missionaries or called to a foreign country with a different language, it's still the same concept.
Johnathan has had some of his best missionary work in his backyard. And now God is bringing the nations to America. We have amazing opportunities without the persecution we see elsewhere.
We all have a place of ministry…God has put you there for a reason.
What do I do to minister to people around me who are from another culture?
Learn about their culture as much as possible
Then start a conversation. Maybe it will go something like this:
- Where are you from?
- Oh, that's interesting (if it is – be honest)
- (continue conversation)
People want to open up to people who take interest in their culture.
How to take that first step
- Maybe ask them to meet you for coffee.
- If it's a neighbor, invite them into your home.
- Get to know them.
- Find out their interests.
- Take interest in them.
- Let them know you care about them as a person.
- Pray with them.
- Tell them about the Gospel.
- Share about the Bible.
- Build up the relationships.
- Invite them to Church.
Take a big step of faith.
If you really feel like the Lord is leading you, don't be afraid to step forward. Take that step of faith. Because God puts no limitations on faith and faith should put no limitations on God.
Questions, Topics, and Times[00:27] – Introduction to Johnathan Kraus
[01:05] – How God moved Johnathan from educator in the US to missionary in India
[03:20] – How God opened up a door for Johnathan to get to India
[04:25] – What is life like for Johnathan?
[07:30] – Have you reevaluated how you view material possessions?
[09:03] – Meaningful Scripture
[10:27] – The story of a significant challenge
[14:15] – What is your schedule like while you're on furlough?
[16:34] – Engaging Missions Leadership Minute
[19:10] – The path God took Johnathan on to get him to where he is today
[21:31] – How does your ministry impact the slums?
[24:09] – How long have you been doing this?
[24:21] – What kinds of transformations have you seen?
[25:01] – How did God confirm where you should minister?
[28:18] – What has encouraged and strengthened you in times of discouragement?
[30:14] – What fuels your passion?
[32:57] – Does what I do in the marketplace really matter in the Kingdom?
[35:51] – What do I do to minister to people around me who are from another culture?
[38:04] – How do I take that first step?
[39:42] – Recommended book
[41:37] – Parting advice
[42:19] – Contact info
- Great interview, Great ministry.November 24, 2016 by pagaentzy from United States
Every episode is intriguing. The Thanksgiving episode was both heartwarming and challenging. Thank you for sharing. God bless you, your interviewees, and your listeners.
- Great resources and storiesOctober 21, 2016 by oldsow from United States
Bryan has a relaxed style, quick humour, and "engaging" style. Every week there is different guest who is serving in a different capicity in missions. You get to hear from vetrans who have spent decades in the field to students who are about to embark on their first journey. They represent a wide spectrum of missional work and church backgrounds. Their testimonies are encouraging and thought provoking. They also add in very helpful tips for missionaries, potentiaonl missionaries, or mission supporters.
- Bryan is a great interviewerOctober 19, 2016 by Androwlew from United States
Not only is the content of this show wonderful to listen to, Bryan makes it easy to want to listen to it as he is a great listener and has intriguing questions. I listen to many podcasts, and some of them the podcast host can get in the way of the narrative trying to be told. That is definitely not the case with Engaging Missions. Bryan finds a good balance between asking the right questions, getting the interviewee to go deeper on concepts they know well but the audience doesn’t, and allowing the interviewee to tell his/her story. It’s a fine balance to find and he does it well.
- Great Podcast!October 4, 2016 by octavehigher from United States
- One of the bestMay 3, 2016 by SteCIr from United States
One of the best podcasts I've listened to. Audio quality is superb, the interviews are engaging, the content is challenging, and the website content is very helpful. Very professional.
- Bryan is a fantastic hostFebruary 25, 2016 by This is Rammy from United Kingdom
I've only recently came across Bryan's podcast but I found the content to be very refreshing and thought provoking. He not only makes you question what you're doing to benefit others but also what you could do more. The guests he interviews are varied and that helps to keep the content feeling fresh. Thanks Bryan, keep up the great work. Lee
- Great stories and inspiration!February 25, 2016 by Daniel J. Lewis from United States
Bryan does a great job of pulling inspiring stories from his guests. Not only will this motivate you, but I think it can help open your eyes to the wide field of Christian missions work. I think you’ll learn how to better pray for missionaries, recognize how you can support missions work, and discover opportunities to participate yourself!
- Great PodcastJuly 28, 2015 by Cobbled Together from United States
Great interviews with those on the forefront of missional thinking. Thanks for doing what you are doing!
- Fantastic Podcasts on Disciple Making Movements!April 26, 2015 by C Huckaby from United States
Found these podcasts because of their amazing collection of interviews with leaders of church planting and disciple making movements! Keep up the great work!
- Great interview, Great ministry.January 22, 2015 by pagaentzy from United States
Good to hear how God guides when we seek to know Him and His ways. Check out episode 9, Packing Bags of Light.
- Stop By Here for Consistent EncouragementOctober 29, 2014 by jph356 from United States
It’s no secret that there are more podcast shows out there than we could ever listen to, so from Day One on iTunes, we have to start filtering all the options to find the “diamonds in the rough.” I feel that Bryan’s interviews with missionaries are at the forefront of cutting-edge podcast ministry. I am deeply encouraged by his ministry of missionary stories and mission education. May God bless you, Bryan, as you continue to serve the LORD and bring him glory!
- Great sourceJuly 24, 2014 by J bo from United States
It is such a great source to be able to hear and learn about missions from missionaries. Very helpful tool for missionaries to share what they are up to and how they are serving Christ.
- Great missions interviewsMay 25, 2014 by Caleb Sukofamily.org from United States
Bryan has some great mission interviews on his podcast with missionaries who are on the front lines serving the Lord.
- Great interview with Brent B.May 4, 2014 by Marfoof from United States
Enjoyed hearing about YWAM...have some friends who participated in YWAM as well as a daughter-in-law. Their ministry is great!
- Such a need for this!April 16, 2014 by Micpreeeb from United States
What a great idea for a podcast. SO many will be blessed by this...from the missionary to their supporters to the people they minister to. Excellent.
- Great listen!April 15, 2014 by JoeDaddy1138 from United States
Interviews are very informative and an easy listen. Engaging Missions' ability to offer insightful questions to paint a picture of the opportunities and challenges with the mission field will help shed some light on what God is doing worldwide.
- authorApril 12, 2014 by TC Avey from United States
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