“This is some of the worst flooding I have ever heard about,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, president and founder of Gospel for Asia, when he was told about the monsoon floods that have left millions homeless and 2,000 people dead in three South Asian nations.
“I grew up with monsoons every year,” he said, “but this exceeds even last year’s floods in terms of the number of victims—and we don’t even have the final numbers yet.”
News reports indicate that about 2,000 people have lost their lives so far, and an estimated 28 million people have been driven from their homes. Bangladesh, Nepal, and the adjacent Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal and Assam have been especially hard hit.
In India’s Bihar state alone, more than 12 million people have seen their homes and farmland submerged under the rising waters.
Now health experts are predicting an epidemic of waterborne diseases.
“It reminds me of the tsunami all over again in terms of the suffering of the people,” Pastor Simon John told Dr. Yohannan by phone from Delhi. GFA’s North India leader had just returned from four days in Bangladesh, working with the missionaries and church leaders there to coordinate GFA Compassion Services response to the disaster. He had been unable to communicate with the outside because of the damage to the communications infrastructure.
“Our people are involved in providing rice and beans, kerosene, cooking utensils and other items to the victims,” Pastor John told Dr. Yohannan, “but transporting even these basics is difficult because roads are closed in many parts of Assam and Bangladesh. So our missionaries are walking or using bicycles, canoes or whatever other means are available to get to the victims.”
“By God’s grace we have the missionaries and believers at ground zero to mobilize very fast to help the hurting,” Dr. Yohannan noted. “At the same time, many of our believers have lost their homes and are suffering as well.”
Pastor John said that “in the beginning we didn’t realize that it would be this serious. But the rains just didn’t stop… .”
The North Indian leader also noted that many of GFA’s church members make their living through menial jobs, living hand to mouth each day.
“In the floods, their jobs are gone,” he said. “And that means no food-even if there was food available to buy.
“Yet regardless of their own suffering, “our people see this as an opportunity to minister to those around them in the name of Christ. Those that have not been as hard hit are giving of their own food, water, or whatever they can. And our churches are also raising what funds they can among themselves.”
Of course, GFA’s help goes far beyond immediate physical relief.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to show the compassion and love of Christ,” Dr. Yohannan said. “I ask all Christians—whether in Asia or in the West—to join me in praying for the victims of this tragedy. And pray as well for our missionaries and our Compassion Services teams as they pray and counsel with the victims and strive to meet their spiritual and emotional needs as well as bring them physical relief.
“And as the Lord leads you, please help us as we help them. Any contribution you can send will truly make a life-giving difference. We are committed to doing everything we can to bring relief and hope to these suffering people-not just for a few days, but for weeks and months to come.”