Christian Missionaries Face Hardship In India's Flooded Bihar State

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Native Christian missionaries were among victims in India's Bihar State Tuesday, September 2, amid reports that hundreds of churches and homes were under water because of devastating floods, which have displaced some three million people and claimed at least 90 lives.

Gospel for Asia (GFA), a major mission group working in the region, said the troubles began last month when a dam broke in the Saptakoshi River in Nepal, leading to massive flooding in neighboring Bihar.

"An area the size of [the US state of] Delaware has been inundated...We we have at least 200 churches and a large number of missionaries in the region that is completely under water," said GFA President K.P. Yohannan. "We are still waiting to receive reports about how badly this disaster has affected our work, but I have no doubt that the results will be serious."

In a statement, GFA missionaries Premal Lokprakash and Hetal Masih said the water rose "four feet in some places as floods engulfed the Supaul, Araria and Madhepura districts of Bihar." Missionaries Mitali Raut and Binod Digal said many in their area are stranded on the roofs of their homes, and that the water level continues to rise as the heavy rains pour down.


There was also concern Tuesday, September, 2 over an outbreak of water and airborne diseases because of the heat, combined with limited supplies of safe drinking water and poor hygiene.

"The doctors are there, but we do notice that there is an increase in cases of diarrhea, in particular," said the the coordinator for emergency operations in Bihar for the United Nations Children's Fund, Mukesh Puri.

"Apart from providing food and other basic amenities, proper hygienic conditions have to be maintained and clean drinking water has to be provided," Puri told the Voice of America (VOA) network. "Particularly vulnerable groups like small children and pregnant women, their needs have to be taken care of, which is a challenge in such trying conditions."

In addition to these concerns, the people of Bihar are faced with the loss of thousands of acres of crops, GFA said. Even after the water recedes, missionares estimate that many people will be living in relief camps for seven to eight months before they can return to their villages.


"It is in this situation that I ask Christians to pray for the people of Bihar, and for the believers there." Yohannan said. "We don't know how many churches we have lost or how many Christians have been flooded from their homes, but we do know that our commitment is to help everyone we can, regardless of the situation."

He said that, "Over and over, we have seen God at work in the wake of these disasters, and I am confident that He will turn what we see as evil into His good."

He said local leaders, missionaries and his group have asked "Christians around the world pray for those suffering in these floods, that the waters will quickly recede and that those who have escaped the disaster will be kept safe." He said that despite the troubles, GFA 'Compassion Services' teams will be involved in aid and missionary activities in the devastated area.

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