Gospel for Asia Moves to Aid Flood Victims

Monday, August 14, 2006

INDIA (ANS) -- Gospel for Asia (GFA) native mission leaders in India are moving quickly to bring aid and hope to victims of what is reported to be the country’s worst flooding in 200 years.

GFA President K.P. Yohannan said the torrential rains—in some places, more than six inches in one day—are reminiscent of the biblical flood.

So far more than 2,000 people are reported dead, with some estimates much higher. Millions more are homeless, many stranded by the flood waters.

In response, GFA Compassion Services has established five centers to coordinate relief efforts in the hardest-hit areas. These include Mumbai (Bombay), Aurangabad and Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra, Sunav (focusing on the Surat District of Gujarat) and Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh state.

“Our Bible college staffs, pastors and students’ teams are also involved in relief work,” Dr. Yohannan reported.

GFA state and regional leaders in India are focusing on the areas where the largest numbers of people lost their homes and possessions. They are gathering materials to begin relief operations.

Dr. Yohannan said these efforts include supplying emergency food packets; drinking water; clothes and blankets; essential items such as cooking vessels, kerosene stoves, tent materials, and medicines; as well as food commodities such as rice, dal (lentils and other pulses), jowar (sorghum), and cooking oil.

GFA leaders reported that in Maharashtra, the state that includes Mumbai, more than 450,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas, and thousands of animals have been swept away in the floods. In Maharashtra alone, more than 370,000 acres of agricultural land with standing crops were flooded.

In Chhattisgarh state, the hardest-hit village was one where two GFA native missionaries are based. The village is reported to be submerged under 10 feet of water, and the missionaries’ house was among 25 washed away. The missionaries are now ministering to their fellow refugees in government shelters.

In Gujarat state, 80 percent of the city of Surat is under water, and 250 people are known dead, including 150 who perished when a four-story building where they had taken shelter collapsed.

“This year, the monsoon floods are the worst in history,” said Dr. Yohannan.
“The rains are showing no mercy, and many victims are suffering for lack of food, drinking water, medicines and shelter.”

Reports continue to come in of submerged railway platforms, electrical power outages, bridges washed away, communications systems down, air traffic disrupted and civic services crippled.

“Our GFA Compassion Services workers will continue to bring not only physical relief,” Dr. Yohannan added, “but God’s hope and love to these victims for many weeks and months to come.”

“This is our opportunity to share the love of Christ with the suffering people of India in a very tangible way,” he said. “And as we pray and counsel with them, it is our prayer that they will find new hope for their lives in Him.”

For more information on Gospel for Asia go to www.gfa.org.