September 13, 2013
With their homes underwater and their belongings washed away, many people are in dire need of relief.
Children take refuge on an elementary school roof.
Monsoon floods in the Indian state of Bihar have killed 160 and affected 5.4 million people in 20 districts. In one village where Gospel for Asia has a thriving ministry, 500 out of 2,000 residents are facing extreme trials from the flood, many having lost their belongings or entire homes. Five local churches reported 250 families in their congregations were affected. Compassion Services teams are currently making plans to provide relief for victims of the flood.
Please pray for:
- Floodwaters to recede and allow victims to recover.
- Wisdom and safety for Compassion Services teams as they make plans and set out to provide relief.
- Guidance for believers as they reach out to their neighbors with Christ’s love during this trying time.
Update: Video & Photos of Flood Relief
August 2, 2013
On June 16, an early monsoon hit the Indian state of Uttarakhand, striking it with the nation’s heaviest rains in 80 years.
One overflowing river gushed into the valley below and flooded an area where many were visiting on religious pilgrimages.
The ensuing devastation killed hundreds of people in one town and approximately 900 in the entire state of Uttarakhand.
“I got a call from my uncle. … He told me, ‘Rush out of the house. Climb.’ … We all ran out. Within a few minutes, a huge wall of water came at a huge intensity toward our town. Most people survived, but everything else was gone.” – Japendra*
Thousands who survived lost their homes and all their other earthly possessions.
“I have a big family. After the flood, all our domestic things and our home had been washed away. If I go to buy things, the road is damaged.” – Wafiya *
Gospel for Asia Compassion Services teams surveyed the damage and determined how much relief was needed in each area.
Travel was difficult, as many of the roads were completely destroyed in the flood or blocked by landslides
Through prayer, perseverance and some help from the local government, our teams found ways to reach even the most remote villages.
Teams brought with them rice, lentils, sugar, salt, spices, potatoes and other basic food and survival supplies.
Teams set up distribution programs in central areas so people from many villages could reach them.
Survivors anxiously waited to find out if there would be enough relief supplies to sustain their families.
Families received vouchers to ensure supplies were distributed evenly among attendees.
“I am grateful to this church for having concern for these people,” said a local official. “These people are in great need. Many of them have lost all their belongings, and now they are [living] on the road.”*
At one distribution, people from nine villages waited in line for supplies.
“I never thought this would happen to me. I had everything,” said Ekaksha, a former hotel owner. “I was a wealthy man. … I used to give food to people, but now I am begging.”*
Compassion Services team members distributed first aid kits to men and women who needed them.
“I am very thankful for the church. … Due to the landslide, there is no electricity. We were living in darkness. I was borrowing a lamp from my neighbor, but thank you for providing candles and other things.” –Sambha *
Compassion Services teams also shared the hope of Christ with recipients through literature placed in each relief packet.
Compassion Services team members stopped for breaks after long days of distributing food, first aid kits and Gospel literature to many men and women.
Relief recipients, young and old, were overwhelmed with gratitude to the Compassion Services teams for bringing practical help in their time of desperate need.
Families had little time to rest before heading back to the loved ones they left behind.
The people gathered their blankets, tarps, first aid kits and other supplies and determined the best ways to transport them home.
One group had a 25 mile journey back to their village, but the trip was well worth it.
“We have faced death,” said one survivor, “and [now] by God’s grace, we are safe.”*
*Not all quotes correspond with people in the photos.
Update: Compassion Services Team Reach Out to 600 Families
July 16, 2013
Villagers crowded around the Compassion Services teams as they distributed flood relief materials. In one area, 80 villages are cut off from local markets.
“There are no roadways because the only bridge that connects my village to the city has collapsed. ... Thank you very much for bringing supplies.” — Qatadah, relief recipient
Many women were widowed by the flood and have no source of income.
“I have lost my father and two younger brothers in this disaster,” a man said with tears in his eyes. “Now there is no one to look after my family. My mother is in great sorrow.”
“I lost my cattle. After selling the milk, I was surviving with my family, but now there is no means of surviving. I do not have anything right now. I have come to receive the supplies. Thank you very much for providing.” — Kaandhal, relief recipient
“I lost everything in this tragedy. ... I am a farmer and I do not have anything now, but your help is very essential and meaningful for my family. Thank you very much for your help.” — Laavanya, relief recipient
Team members distributed first-aid kits and showed how to use them.
Compassion Services teams also shared the hope of Christ through literature included in relief packets.
Some villagers were able to bring vehicles to load up with rice, flour, oil, candles and more.
Others walked up to 25 miles, both ways, to bring home necessities.
“I never thought this would happen to me. I had everything. I was a wealthy man. ... I used to give food to people, but today I am begging.” — Ekaksha, relief recipient
“My legs are in pain,” one man said after a long journey to the relief site, “but there was no food, so I came.”
With the local government’s help, Pastor Baha Udeen loaded supplies onto a helicopter to take to villages cut off by the flooding.
He took six trips with supplies for 94 families in two villages.
“[No one else] brought any help to us. We are grateful to you.” — Wafeeq, relief recipient
The Compassion Services teams rejoiced to know this once unreached village now has provisions and knowledge of Jesus.
In two days, Compassion Services teams helped 600 families suffering from floods in North India.
Update: Floods Kill 130 in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
July 18, 2013
Floods caused by monsoon rains have killed nearly 130 people and are affecting more than 1 million in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
More than 100 villages in Bihar were flooded over the course of 24 hours on July 11, and rising water levels in several rivers threaten many more villages. The government asked engineers to keep a 24-hour vigil to protect the embankments.
Gospel for Asia pastor Tanmay reported 12 of his believers’ homes were underwater, three of which were completely destroyed. The pastor and members of his congregation are taking shelter on the roadside.
Flood victims in Uttar Pradesh received a break when the rain stopped for two days, but the inclement weather soon returned, submerging 35 homes belonging to believers. A total of 700 villages are inundated.
Two days of heavy rain flooded an administrative campus for GFA missionaries, making it difficult to even walk between buildings. Staff there are working to increase drainage, a project faced by many across the city.
In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Compassion Services teams are surveying the hit areas to see how they can provide help.
Please pray for:
- Wisdom and understanding as teams create plans to help each area.
- Comfort for those who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the floods.
- Protection for those waiting for relief, especially those trapped or separated from family.
- God’s love to shine brightly in this dark time, that many may know Him.
Update: Thousands of Homes Underwater in Nepal
July 12, 2013
As the Indian state of Uttarakhand is overtaken by flooding, thousands of homes in neighboring Nepal are completely underwater or washed away. Floodwaters and landslides from the heavy monsoon have displaced thousands of people.
"Roads are cut off and people are trapped here," a Gospel for Asia correspondent said of one village. "More than 1,200 houses are fully covered by water."
In another village, Pastor Ekakshara reported his church was covered by water, and six houses and two people were washed away.
In Uttarakhand, Compassion Services teams provided relief to four additional villages on July 11. The only shops in the area are roughly seven miles from the villages, making it difficult for the people to get things they need to survive each day and recover their losses.
"While the flood was washing away their household possessions, they were running to save their lives and children," said a GFA correspondent.
Compassion Services workers put together relief packets of rice, lentils, flour, oil, spices and a blanket for each family. In all, 55 families came to the distribution.
"The church has great concern about our lives," said local resident Quarrtulain. "That is why you came to our door. Even the other day . . . people came with relief work, but . . . they asked us to come to the main market, which is seven miles away from here. Due to my sorrow, I could not go there, but thank you very much for your church leadership who sent provision for us."
Please pray for:
- Cleared roads for Compassion Services teams to make their ways to affected areas.
- Waters to recede and sunny weather.
- Safety for our teams and for everyone in the flooded area.
- Victims of this flooding to know God's love during this time.
Update: Compassion Services Team Reaches One of Worst-Hit Areas
July 10, 2013
Families received food to last a month, which included rice, lentils, sugar, salt, masala mix, potatoes, onions and soybeans.
“There are no words to thank the work that church is doing,” said a villager. “Thank you very much.”
The Compassion Services team expected to serve 100 families, but they ended up serving 200.
Families were given vouchers to ensure that all supplies were distributed fairly.
Recipients were careful to keep their supplies organized and guarded before they went home.
After being isolated and helpless for days, families were eager to bring home a wealth of survival supplies.
Men and women traveled back to their villages laden with supplies.
In addition to food, locals received blankets, tarps and raincoats to keep them warm and dry.
The people found creative ways to carry their new supplies.
The walk home was difficult but worth the effort.
Intense monsoon rains caused a river near a pilgrimage site to overflow and wipe out homes and roads.
Most families in this town lost their homes, while others suffered severe damage.
As the river’s water began to rise on June 16, families near the shore scrambled to higher ground.
A man watches the place where his home used to stand.
Floodwaters ripped apart homes and, many times, whisked away every possession inside.
The violence of the flood reached beyond the thatched huts and destroyed even the more durable homes.
Relief teams are struggling to reach villages blocked by landslides, ruined roads and flooding.
Unable to contact the outside world, flood victims can only wait for aid to arrive.
Because of the extensive damage done to roads and land, many towns and villages are only reachable by government helicopter.
Communication with villages is nearly impossible in many areas, as power lines are down and there is no electricity.
In some areas, entire towns have been washed away. There is nothing left but debris and the devastating aftermath of the storms.
Buildings have not been able to withstand the rushing floodwaters. Walls are giving way and structures are collapsing under the pressure.
Homes have been submerged and destroyed because of the floods.
A woman stands on a roof watching the destruction of the flood waters.
After being halted by a landslide, one of two Gospel for Asia Compassion Services teams reached the village where it planned to offer flood relief in India's Uttarakhand state. Meanwhile, the second team still waits to continue toward another destination. Pastor Baha Udeen, who is overseeing relief efforts from the monsoon floods, described the teams' progress on July 9:
"The first team . . . has started distribution. People are coming after walking long distances to our distribution center.
"Our second team is still 10 kilometers from its destination. The road is blocked. We are barely 18 miles from the point of impact. There has been no help in these areas for the last 23 days.
"Even as I send this text message, the hill on which we stand is making huge noises and sinking into the river. Locals say many are still trapped near the impact point. Rescue operations are still underway as helicopters fly over us.
"Please pray God will help us [the second team] to somehow reach our destination, even if we need to carry relief materials on our back. Pray God will protect us."
The first team has since finished its distribution, and the second team remains blocked by damaged roads. While they wait, the second team has distributed supplies to 200 nearby families, and with the help of the government, Pastor Baha Udeen took supplies by helicopter to the last known village beyond the point of impact.
Please pray for:
- Clear, fixed roads so the second team can reach its final destination.
- Enough supplies and easy access for every family in need.
- Strength and protection for the teams as they travel and deliver supplies.
- People to clearly see God's love in our Compassion Services teams.
Update: Landslide Blocks Two Compassion Services Teams
July 8, 2013
After 19 days of flooding in northern India, Gospel for Asia Compassion Services teams planned to expand their efforts to new districts, but landslides, heavy traffic and continued rain have delayed their journey.
Two teams set out Sunday, June 7, to help more than 600 families in 11 villages. Government officials agreed to support the teams in distributing rice, lentils, cooking oil, tarps, first-aid kits, blankets and other supplies.
Less than two hours into the trips, a landslide blocked both teams from traveling any farther.
Please pray for:
- Both teams to reach each area in a timely manner and have successful distribution programs.
- Protection and good weather for all of our teams as they travel and distribute supplies.
- Cleared roads and new routes to affected areas.
- Recipients to see and understand God's love through the care of the teams.
Update: Compassion Services Team Serves 200 Families
July 2, 2013
After traveling 16 hours along treacherous roads, half of Pastor Baha Udeen's 11-member Compassion Services team arrived June 26 to serve families in one of the areas hit hardest by the flooding in North India.
While they waited for the second vehicle, which broke down due to the combination of steep climbs and a heavy load of supplies, team members surveyed the area and gave vouchers to needy families. The next morning, the second vehicle arrived, and the team began distributing supplies.
Families came from nine villages and colonies for relief. During a previous trip to survey the need, the team had asked families cut off from roads and communications to come to a central location where everyone could be served. By late afternoon, every village in the area had heard about the distribution, and people rushed to stand in line for supplies.
"Our target had been [to help] 100 families," said Pastor Baha Udeen, "but at the end of the day, and after a complete counting, we realized we had provided help to approximately 200 families."
When the flood hit on the evening of June 16, many of the villagers left their homes to sleep in a local school building built on higher ground. That night, a local river overflowed, wiping out almost all the houses and destroying most of the roads in the area. A new route to the victims wasn't opened until June 20.
Team Provides Long-Awaited Relief
When the Compassion Services team began handing out supplies, one mother and son had not eaten for three days. They said words could not express their thanks.
Others told the team they were the first relief group to bring what the villagers actually needed.
"No other group has done for the area as much as this church," said a local leader. "We have been blessed that you have come."
Relief kits included rice, oil, salt, potatoes, first-aid kits, tarps, raincoats, blankets and other necessary supplies. Although the team served double the number of people expected, families were overwhelmed by how much help they received.
"I have a big family," said Wafiya, a local resident. "After the flood, all our domestic things and our home had been washed away. If I go to buy things, the road is damaged. What was I to do? I was wondering how to feed my small children, but thank you for providing provisions. They will last at least one month."
Along with survival supplies, the team also handed out Gospel literature, and by the end of the day many of the locals asked them to start a church service so they could learn more about Jesus.
"No other group has concern for us, but this church came from a long distance and helped us," said local resident Baanbhatt. "I am greatly thankful to them."
Please pray for:
- Continued protection, strength and guidance for all our Compassion Services teams.
- More supplies to distribute.
- Flood victims to clearly see God's love in our relief efforts.
- Comfort for affected individuals, especially those who lost loved ones.
Update: Flood Relief Efforts
June 28, 2013
A Gospel for Asia Compassion Services team lead by Pastor Baha Udeen was able to distribute relief materials and Gospel tracts to approximately 100 families who were impacted by the devastating floods in India.
Please pray for:
- Relief and restoration for the thousands of people stranded by flood waters and destruction.
- Strength and protection for our Compassion Services teams.
Update: Death Toll Passes 1,000 in Northern India
June 26, 2013
The death toll in Nepal and northern India surpassed 1,000 people Monday after soldiers discovered more victims from the torrential monsoon floods plaguing the area.
Some 10,000 people remain stranded in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, a popular summer destination for tourists and religious visitors. The monsoon hit the state a month earlier than it had for the past half century, catching visitors and residents entirely unprepared.
At least 187 bodies have been uncovered from a popular pilgrimage town where Nabhanyu was visiting with a group of 40 to 50 other people when the flooding began on June 16.
"I saw the disaster with my own eyes," Nabhanyu said. "I had come to pray to my deity, but I never knew this mishap would happen to us. While the water was entering into the parking area, I, along with other people, ran and reached a safe place. But I'm sad to say our two buses and drivers were washed away in the floodwaters."
With tears in his eyes, he said, "I will never come again to this place."
A Gospel for Asia Compassion Services team struggled to help those affected, as landslides blocked the only road leading to this particular area. After 12 hours of travel, the team decided to see what they could do for a nearby, more accessible town.
"After seeing the condition of the flood victims, our hearts were broken," said a GFA correspondent. "They had not eaten food for over five days. They were surviving with water and some tea biscuits.
"Some were complaining about pain in their bodies," he continued. "We saw some women who had been injured while trying to escape from rushing floodwaters. There was a lady whose leg was swelling from her injury."
After traveling farther, the team postponed its travel plans again on Tuesday, with hopes of continuing the next day. Equipped with rations, raincoats, tarps, medicine and other supplies, they started out at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning only to have their truck break down about halfway through their journey.
With six hours left until they reach their destination, they are praying to arrive before nightfall.
"Almost 100 families are waiting for us," said Pastor Baha Udeen.
Government officials anticipate three years of rebuilding the state's destroyed infrastructure.
Please pray for:
- Relief from the heavy rain and floods.
- Roads to be cleared and travel to resume safely.
- Strength and providence for those waiting on relief teams.
- Ample supplies to care for the afflicted.
- Success for those still searching for loved ones.
Update: Heaviest Rains India has Seen in Nearly 80 Years
June 25, 2013
Heavy monsoon rains continue to fall in Nepal and northern India, causing extensive damage. Homes, bridges and entire roads have been washed away, leaving thousands stranded and many more people missing or dead.
The death toll is currently around 600. The final count has yet to be determined as rescue efforts are still taking place, and several areas cannot be reached because of landslides and washed out roads.
Reports indicate 80,000 people have been rescued from their desperate condition, but thousands more await help.
One Bridge of Hope student's home was destroyed, and two other students' families lost their fields to the flood waters.
Another survivor shared about a life-saving phone call from his uncle:
"He told me, ‘Rush out of the house. Climb up. Don't take anything from home. Just climb uphill. Don't come down.' We all ran out. Within a few minutes, a huge wall of water came at a huge intensity toward our town. Most people survived, but everything else was gone."
Gospel for Asia Compassion Services teams are doing everything possible to reach the people most affected by the catastrophic events. A group of workers made their way to a village on June 23, where they reported they smelled the stench of dead bodies long before they saw them. Survivors are suffering without food, electricity and roads.
The same Compassion Services team plans to visit a district on June 25 to distribute food to those who have lost their homes and are staying in shelters. More than just the delivery of food, blankets and medical supplies, these men and women are traveling with the aim to share the love of Christ with those in need.
Offered the chance to return to safer grounds, a GFA pastor's family said, "There are hundreds suffering here. We will provide relief to them, and then we will go back."
Heavy rains are still expected in this area.
"The danger is not yet over," said a GFA field correspondent.
GFA missionaries request prayer for:
- Peaceful weather and for the relief work to continue.
- Rescue and restoration for the thousands of people stranded by flood waters and destruction.
- Strength and protection for our Compassion Services teams.
- Floods destroyed the National Highway in one area, and the only other mountain road is long and narrow, with more than 20 landslides endangering vehicles and passengers. Please pray for missionaries as they transport relief materials.
News Release: North India's Flooding Considered One of the Worst Natural Disasters in History of India
June 20, 2013
Incessant monsoon rains over the past three days have caused severe damage in the western part of Nepal and in India. While an official death toll has not been counted, estimates suggest that at least 180 people have lost their lives as they were swept away by the rushing floodwaters or crushed by landslides.
In Nepal, more than 39 people have died and at least 2,000 individuals have either temporarily or permanently lost their homes. Several Gospel for Asia-supported churches lie in the affected regions, although none of the churches have been damaged. The house of one church member and his family, however, was completely destroyed.
The repercussions of the torrential downpour look similar in northern India. Reports indicate that more than 150 people have died. In certain areas, roads have been so damaged that relief has only come thus far by way of government helicopters.
One affected district is home to a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center and a GFA-supported pastor. His congregation and the Bridge of Hope families have not been harmed by the floods, but they live near another area where several locals and tourists have been stranded because of the vast destruction.
A Gospel for Asia pastor witnessed many families weeping as their houses were washed away.
Gospel for Asia workers are currently looking for ways to provide immediate help to the men and women in this desperate situation.
"We must pray for those who have lost loved ones, homes and every material possession they own," said K.P. Yohannan. "Pray for the rescue of the missing and the stranded and that God would restore good weather in this area. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we must respond to this situation."