Drought Victims Discover Eternal Hope
Once known for producing quality grain, oil and sugar, a district in India now illustrates the devastating effects of drought. The main river nourishing this area has nearly dried up, along with all other water sources, creating a desperate situation for thousands of villagers.
Dry fields have replaced lush crops, shattering the livelihoods of many people and forcing hundreds of villagers to abandon their homes in search of city jobs. Tragically, many farmers saw no hope on the horizon and chose to end their lives.
Government workers are striving to provide water for drought-stricken families, but railways do not reach remote areas, and many villagers still struggle to survive.
In this heartbreaking situation, Gospel for Asia-supported workers are shining God's love by meeting villagers' practical needs and bringing comfort to the hurting.
Providing Relief in Christ's Name
Although no Gospel for Asia-supported workers had already been serving in this drought-stricken area, they soon recognized the villagers' plight and wanted to help. They identified 12 needy villages and utilized water tankers to make daily water deliveries. Each day, approximately 1,500 families received water through the distributions.
In addition, local village leaders helped relief workers select 1,000 families to receive one month's supply of food rations. The beneficiaries were mainly widows, family members of farmers who committed suicide and others severely affected by the drought.
Due to the extreme water crisis, relief teams plan to drill about 20 Jesus Wells in the neediest villages. Preparations to help the children of these communities through new Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope centers have also started. Both of these projects will help relieve the physical needs of these communities, while demonstrating God's compassion in tangible ways.
Communities Discover the Living Water
Beyond meeting villagers' physical needs, the Lord is working through relief teams to shine eternal hope into communities.
Lijan, a Christian in this hard-hit region, rented out a house to a team of Gospel for Asia-supported relief workers ministering to his village. As he observed the relief workers and read their literature about Christ, Lijan was challenged to deepen his walk with the Lord. He asked the team to pray for his family, and now prayer meetings are being held in his home.
While distributing water each day, the team members invited villagers to come for prayer. Gradually, other villagers began attending the meeting and learning about Christ's grace with Lijan's family.
The group grew to 15 villagers—the beginning of a local fellowship in Lijan's village! News about God's gift of hope spread to nearby villages, and a group of 10 people began gathering in another community for prayer meetings.
By helping quench villagers' physical thirst, relief teams have also helped people discover the Living Water. Although hopelessness and destruction typically follow the heels of drought, these families are instead finding comfort and courage through Christ.
- God will continue to provide for the needs of villagers in this drought-stricken region.
- Many communities will be blessed through Jesus Wells and Bridge of Hope centers.
- Many villagers will find hope in Christ through these new local fellowships.
Soaring Temperatures Increase Water Crisis, New Wells Provide Relief
Extreme temperatures continue to scorch Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two states of India, making their existing water crisis even more desperate. Many areas of Rajasthan are experiencing temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, receiving little relief during night hours. Some areas even recorded daytime temperatures of 117 degrees Fahrenheit.
Villagers are struggling to find water, and daily life is being made difficult by the intense heat. According to a prominent Indian newspaper, the water crisis is impacting nearly 17,000 of Rajasthan's 44,600 villages.
Water Crisis Disturbs Daily Life, Causes Illness
Women and daughters are facing the brunt of the water crisis. While the men are looking for jobs to provide food, the women and their daughters are spending hours walking long distances in search of drinking water.
"Women and girl children trudge barefoot in the hot sun for hours over wastelands, across thorny fields or rough terrain in search of water," one field correspondent wrote. "In every household, particularly in the rural areas, women and girl children bear the responsibility of collecting, providing and managing water. ... Women spend most of their time collecting water, with little time for other productive work."
Two Gospel for Asia-supported pastors shared that heat-related illnesses are troubling their children or believers in their local congregations. Many pastors in Rajasthan are struggling to minister because of the severe heat. Dehydration and heatstroke are serious concerns.
46 Jesus Wells Drilled in Drought-affected Areas
Gospel for Asia-supported workers successfully inaugurated 46 new Jesus Wells in drought-stricken areas of rural Rajasthan. These sources of abundant, fresh water now exist in areas that were previously suffering with severe water scarcity. Women and children no longer have to walk for hours to find water, and they can invest their time in other beneficial work for their families.
Villagers in these communities expressed deep gratitude for the gift of clean water.
"I'm really thankful to the church for the installation of a bore well and for the concern towards my village," one beneficiary shared.
Each Jesus Well dramatically reduces the water crisis in these villages, yet many more villages are still in desperate need of water.
- For cooler weather and rain to refresh these dry regions.
- God will heal those suffering from heat-related sicknesses and protect those exposed to the heat for long periods of time.
- Gospel for Asia-supported workers will have the ability to drill more Jesus Wells in needy areas.
- Government workers providing water via tanker trucks will have wisdom in prioritizing which areas need water.
Update: Severe Drought Continues, Compassion Services Teams Bring Relief
India's water crisis continues as millions of people struggle daily to find water. Gospel for Asia-supported Compassion Services teams are mobilizing to provide relief to several of the hardest-hit regions.
Water Tankers Deliver Relief
On April 29, Gospel for Asia-supported workers in Maharashtra, India, launched a drought-relief campaign, providing water for four villages through the use of water tankers. Desperation was evident as hundreds of villagers crowded around the water tankers and relief workers struggled to maintain order.
One woman explained their plight, stating they were provided with water every 15 days, but that amount of water was not even sufficient for two days. The women walked miles each day in search of additional water for their families.
Gospel for Asia-supported workers in this area plan to regularly provide water for 12 of the neediest villages in this district. They are also working alongside local officials to supply monthly rations to 1,000 needy families in these villages.
"We are so happy to hear that [the Church] is going to supply water on a regular basis," one woman expressed. "Through this initiative, one of our greatest tensions is solved. Thank you so much."
Jesus Well Provides Water for Village
A village in another region of Maharashtra has been under severe drought for the past three years. Once sustained by agriculture, the villagers are now forced to look for work in other areas while their fields lie dry and parched. Until recently, women spent many hours collecting water from small water sources, waiting in long lines only to come home with a portion of the amount needed for normal life.
Their dire situation changed after Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Mishu observed the need for water in this village and prayed for a way to help the desperate villagers. Soon, a believer in this village donated land for a bore well to be drilled. After obtaining permission from local authorities to install a Jesus Well, the villagers now have sufficient water from a Jesus Well within their own village.
"We had to wake up early in the morning in order to bring water from far-away places," explains Arjan, one of the beneficiaries. "Without sufficient water, we struggled a lot. At present, one of our major problems is solved."
Thousands of Families Receive Drinking Water Daily
On April 3, Gospel for Asia-supported workers in the neighboring state of Telangana initiated a campaign to bring drinking water to two severely affected districts. They are currently providing 20 villages—approximately 25,000 families—with sufficient drinking water through daily deliveries by water tanks. Their goal is to expand their relief work to 100,000 families.
The villagers and village officials are deeply grateful for the aid received from Gospel for Asia-supported teams. Relief work will continue until seasonal rains bring respite from the intense drought.
- Gospel for Asia-supported workers will have the means to provide drinking water for many more villages.
- Those living in intense heat with little water will be protected from the devastating effects of dehydration.
- God will provide rain and relief from this water crisis.
Drought Develops into Severe Water Crisis, Affects Millions
Severe drought and intense heat have plunged millions of people from three states of India into a water crisis. Authorities are mobilizing relief by delivering water to thirsty areas via railways and water tankers, yet thousands of villages face ongoing water scarcity as temperatures continue to climb.
Nearly 17,000 villages in Rajasthan, India, are dealing with severe water shortages. Of Rajasthan's 33 districts, 19 are facing this current water crisis. The water scarcity impacts 13 Bridge of Hope centers and dozens of Gospel for Asia-supported workers in the area, making it difficult for them to maintain normal daily life.
"Currently, every pastor is facing challenges around their dwelling places due to insufficient water in bore wells," one Gospel for Asia-supported worker shared.
In one region of Maharashtra, India, four years of drought forced villagers to move to larger cities in search of reliable water sources. Water scarcity has grown worse, however, and now endangers cities as well. Recognizing the mounting tension over the need for water, local authorities took steps to prevent violent outbreaks by ordering that no more than five people at a time may gather around water storage tanks.
Currently, Gospel for Asia-supported workers are working alongside local community leaders to find new ways to help the desperate people of this region. They hope to supply water to this area by truck and by drilling Jesus Wells to help relieve the water crisis.
Telangana, India, is all too familiar with drought and intense heat. In 2015, Telangana and the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh struggled through the fifth deadliest heat wave in the world, which killed around 1,000 people, according to local news. During Telangana's current drought, temperatures reaching 109 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded. As many as 66 people have already died due to sunstroke. To make matters worse, drought often drives desperate farmers to suicide.
Water levels have reached new lows, dropping so extremely that even some previously installed Jesus Wells—which normally provide water during intense droughts—are failing to reach the lowered water table. Bore wells throughout the state are running dry, and water reservoirs are alarmingly low.
Gospel for Asia-supported workers will continue to seek opportunities to bring aid to those struggling without water. Please join us in prayer for the people in these parched lands.
- The Lord will send relief from drought and intense heat.
- Government officials will have wisdom while responding to this crisis.
- Gospel for Asia-supported workers will have opportunities to help provide water for these areas.
*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.