Gospel for Asia missionaries and local church leaders moved out from Yangon (Rangoon) Thursday morning to go into Myanmar’s cyclone-devastated villages and search for survivors, according to a GFA correspondent inside the ravaged country.
Five teams were sent out to survey the damage and begin assessing the needs of the traumatized survivors. The teams included students from GFA’s Bible college in Yangon, which has become a center of ministry to survivors in Myanmar’s largest city.
One of the teams is being led by the school’s dean of students. The GFA country leader is directing the relief efforts at the college, which includes providing desperately needed food and water to survivors staying on and near the campus.“The suffering of the people is unimaginable,”…
“Hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—are homeless.”
The campus itself was badly damaged, but some buildings were strong enough to house survivors on a temporary basis.
GFA President K.P. Yohannan has issued an urgent plea for focused prayer as the situation has continued to grow ever more critical.
“The number of dead will probably be over 100,000,” K.P. said from India, where he is working to get GFA relief materials into the beleaguered country. “Vast areas were completely drowned under the water. Now, with dead bodies littering the countryside and food and water running out, we must pray that the government will allow these much-needed supplies into the country.
“I am also asking Christians around the world to pray for our 500 missionaries in Burma, and for our 250 Bible college students.”
K.P. also called for prayer for the thousands of believers who worship in more than 400 churches and 250 mission stations.
“Please pray that God will protect their health,” he emphasized, noting that disease is expected to sweep the southern part of the country, where 120-mile-per-hour winds and a 12-foot storm surge swept away villages, farmland, animals and people early Saturday morning.
“The suffering of the people is unimaginable,” K.P. reported. “Hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—are homeless. Food and clean water are quickly running out. Electricity may be out for months. People have lost literally everything.”
A few U.N. aid flights have been allowed to land in Rangoon, but only a handful of outside aid workers have been granted visas.
“For us, the issue is not as much visas as it is getting supplies into the affected areas,” K.P. explained. “Our people are already on the ground. Our national leader is organizing the relief efforts. And he is trying to arrange for our materials to get in. But they need much more—and they need much prayer.
“We are working to get some of our workers into Burma from India,” he noted, “but right now we are relying on our Burmese workers and church members who are helping every way they can to alleviate the suffering.
“Most importantly, they are bringing the hope of Jesus Christ into the situation. One of the things we learned in the wake of the Asian tsunami was that even when we bring physical aid, the emotional and spiritual needs are even greater.
“I still remember when one of our missionaries read Scripture to a woman who was about to walk into the ocean and drown herself because she had lost everything in the tsunami,” he recounted. “She had received food and clothing and shelter—but she had lost her entire family and didn’t want to live anymore. It was only the Good News of the Gospel that saved her.
“Even as we minister in the wake of this cyclone, we must never forget what man’s deepest needs are.”