Floodwaters are making travel nearly impossible for some people in Sri Lanka.
Water rushes past a flood control dam in Sri Lanka.
The strong storms brought down trees and power lines as well.
A GFA Compassion Services worker wades through a flooded street to bring food to people affected by the floods.
These people are dodging high water in order to get back to shelter with the bags of emergency food supplies they received from GFA Compassion Services teams.
This woman received a bag containing emergency food rations, along with soap to help prevent the spread of disease. GFA Compassion Services teams handed out 200 bags on Sunday, and they are preparing hundreds more to assist people affected by Sri Lanka’s massive flooding.
Gospel for Asia-supported missionary Anthony lost his home and everything in it as floodwaters washed through his village this week in Sri Lanka.
Anthony, who also serves as a pastor in the Batticaloa district, took refuge with relatives. Thankfully, he, his wife and children all escaped injury as the house collapsed due to the flood waters, but they did lose all of their possessions.
Anthony, and hundreds of believers from churches led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastors, are reeling from this blow. They have lost their homes, their crops lay ruined and they have nowhere to turn for help.
The Latest Blow
Sri Lanka has borne the brunt of several major flooding events in the last 12 months. This latest flood is the result of unusually heavy monsoon rains that began in November and continue to fall. The worst-affected areas are in central and eastern Sri Lanka—with the districts of Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee seeing the most damage.
The people in this region of Sri Lanka were just beginning to emerge from the horrors of a 20-year-old civil war, which ended in 2009. Many had finally made strides in recovering from the 2004 Asian Tsunami, which devastated much of this same coastal region.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million people have been affected by this round of floods—more than half of them in the Batticaloa district alone. The death toll stands at 18 and includes a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl who were killed in landslides on Sunday.
The Sri Lankan military has even been called out to rescue hundreds of people who were trapped in the flood waters.
At least 5,000 homes have been washed away and more than 200,000 acres of crops—including the country’s staple rice paddies—are under water.
“The people of Sri Lanka are suffering in a way that is almost unimaginable,” said Gospel for Asia President, Dr. K.P. Yohannan. “The country has not yet recovered from the record rainfalls that brought severe flooding last year, and now they are battling the same thing again. They need relief, and they need our prayers.”
Gospel for Asia Compassion Services teams are already venturing out into the affected areas to bring emergency relief to the people. On Sunday, they took 200 food packets to people in the Batticaloa region. Each food packet contained rice, lentil beans (dhal), sugar, dried fish and soya meat (soy protein and meat substitute). The families also received soap so they can prevent the spread of disease which happens frequently after floods.
The teams also handed out mats to the people who are sleeping on the floors in the emergency shelters, which are mostly in schools.
Feeding Body and Soul
The teams do not just drop off food and run on to their next destination. They spend time with the people, who are desperate for someone to listen to their sorrows.
“Gospel for Asia’s Compassion Services Teams are there to help, to listen, to pray and to share the love found in Jesus Christ,” Dr. Yohannan explained. “Of course we will meet their immediate physical needs, but we’ll also be there to tell them about a cure for their spiritual hunger and a love that will long outlast the food we give them.”
The teams encountered difficulty reaching the affected areas because of high water; however, they persisted and their vehicles were able to make it through some of the flooding, for which they are thanking the Lord.
“I spoke with our Sri Lanka country leader early Thursday morning, and he was heartbroken as told me about the massive devastation,” Dr. Yohannan said. “I assured him that our commitment to care for the suffering is strong and that we will commit whatever resources necessary to help these people rebuild their lives. We will continue to get teams in to deliver emergency supplies as long as necessary, and we’ll also commit to working with them for the long-term.”
Dr. Yohannan shared the following prayer requests for Sri Lanka:
- Pray that the Lord’s mighty hands would be upon this area and that He would cause the weather conditions to change and bring relief to the beleagured people.
- Finding food and drinking water is a major problem. Pray that the teams would be able to get in with emergency rations and that the Lord would provide for the needs of the people.
- Pray for protection for the people. Many of those who lost homes are now living exposed to the elements or in crowded shelters, sharing space with hundreds of other families.
- Pray for the people who have lost all their crops and are now without their major income source for the year.
- Pray for the people who are helping the flood victims, that the Lord will give them strength to keep going forward and bring aid.
- Please pray for the Lord to miraculously provide a way for our teams to get to the people who are inaccessible due to flooded roads.