Mission group reaches out to Bengal cyclone victims

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Gospel for Asia's West Bengal headquarters has become a makeshift shelter for cyclone Aila victims. Everyone involved in the ministry is assisting in the relief effort to rescue the thousands whose possessions and dreams were washed away by the storm.

"The love of the Lord and His compassion have seized our hearts to do something for our dear people who have been affected by this dreadful cyclone," a GFA-supported missionary pastor wrote. "We have already sent some money to our district leader to buy essential commodities for the believers."

The cyclone ripped through West Bengal and Bangladesh on May 25, killing an estimated 200 people and driving a million others from their homes.  "At least 13 islands have been devastated by the cyclone," a GFA correspondent wrote, describing the scene. "Each island is filled with salt water, and people find it difficult to find fresh water to drink.  The main source of income for them was the fish in their ponds. Since the salt water has completely filled fields and ponds, most of the fish died. Most of the cattle died without food and water. The future of many thousands is a big question mark!"

In one area, every child who attends a GFA Bridge of Hope center is now homeless because of the storm. The parents, most of whom make their living through subsistence farming and other agricultural pursuits, are at a loss.

"Children are crying without proper food, and parents have lost hope. They look at the sky and weep. We can give no answer when they ask us with tears, 'Where will we go now? We have no home, no cattle, no fields .'" the correspondent wrote.

The cyclone hit just as the area's rice paddies were ready for harvest. The salt water brought ashore by the cyclone destroyed crops and leveled houses.  The death toll continues to climb. Some of the new deaths are not from the storm itself, but are related to its aftermath. Landslides in Darjeeling killed 24 people.

GFA workers in West Bengal are giving out of their own limited resources to help provide immediate assistance. But much more will be needed to provide long-term needs and help people restore their lives.  GFA President K.P. Yohannan, speaking from the organization's Carrollton, Tex., headquarters, urged American Christians to support the relief efforts of the Indian believers, both through prayers and with gifts.

"We are inspired by the willingness of the believers of West Bengal to sacrifice what little they have to come to the aid of their suffering countrymen, but the need is far beyond what they will be able to provide," Yohannan said.  "It is fitting that we, too, help our spiritual brothers and sisters in this time of great need."

To donate to Cyclone Relief go to Gospel for Asia.

EP News

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