Tsunami survivors receive new homes


TAMIL NADU, INDIA — Two years have passed since the Asian tsunami took lives and swallowed up homes, possessions and livelihoods in South Asia. It's been an agonizing 24 months, but now 50 families in Tamil Nadu, India, are eagerly watching as their new homes are being built. Gospel for Asia's Compassion Services is constructing these homes in this hard-hit southern Indian state.

The 50 houses are modest by Western standards. Built with concrete blocks, each home consists of a living room, kitchen, a bedroom and bathroom, with doors and window frames made of wood. But what these homes lack in size and extravagance is made up for in sturdiness and reliability. For many of these families, it will be the first time they've had a real roof over their heads since December 25, 2004—the day before the tsunami struck.

In both India and Sri Lanka, GFA Compassion Services teams were among the first on the scene in the days after the waves struck. Initially, GFA missionaries and volunteers simply provided for the immediate needs—providing food, water, clothing and tents for makeshift shelter.

The Compassion Services teams also took on the seemingly insurmountable task of caring for hundreds of children displaced by the disaster. They also spent hours ministering to spiritual needs, praying with literally thousands.

As the immediate shock of the disaster passed, the teams shifted gears and began seeking alternatives to provide for the long-term needs of the people. Gospel for Asia missionaries and Compassion Services volunteers began the process of planning and constructing homes for the survivors. But official permission to begin the construction project was slow in coming.

Also, as the missionaries pursued the homebuilding project, they came under attack from anti-Christian groups. These groups, which sometimes had local law enforcement on their side, threatened the Christians and restricted their activities. In spite of the circumstances, however, as the missionaries continued to minister and the people became more and more open to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

After much prayer, the request to build new homes for survivors was granted. As the people of Tamil Nadu mark the second anniversary of the tsunami, some families are rejoicing as the walls of their new houses go up. After living in tents for more than two years, it will be a tremendous blessing to walk across the threshold of their new homes.