Pakistan (MNN) ― Satellite communications centers in the Pakistani cities of Balakot and Muzaffarabad are facilitating aid organizations to provide relief and quickly meet needs of earthquake victims.
Set up by PACTEC, Mission Aviation Fellowship's humanitarian subsidiary, the centers are in key areas where aid and humanitarian workers have centralized their efforts. MAF's Kevin Swanson says the victims are the biggest concern right now, and he doesn't think that most people have really understood the full magnitude of the crisis in Pakistan.
Swanson says, "As the details have become better known, it far exceeds the devastation from the tsunami there in Southeast Asia, which is hard to imagine. But the problem is that so many people had their houses destroyed in this earthquake, and really at the very beginning of the winter months. And for literally millions of people to be left homeless in this type of terrain - which is extremely rugged, very few roads and the roads that were there are blocked because of landslides and things - these people are just literally without hope unless aid is able to get to them."
That's where PACTEC comes in with their crucial communcations services. Swanson says agencies aren't used to coming into such a devastated situation and yet being able to have such excellent communication, "This allows an aid worker to have voice communication with their home office. It allows them to have internet connectivity so that they can be in constant contact with the people that resource their particular ministries, and hopefully get the most aid to the people that need it the most in the quickest manner."
But the communications centers have facilitated more than physical aid; they've opened doors to the Gospel. Swanson says, "I believe that God works in these situations to bring glory to himself and to open up areas that might have been closed prior to that."
And God has been at work. The Pakistani military came to PACTEC workers and said they wanted to have a Christmas party for the humanitarian aid workers, including reading the Biblical Christmas story. Swanson says, "And they were able to, together with Pakistani military people and folks that have maybe never even heard the Christmas story before, read God's Word, let it speak for itself. And they said that in the course of this Christmas party, that during that particular time when they were reading the Christmas story, it was absolutely silent."
It was a powerful opportunity, and one that Swanson says is simply God doing His work through His people, "We never know how God is going to work, and how He is working in and through situations like this. In our history we've had several instances where we've gone into a place like this on a humanitarian relief type thing, and then found that God had other things in mind for us. He had maybe an ongoing presence even after the crisis for the most part had passed."
Swanson continues, "And people...who our people are rubbing shoulders with on a daily basis, have an opportunity to see things that maybe they've never seen before and hear things they've never heard before. So, we just continue to pray that God will use our people in the way that He wants to, to bring the transformation to the lives of those that are out there that need it."
The needs are still overwhelming, and prayer is needed. There are already reports that people have lost their lives due to exposure in the winter months. Swanson encourages people to continue praying for those devastated by the earthquake and living in cold winter conditions. Pray also for the aid workers living and ministering in difficult circumstances.