Andaman Islands (MNN) — When the tsunami hit Thailand, it also devastated the Andaman Islands. Pastor Varughese Mathew, with the help of The Bridge International, is
still aiding the refugees from the islands.
"Most of these islands are totally unreached. And there are not many people who know about God, and there are no such missionaries that are going there," said Mathew. Most people do not even visit the islands because of the threat of malaria and the four day boat trip from the mainland. Many who live there are Hindu.
There are also six native tribes on the islands who are protected by law from outside contact. The Regulation for the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes was made in 1956.
However, the devastation of the tsunami opened doors for relief workers to contact these people.
Mathew who has been working there since 1988 knew that he, too, had to help the refugees through his ministry Indian Christian Fellowship. "We never wanted to make the situation just to propagate Christianity. But after we provided the food and other materials needed, I said to them, 'Because God loved us and we experience divine protection and providence in our life, and as an expression of God's love, we are helping and we are loving these people,'" said Mathew.
This method caused many people to be led to Christ. "We had a good number who received the Lord after the tsunami as a part of our mission work."
On the other side of the world, financial aid was flooding into The Bridge International to help the tsunami victims. With no work in the area, RK Ulrich began searching for a place to send the resources. A contact told her he knew a man she could help "'I trust this man unequivocally with my life,'" the contact told her. "Well, I
knew that that was exactly the opening door for us to pursue this," said Ulrich.
This income from The Bridge has helped the pastors Mathew works with at ICF increase their work.
They are now helping 130 children and 30 families since the government is not helping everyone. The children are provided with meals and schooling. They are not sure how long they will be able to do this. "If we don't make the best use of this
opportunity, we don't know how long this will exist or whether the doors may be closed so soon or not," said Mathew.
So far the door has stayed open though, and word is spreading about ICF's work. "Time to time the government agencies come and check us, what we are doing, and we are
very much getting the report from them that we are playing a vital part in building up the Andaman community," said Mathew.