Myanmar (MNN) — The first two planes carrying aid into Myanmar finally landed in the country that was devastated by Cyclone Nargis over the weekend. Reports say more than 100,000 people may have died in the cyclone that produced a storm surge that's left more than a million people homeless and displaced.
President of Food for the Hungry Ben Homan says it severely affected their partners in the country. "We've had a long-term relationship with churches and groups in Myanmar. In their immediate area the damage is very significant; the loss of life is very significant, and the potential of this escalating because of the cascading health crisis is absolutely dangerous."
However, the closed junta government has yet to completely open the doors to outside aid agencies. Homan says, "The urgency of getting the appropriate shelter, the food, clean water and health supplies is absolutely imperative because otherwise there will be wave upon wave of loss of life. And that's why we plead with the government of Myanmar to open their doors."
Homan is pleading with Christians to pray for the situation. "What (the Burmese) are experiencing right now is absolutely horrific — the sights, the aromas, the dangers to their health. It's right there, and they can't get away from it."
Food for the Hungry is appealing to Myanmar to allow their Bangladesh cyclone staff to enter the country to provide cyclone relief. Homan says, "These are Food for the Hungry staff who have already responded to cyclones in the past. They know what to do. They're trained, and they can do it in ways that are Christ honoring and Christ Centered."
For FHI, this is more than just another relief effort. "We want to extend God's love and the compassion of Jesus to people who are in their darkest hour. And that motivates us, and that drives us. And the love of Jesus compels us," says Homan.
While physical assistance is the most important need right now, they're also getting requests for Christian resources like Bibles. Homan explains why. "If you can think about a situation where there are very few Bibles and Christian resources, and then a roof top (is) blown off, and printed materials that are so precious to believers [are] completely soaked and destroyed," you can understand their feeling of loss.
In the meantime, Food for the Hungry is asking you to pray and then do something. "I would call upon not only individuals but entire congregations to make a generous offering of financial assistance for Myanmar."