Myanmar (MNN) — The death toll could rise to over tens of thousands in Myanmar after a cyclone struck early Saturday, according to government sources. State radio says 22-thousand have died and thousands more are missing.
Some news sources report that the government's response thus far has
been slow or lacking. The road systems are not in good shape and
communications are essentially down.
It is predicted that the cyclone may have the largest death toll since the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia which killed 181,000 people in its path. "Obviously hundreds of thousands
of lives are being terribly impacted, having lost their bamboo homes and watching their family members die. It's been horribly devastating," said Gospel for Asia's K.P. Yohannan.
Gospel for Asia has more than 400 churches in Myanmar, a country also known as Burma. They also have more than 275 mission stations throughout the country. So far, they have only received news of the impact of the cyclone on their major Bible college in Rangoon. "News came this afternoon that our major Bible college in Rangoon was destroyed in the sense that the upper portion of the building roof and the upper floor were completely ruined," said Yohannan.
Thankfully, no one was killed as everyone rushed to the ground level. GFA is awaiting news from the mission field. "They suspect that hundreds and hundreds of believers' homes were destroyed, and churches were destroyed," said Yohannan.
However, there is good news. Because other facilities in Rangoon were destroyed, Yohannan reports that about 80 local people have crowded into what's left of the Bible college–even hard-line Buddhists. The Christians there are offering what food and shelter is available as they represent the hands and feet of Christ.
Yohannan says that this outreach will have a huge impact for the Gospel. "I am certain throughout Burma, as our believers and missionaries go about helping the people and praying for them, this is definitely going to open the door for people to understand the love of
With the food crisis already stretching resources thin, there is a need for funding to help
the Bible college and others get aid to cyclone survivors. "Right now is the time for us to do everything we can to help them… We're praying that God will give us
strength and wisdom to reach out to these people, It is very, very important at this time," said Yohannan.