Myanmar (MNN) – Gospel for Asia missionaries are doing everything they can to reach out and care for victims of the cyclone that recently struck Myanmar. The death toll is reaching 50,000 with thousands of people still missing.
The GFA Bible college in Rangoon was transformed into a shelter for victims of the cyclone. Approximately 80 people and 70 orphans made their way to the school as soon as the storm subsided. Missionaries and staff at the Bible college are providing basic needs such as shelter, food, and water, as well as prayer and the hope and love of Christ.
“The people in Burma live in clusters of small communities in simple bamboo structures,” explained GFA President K.P. Yohannan. “These villages are not made of concrete. I imagine that literally hundreds of these simple structures were just blown away. We are praying here in India and are asking Christians around the world to join us.”
In 2006, the government of Myanmar passed a regulation forbidding non-governmental organizations from providing aid to the country. In light of the recent disaster, the government is now allowing outside aid. GFA is one of the only organizations allowed to offer immediate help to the people, as they already had missionaries in the country and found favor with the government.
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is surrounded by countries such as Bangladesh, India, China, and Thailand. Buddhism is the country’s main religion, with over a million Buddhist temples and 90% of the population practicing this religion. Some of the monks even came to the GFA college asking for assistance.
“In the past, whenever there was a problem of any kind, our people got involved in helping,” Yohannan said. “That is why the government and the people there look at us with good favor,”
One of the immediate challenges facing missionary workers is the short supply of fresh food and water.
“Rangoon is in total darkness, and officials are estimating that there will not be electricity for at least three months,” Yohannan said.
Other long-term needs include rebuilding parts of the campus, staff quarters, and homes for church members. There are approximately 400 churches and 250 mission stations that GFA missionaries serve at that are estimated to have some damages.
“We are facing at least six months of continuous work ministering to the people,” Yohannan explained. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to reach out in love to them, just like we did after the tsunami in 2004.”