Emotional damage to flood survivors could be severe

By January 21, 2011

Sri Lanka (MNN) — Over 40 people have died from flooding in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of thousands of people have been at least temporarily displaced.

With the floods have come some of the coldest temperatures the area has ever experienced. Victims of the floods and landslides are ill-equipped for the weather, especially without adequate shelter. As in many natural disasters, clothing, food, water, milk and other necessities have been highlighted as major needs.

It's one thing after another for Sri Lankans, all of whom have suffered much national turmoil in recent history. "They've had really now the big three," explains Rody Rodeheaver with I.N. Network. "The war, which just ended in the area where the flooding is most predominant; then the tsunami was a major factor here; and now the floods."

After so much turmoil, there are physical needs to be met. At least as important, if not more, though, is attention to emotional and spiritual needs. A freshly ended, years-long civil war, and still vibrant memories of a deathly tsunami were actually handled quite impressively by the country. Rodeheaver says people were resilient, and, even just a few months ago, were beginning to cautiously hope things would get better. This most recent disaster could squash that hope beneath its tides.

"There is a big concern on the part of our people and our leadership that this will be the kind of thing that creates an emotional tailspin — the kind of thing that creates a group of people who just give up," says Rodeheaver. He fears seeing Sri Lankans on the side of the road in the not-too-distant future, doing nothing more than surviving.

In what could potentially be such a dark time for many, the work of God's people is especially imperative. I.N. Network has partnered with local churches to give aid and the deep love of Jesus Christ.

"These folks need a cup of cold water, they need a blanket, they need a place where their children are safe. But as we're doing that and providing that, there comes a point where, because we have an opportunity to build that relationship, we have the opportunity to share the Gospel," explains Rodeheaver. "I think what we're talking about is a holistic approach. You cannot do one without the other."

Because I.N. Network is working with the local church, follow up and continued assistance to the people they help will be much simpler. Continued efforts beyond immediate aid are important. "It is not just the initial effort here," says Rodeheaver. "It is the fact that homes were destroyed, and you're going to have people who are displaced–who are refugees now for quite a while until they can rebuild their lives. So our goal is to try to help our people on the ground by getting people to pray for their efforts, as well as sending funds."

Pray that the Sri Lankans affected will maintain their resilience. Pray that the Lord would use this time to build His church, and pray for the church to be godly witnesses of the Gospel as they reach out in Christ's perfect love.

Funds are especially needed to supply local churches with enough aid to dole out to those in need. To make a donation, click here and indicate "flood" with your gift.


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