Sri Lanka (MNN/GFA) — A week of
powerful storms brought heavy rain across Sri Lanka and massive flooding. Over
a half million people are homeless as a result.
Torrential rains inundated the island for more than a week. Meteorologists
say Cyclone Laila, which recently blasted the Bay of Bengal, intensified these
pre-monsoon rainstorms. While Cyclone
Laila spared Sri Lanka, it
is blamed for 16 deaths in India.
Gospel For Asia President Dr. K.P.
Yohannan says it brings images of the 2004 tsunami to
mind. "There was no warning at all.
The situation is described as the tsunami situation. There's no end to the
Yohannan got that report on the situation from Lal Vanderwal, GFA's country leader in Sri
Lanka, who reports that entire villages are
Sri Lanka's Disaster
reports that more than 600,000 people were displaced by the flooding. Many of
those affected are the poorest of the poor who live in low-lying areas and
shanty-type structures, which have no chance against the brutal force of the
driving rain or the fast-moving floodwater.
GFA Compassion Services teams are
already providing for emergency needs. Yohanan says, "The government official
came to our people and said, 'Please do what you can at this time. The need is
The teams mobilized out of the more than 100 Sri Lankan churches led by
Gospel for Asia-supported missionaries. The first wave of response includes taking care of immediate food,
shelter and clothing needs. They are already distributing food packets
containing rice, lentil beans, sugar, milk, potatoes, dried fish, crackers,
salt and soap.
The second wave will be recovery.
The storms undid all the progress
made since the tsunami destroyed the nation. "We worked with the Texas
Baptists cleaning the wells for water after the tsunami," says Yohannan. "Now, almost every well that was cleaned [is] now again flooded, completely gone. So we have to start all over again."
Later, they will rebuild homes and restore items needed for the people
to maintain their livelihood. GFA-supported
missionaries also need to assess the damages to their own churches and to the
dozens of Bridge of Hope Centers on the island.
Despite the destruction, there's still
so much hope. Yohannan explains, "For
us, it is a huge opportunity to express Christ's love and tell them that we
care, that Jesus cares about them, and share the Gospel with those who are in
There's a lot to do. Just as it took years to recover from the
Asian tsunami of 2004, it will take time to heal the scars with this disaster. GFA needs help both financially and in prayer.