Flooding, outreach far from over in Thailand

By November 24, 2011

Thailand (MNN) — "The flooding for many Thai people is far from over."

News of the flooding in Thailand may have been absent from international news in recent days, but the International Mission Board's Caroline Anderson, who lives in Thailand, says flood waters are still high.

"As far as when this might end, I haven't heard any definitive figures," says Anderson. "I've heard by the start of the New Year; I've heard later."

Whatever the time frame for the waters to recede, one thing is clear: it will be years before full recovery is completed.

Anderson says although central Bangkok has managed to stay dry–thanks to tireless government efforts to keep it so, the west and north of the country are still soaked through. Homes are still filled with water as residents await government compensation. People are relocating to any place that's dry.

"I talked with an IMB missionary who said that two lanes of a four-lane highway are taken up with temporary shelters where people whose homes have been flooded are sleeping," adds Anderson.

A number of IMB missionaries have been able to jump into relief efforts, and churches continue to respond with food, water, shelter, sandbags and appliance repair.

A member of a new church in Bangkok is a factory owner. He has opened up part of his factory for church members and other flood victims to use as shelter. The factory is now a temporary home for about 150 people, many of whom are not believers. Physical needs are being met, and spiritual questions are also being answered.

If any good has come from the flooding, it's that doors that have been opened to bring Christ's hope to Thailand.

Anderson says, "There's one Thai pastor in Ayutthaya that said this disaster has opened doors of people in that area and allowed them to enter into fellowship. It's allowed an avenue for conversation because in the past, it's been difficult to share the Gospel."

While distributing flood relief, believers have been able to enter areas that were previously closed to them. Although the nation is mostly Buddhist, there are some Muslim communities as well. One Muslim community that has traditionally been very closed to Christian allowed believers to step in yesterday to distribute food and water.

Opportunities are being created. Anderson says, in general, Thais are willing to listen to what Christians have to say, but they are seldom willing to budge on the teachings to which they hold. In the wake of disaster, that's changing. People are beginning to ask questions about the Gospel and are, in some cases, even willing to change their way of thinking.

Pray for wisdom and safety as churches and missionaries continue to respond.

In the United States, today represents a day of thankful hearts and grateful spirits. If in reading about Thailand you feel grateful for what you have and would like to respond to the needs of flood victims, you can help with relief efforts through Baptist Global Response. Click here to help.

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