So which is it? Unfortunately, says Greg Kelley of World Mission, their partners are telling them it’s both. “India, like other countries in Southeast Asia, is very prone to disasters. What we were hearing– all kinds of news reports and horrible stories that made all of our hearts turn in May and June–was of the drought.” In a month that should have seen the highest rainfall of the monsoon season, almost half of India felt the sun parch the earth instead.
Kelley says, “All across India, families were being devastated by the drought, they didn’t have access to water. We were trying to get in there and drill some deep water wells to help the people. We were even supplying water tanks, the trucks that would go into remote villages where people were dying of the drought situation; their animals were dying.”
Disaster upon disaster
With the earth baked dry, there was nothing to absorb the rains when they DID fall. Things were bad enough before unusually heavy rain in Nepal and the rivers flowing south into Bihar state breached their banks, destroyed roads and bridges, and flooded acres of farmland. In Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat states, over a million people evacuated their homes due to the monsoon flooding.
The government noted that whatever headway they’d made in recovery from LAST year’s century floods, for Gujarat, it was starting all over again. Death tolls climbed in the aftermath.
Kelley explains, “These disasters in a place like India create an opportunity for the body of Christ to respond in love. Whether it’s drilling the wells, or providing the water, or in the case of the monsoon and the flooding, it’s now all of a sudden, all the water is dirty and they’ve lost everything. We really need to be creative when we think about engaging places like India, and the opportunities are right in front of us.”
Being part of the solution
World Mission’s effectiveness in disaster response proves that despite increasing difficulties for Christian non-profit groups, there is still time and place for Christians. Plus, “Most people wouldn’t believe that not only is India the most populated Hindu country in the world, but (also that) within the next 25 years, it will simultaneously be the most populated Muslim country in the world.”
Hope shines in crisis
Sometimes, people wonder about using a natural disaster as a way to introduce the Gospel. Kelley says it’s about preaching the Gospel at all times, and sometimes using words – but not in the way that you might think. “The same village that may have been very resistant to the Gospel, after they’ve endured a drought, or they’ve endured a flood where they’ve lost literally everything, animals have been wiped out, and the most vulnerable, the weak, the old are dying, all of a sudden that Gospel presentation becomes very interesting, because the person who’s bringing the Gospel is also showcasing a tangible form of love in Jesus’ name.”
That’s what bringing in water trucks or drilling for water does. Meeting physical need earns ears for something more, which is where their partners come into play. “We’ll equip them with the resources to provide that tangible expression of love. And always, that’s connected to a Treasure distribution, which is our solar-powered audio Bible. And now, we have a heart that’s receptive to the Gospel that previously was not.”
Take the story and run
As far as this story goes, Kelley urges folks to respond to the information you’ve read here. “I believe that every follower of Jesus should have some expression–whether it’s praying for one of the unreached peoples of India or helping a Bible translator or helping distribute Bibles or our solar-powered audio Bible s or part of disaster relief.” Click here for more ways you can come alongside World Mission and its partners.
Header photo courtesy of Siddarth Machado/Flickr/CC