India (MNN) — As if record levels of annual monsoon flooding weren't enough, India has fallen prey to another natural disaster. This time, it's the heat.
"It's often very hot in India, but this is an unusual heat wave," says Pat Ragan of AMG International.
Andhra Pradesh, the state where AMG India is headquartered, has been most affected by the extreme heat.
"It was reported that 127 persons had died on one day, which was May 24," says Ragan.
Today, the death toll has climbed to 1 157. And that's just in Andhra Pradesh! Extreme heat has killed over 400 people throughout India's other states.
Last year, 447 people lost their lives in Andhra Pradesh as a result of extreme heat.
"Many weak persons are dying, due to the excess heat wave," AMG India's director told Ragan and his team in May.
"He said, 'The temperature in our area is ranging between 44 and 47 degrees Celsius,'" recalls Ragan. "That's between 111 and 116 degrees Fahrenheit."
When the director asked for help installing bore wells, Ragan says it was a no-brainer.
"For us, it became a priority," he says. "Water is a basic need. And so when the heat wave hit, it piqued our attention."
By spreading the word among their church communities, AMG International was able to raise funds for the wells quickly. Now, 10 bore wells are being installed in Dalit villages.
"Bringing water–physical water–to them is just obviously a way to introduce them to the true source of water. As Jesus says in John chapter 7, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.'" says Ragan.
"We just seek to be ready and have the networks and funding in place to help meet these needs when the situations arise."
You can pray, give, or go to help. Get connected with AMG India here.
"Get on the Web site and learn more, and then get involved," Ragan encourages. "[There are] always opportunities to teach and train and come alongside our ministries there."
"Pray for our leadership there; that's the biggest thing," Ragan requests. "They have an incredible burden."
If going is your preference, Ragan says AMG is sending pastors in October 2014 to help train local pastors in India. Or, there's a construction project that might need willing hearts sooner rather than later.
"The culture [in India] is changing, as you may know, and many young people are moving," says Ragan. "As often happens [with] Westernization, parents are left behind, and that's what they're finding in India."
AMG India is finding many elderly in villages that are left completely alone. Ragan says AMG has a heart to reach out to them, so plans are underway for an Old Age Home.
"We're praying for team members to go and help build this home, to help fund it and resource it," Ragan says.
"I always come away from being in India feeling like I've walked where Jesus has walked, because the need is so great; there's so much poverty and so much suffering," says Ragan.
"Jesus admonishes us in His Word, as believers, to respond to those needs."