South Asia (MNN) — Rescue efforts continue this week as monsoon season kicks off in South Asia. The death toll stands at 670 so far across Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, but many remain missing. Flooding affected more than 25 million people, the UN reports.
Floodwaters are receding now, but they covered entire villages several days ago. Landslides triggered by monsoon rains carried away people, homes, and livestock. World Mission’s Greg Kelley says national partners in Nepal send grim reports.
“They’re telling us about villages that they’re working in being wiped off the map; bodies are being washed away. [In] places where we planted churches, people are disappearing,” he recounts.
“[Monsoons are] just devastating in a place like Nepal because when it goes into a higher elevation in the mountains, it all just congregates. Then, it (water) comes just rushing down those rivers and anything in its path is destroyed.”
Even so, a silver lining remains. “When you combine India, Nepal, Bangladesh, we’re talking about some of the highest concentrated areas in the world where people have never heard about Jesus,” Kelley observes.
“These monsoons – as devastating as they are – it creates an unprecedented opportunity for the Church to do evangelism and share Jesus. We need to step into this moment and take advantage of that.”
Why is “spiritual” aid important?
Physical aid is an obvious need during times of disaster. Clean water filters and rice become critical needs when floodwaters contaminate wells and wash away food stores. World Mission makes funds available to help purchase basic necessities and medical supplies for people who have been severely affected. Learn more here.
To some nonbelievers, the timing of this response may seem like manipulation – believers deliver audio Bibles along with water filters to flood survivors. However, national partners never force audio Bibles – called Treasures by World Mission – upon people; they simply offer the resource during natural conversation.
Sometimes, people ask specifically for the Treasure because they’ve lost everything else.
“People are looking for answers. In many cases, they’ve lost everything, and it’s in those moments of desperation where the Treasure becomes effective because their hearts are open to the Gospel,” Kelley explains.
“We’re seeing God do amazing things even in the midst of the flooding.”
Now that you know, what will you do? Connect with World Mission here if you want to help send physical aid or Treasures to survivors. Most importantly, pray.
Be “praying for the safety of our national partners as they’re trying to go in” to affected areas, Kelley asks.
Pray also for people who hear about Christ through solar-powered Treasures. Nepali people often hear the Gospel for the first time through these Treasures, Kelley explains, because most of Nepal is unreached – less than two-percent of the population is Christian.
“People in their point of desperation are uniquely receptive to the Gospel. So, we need to pray that the Gospel finds fertile soil in the hearts of the people there.”
Header image is a representative photo credit Amio James Ascension via Flickr. The photo depicts 2009 monsoon flooding in Bangladesh.