Pakistan (MNN) — As floodwaters have ravaged Pakistan, many ministries have rushed to bring aid to the estimated 17 to 20 million victims. Unfortunately, many ministries seem to be coming up against a mammoth problem: no funding.
"The giving is really lagging behind right now," explains Jeff Palmer, executive director for Baptist Global Response, a close partner of International Mission Board. Although many have given generously–for which BGR is grateful, much more is needed to properly respond to the dire need in Pakistan.
The numbers can be put in perspective when measuring them against the funds given after the Haiti earthquake. It's about a month into the severe Pakistan flooding at this point, and BGR has received somewhere between $50,000 to $60,000. A month after the Haiti quake, at least $2 million had been donated to the ministry for relief work. To further highlight the need, BGR has already poured about $600,000 into Pakistan relief–a number not remotely covered by donor response to the crisis. Within the next month, the ministry estimates a need for another $1 million.
So why the contrast in response to the needs in Pakistan vs. Haiti? Palmer says it could be a number of things. He confirmed that people may be skeptical of the Middle East, but also that they may simply be burnt out from giving. In general, many may not see it as such a big issue as the Haiti catastrophe because less lives have been lost, even if more have been affected. For Americans in particular, Pakistan is just too far removed for many to get emotionally involved.
"Not many Americans travel to Pakistan," notes Palmer. "A lot of Americans travel to Haiti, and a lot of mission organizations have work going on in Haiti. Pakistan…is not as near and dear to the hearts."
Ironically, rather than safe and dry Christians in other countries, Pakistani believers are the ones helping the most. These brave believers have been affected by the floodwaters themselves, undoubtedly lost possessions and perhaps even loved ones. Yet, they are on the frontlines of flood relief, despite the fact that they are coming up against many who are angry to see aid doled out in the name of Christ in a predominantly-Muslim nation.
"The first responders in Pakistan are the Christians that are there–the believers, the local Pakistani. Many of them are putting themselves in harm's way. Because of the predominant culture in the country, they're not looked on very favorably. The first number of projects we've been able to do actually are supporting local believers who are able to go out and minister to their neighbors with food and with water and with blankets."
The lack of emotional attachment from believers elsewhere around the world, however, is an unfortunate blow for Pakistani in need and could hinder the work of believers in the country. Believers there are not only providing necessities for the survival of their fellow countrymen, they're also providing the hope of the Gospel as traumatized Pakistani seek answers.
"An event like this does a couple of things," explains Palmer. "It displaces people, and it makes them ask questions. It also opens up cultural questions as to why these things happen."
Victims need spiritual questions answered, but they will listen only if they have their immediate needs of shelter, food and medicine met. Believers cannot continue to hand relief items out in the name of Christ if there is no funding to provide those things.
If you can help by giving even a small amount to help the tens of millions of people who have lost so much and are looking for hope, please prayerfully consider giving money to BGR or another ministry helping in Pakistan. To give with BGR, visit their Web site at gobgr.org. This may be an opportunity to trust in the Lord as you support the work of our faithful brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
Please continue to pray for the people of Pakistan as well. Pray for the floods to recede and for people to find their ways safely back to their homes. Pray that in the midst of turmoil, many Pakistani who may never have considered Jesus Christ in the past would now turn to Him wholeheartedly and put their trust in Him.
Pray for strength and boldness for believers who are spreading relief and the Good News. Pray for their safety from the Pakistani who oppose their lifesaving work.