Sri Lanka (MNN) — Sri Lanka is facing its worst flooding in over a decade. Torrential rains in the southwestern part of the country have left about 180 dead and over half a million displaced.
“You can’t even reach some of the places down south and in the center,” says Adrian De Visser, a partner of Asian Access, which provides training for Christian leaders across Asia. “And so it is the government with the use of the helicopters and the naval vessels that they are reaching all the people who are out of reach.”
While neighboring countries have responded by providing immediate humanitarian assistance, Asian Access is taking a more long-term approach. They want to make sure that once the floodwaters have cleared, the vulnerable aren’t forgotten.
“Our strategy has not been always to rush when a disaster takes place, because there are lots of people who will rush in immediately, and then they are forgotten,” De Visser says. “Asian Access and our church always picks up at that point. When people really need to settle down, that is the time we respond to these crises.
“The immediate survival mode, everybody wants to respond and the government is trying to respond. But give it a week or two, they will completely forget about these people. Even after the tsunami, that’s how we responded. And because of it, we have a better plan, we have a better way of responding to the needs of the people. We help them to settle down, and we connect with them as individuals, not just a person who is waiting in line to get a handout from us.”
De Visser and Asian Access are planning to respond by rebuilding homes and providing humanitarian aid. He asks that you pray for those who are suffering, and that God would bless their work.
“Obviously, right now I would ask you to pray, because things are in a very, very bad shape,” De Visser says. “People are living in refugee camps, and our fear is that there can be sicknesses soon after the floods recede. But also, you can be praying, because our church will definitely be responding to the needs of the people in building their homes, repairing their homes, [and] coming alongside [them]. We would love to see churches come alongside who can help us to do it better.
“Just pray for us, because at a time of disaster, people are so desperate, and as a church, we don’t want to take advantage of that by presenting the Gospel. But what we want to do in a moment like this is to show that we really love and care.”
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