CARROLLTON, Texas, Dec. 27, 2004 (Gospel for Asia) -- Gospel for Asia workers are rushing food, clothing, medical supplies-and the love of God-to millions of Asians still in deep shock from a disaster spawned by the most powerful earthquake in 40 years.
GFA President K.P. Yohannan, who returned from India the day after the powerful tsunami hurled devastating walls of water from Thailand to Africa, said GFA workers are already ministering among the estimated three million survivors huddled in massive refugee camps in India. Others are serving in Sri Lanka and other hard-hit countries.
In Sri Lanka, where 12,000 deaths have been reported, 17 villages in the rebel-controlled north of the island have been especially hard hit, and an entire train with 1,000 people on board was washed away along a coastal rail line.
Amid the death and destruction, however, Brother K.P. reported this morning on how God's hand protected one Believer's Church congregation.
"In one of our churches in Sri Lanka, our believers were spared even though their entire village was washed away," Brother K.P. explained. "At the time the wave hit, they were all in church, and their church building is located up in the mountains."
But Christians have suffered alongside their countrymen throughout South Asia's devastated coastal regions. One pastor in Sri Lanka, Brother Logidasan, lost his wife, son, and mother when the waves crashed in on them. The leader of GFA work in Sri Lanka, Lal Vanderwall, has called for prayer for the pastor and his coworkers as they try to minister to others in the midst of their own grief.
In India, the confirmed death toll has hit 11,000, but thousands more are still listed as missing. It may be weeks before a final number is known, as thousands of men, women, and children were swept out to sea as the killer waves retreated. Some were out for a Sunday morning stroll on the beach when the tsunami hit. More than 5,000 fishermen are missing, their small boats swamped and crushed by the awesome power of the rushing water.
Hundreds and perhaps thousands lost their lives in the Indian coastal states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala, where GFA has its Asian headquarters. Most of the victims knew nothing of the earthquake or the tsunami until the huge waves began rising up from the ocean in front of them. Most South Asian countries lack warning systems to alert the people to such imminent dangers.
As of this morning, reports were still coming in from GFA offices across Asia.
In the Andaman Islands a reported 6,000 people have been killed. In another miracle, however, all 26 GFA missionaries serving on the low-lying island chain are reported safe.
"We thank God for these miracles," Brother K.P. said, "and pray that He will use these believers to share His love and compassion with the millions who are suffering so terribly."
In the wake of this disaster, GFA's 1.5 million-member Believers Church in India is rallying support and deploying its leadership and members to minister to those suffering so horribly-both physically and spiritually.
"In times like these, we know that God opens the hearts of those who suffer, and we pray that as our workers demonstrate God's love to them, many of them will come to know for the first time that real security comes only through Him," Brother K.P. said. "We ask that our brothers and sisters in the West take the time today to pray for these millions of victims, that they will feel God's presence and grace in a special way. And please pray for our workers, that they will be given strength to serve in these horribly difficult circumstances."
"This is the most widespread disaster to hit Asia in decades," added Brother K.P., "and it is our prayer that in the face of such massive suffering, with your help we can become a shining beacon of God's love and compassion."