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Indigenous ministries help cyclone victims in Burma

May 06, 2008

In the midst of the chaos wrought by Cyclone Nargis this weekend, it is estimated that the death toll has doubled since yesterday. Rangoon, the commercial capital of the country, was devastated by the storm. Hundreds of thousands of people in Burma are now without shelter or clean water to drink.

Flooded Burmese house

Thousands of people have been killed due to the cyclone that ripped through Burma at 120 mph early Saturday morning. The death toll keeps rising. On May 6 the government radio station reported that 22,000 deaths are confirmed and 41,000 people are still missing.

There are three major ministries supported by Christian Aid that are keeping us informed on the situation and how it affects their ministry. One of these ministries is actually located in Thailand. It is an outreach to the Burmese living in Bangkok. A ministry located inside Burma, Witnessing for Christ, has its office headquarters located in Rangoon. The two ministries inside Burma have always been closely related to one another over the years and are in frequent contact with each other.

Map highlighting Burma

Even though phones and emails were unavailable, the Thailand ministry received information firsthand from one of their church members who had just returned from Burma. Yesterday, he gave the following report:

The area southwest of Rangoon was hardest hit and may have sustained the worst damage. Houses in rural areas are often built with bamboo or wood, therefore more vulnerable.

"In Rangoon, all of the large trees surrounding our area were totally destroyed and no power poles are left on the street. However, there was relatively minor damage to our church building and the office headquarters. Sadly, no one has heard anything about the ministry’s children or disabled centers in the outlying areas. We are asking for your prayers that these children and the infirmed will be safe."

Felled trees piled in front of bank

He said that WFC has already opened the doors of the church for emergency relief help for the people of Rangoon. With a population of 6 million and so many affected, the task will be monumental. The Thailand contact will be leaving for Rangoon on May 8 and will be allowed to take money and supplies with him. (Christian Aid has already wired funds to help, and can wire funds immediately as they are received by us.) In addition to delivering emergency relief goods, they plan to travel to as many places as they can and help repair or build houses (approximately $100 per household) and to supply generators in key locations. He asks us to pray for a quick clean-up, an adequate supply of clean drinking water, food, medical care, and safety.

Please pray for the courage of all those who are helping and hope to those who are suffering. May the name of our Lord be heard, redeeming souls in the midst of this reparation.

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