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Pakistan Floods: Indigenous Missions Reaching Victims One Family at a Time

September 13, 2010

Native missionaries drying out home
DRYING OUT THEIR HOMES - Local missionary volunteers help a family dig out silt and set up fans to dry out their house. The Indus River has swollen to 22 times its normal size. (Christian Aidphoto)

Although the secular news media have nearly forgotten the flood disaster in Pakistan, local Christian mission teams still carry on the grueling relief efforts every day. Delivering aid to one family at a time, they are often forced to use public transportation and walk to remote villages. Native missionary volunteers are finding that a family can survive and start to rebuild with about $100 in emergency supplies.

For security reasons, one of the missionary leaders of the effort refers to himself only as a "brother in Christ." With emergency relief supplied by Christian Aid Mission based in Charlottesville, Virginia he and his local team are able to reach stranded families with incredible efficiency. His story is typical of how Christian Aidhelps delivers compassion to over 750 native mission agencies working among the poor in 3000 people groups around the world. Contributions continue to be accepted by Christian Aidfor Pakistan at www.ChristianAid.org.

"The local pastors and leaders already know the situation and which families are in most need – 30 in one village, 150 in another, one here or another there. With the help of Christian Aidfunds, we are able to demonstrate the love and mercy of God as soon as it is possible to get to the survivors."

Christian Aidsends help to local missions groups in almost every underdeveloped country of the world, and the assistance varies according to local needs. In Pakistan, for example, they are helping to supply flood survivors with the immediate items needed to start recovery – food packages, bed frames with nylon netting, blankets, canteens and water bottles, metal trunks, mess kits, pedestal fans, and changes of clothing. These kinds of goods are produced and purchased within the local economy – and rarely provided by the government or foreign aid agencies.

"It is very hard to cater to all the needs of the survivors," says the Pakistani head of the mission. "However we immediately started by supplying canteens for clean drinking water and blankets costing about $10,000.

Native missionaries loading bed frames onto a motorized rickshaw
MOTORIZED TRI-SHAWS TO THE RESCUE - Christian volunteers load bed frames onto a motorized rickshaw to help deliver emergency aid to Pakistan flood victims. To survive the floods and set up camp on higher ground, a small family needs about $100 in relief goods. (Christian Aidphoto)

"The people have nothing so we can make a big difference spending about $100 per family. The local wage is about $4 a day for a laborer. The farmers have nothing left, so $100 given in essential relief goods is the same as an average month’s wage. Bed frames are essential and cost about $20 each with nylon netting and a blanket. Canteens and water bottles cost only about $6 per family or $1 a person. Metal trunks are used to hold everything people own and cost $60 each with a padlock. Military style mess kits made of stainless steal cost $7 each and are critical. Finally, many of the survivors are wearing the same rags they fled in and at least two changes of clothing are needed: $10 each for adults and $4-5 each for children."

His mission board has joined other evangelical groups to extend help to internally displaced persons (IDPs) that still can’t get back to their farms and villages. About 500,000 people are affected by the floods in Charsada with an additional 700,000 in Nowshera. The staff of his mission lives among the people they are helping. For some, their own homes were destroyed in the flooding which swept away everything. They know what it is like to live under the open skies in the hot sun and monsoon rains.

Native Christian leaders along the hard-hit Indus River basin are saying that the damage is much worse than first thought and they believe that recovery will take years.

So far only about half the affected population has been reached with any emergency aid. The situation continues to deteriorate, say authorities, especially for children most affected by contaminated water. According to the government, about 20 million are involved in the flooding. Many parts of the country are still impassible lakes. "No one was prepared for a disaster of this magnitude," says one local mission leader, "every hour of the day brings more news of devastation and the monsoon season continues."

Native missionary rescuing baby
RESCUED FROM FLOOD WATERS - Christian Aid Mission aid is sent to local mission teams in Pakistan to help flood victims like these in the terrible floods that have displaced 20 million people along the Indus River basin.

Christian Aid was founded by the American evangelist Bob Finley in 1953 when he returned to the USA from preaching his way around the world after World War II. In China, Korea, India and other Asian countries he discovered that a new generation of indigenous leadership was ready and willing to take over the gospel task from foreign missionaries.

"From the start, a part of our mission has been to help local leaders help the poorest of the poor in some of the poorest places on earth," says a Christian Aidspokesperson Bill Bray. "We seek to help local church mission committees focus on needy neighbors as Jesus Christ taught – on the widows, prisoners, the sick and especially orphaned or fatherless children.

"Rather than give money to local governments like many international development agencies do, we believe in distributing funds to trustworthy local mission committees so that every dollar we send has maximum impact. We have been doing this for many decades now, and those who donate to Christian Aidexpect us to help Christian ministries which are helping people at the grassroots level."

The work of responding to Pakistan’s flood tragedy will go on for years. Long term help from individuals and churches will continue to be needed. For more information, contact the Donor Relations Department at Christian Aid Mission, 1-800-977-5650.

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