Turning disaster into opportunity in South Asia

Natural disasters occur frequently throughout the world today. Indigenous ministries supported through Christian Aid are often the first to respond. Emergency funds received are sent out immediately and placed in the hands of capable ministry leaders who distribute it where most needed during initial stages of a crisis.

But this assistance does not end in a few weeks, months, or even years after the crisis is over. Lives, livelihoods, homes, and churches must be rebuilt. Indigenous ministries are working to re-establish the physical and spiritual works affected. This takes time. Because these ministries are already in place, Christian Aid continues to send regular support, as well as extra funds for special projects they encounter.

On December 26, 2004, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake triggered one of the deadliest tsunamis in recorded history. A large number of donors called Christian Aid asking how they could help. As gifts poured in, Christian Aid was able to send help immediately to indigenous ministries located in or near the stricken areas. Funds were then handled by ministry leaders who were able to discern how best to effectively help those in need.

One such ministry was Lama Sevana, literally translated as Haven for Children, located in Sri Lanka. Its vision is to protect and care for boys and girls who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The tsunami opened the doors to expand the work, and today it is successfully helping many more needy children and young women in the name of Christ.

Young girls learn to sew.
Young girls learn to sew.

Christian Aid first sent funds for food, medicine, tents, clothing and other necessities. Then, as a follow up, more funds were sent toward the emergency shelter for needy children. Christian Aid was able to provide an opportunity for donors to sponsor most of these children.

A much-needed outreach to rescue children from prostitution was also realized and many women who were left destitute after the disaster have been helped by the ministry. They have received occupational training in tailoring. To that end, several sewing machines were purchased for teaching, and then given to the women to earn a living on their own.

All of these women and children were given an opportunity to experience the love of Christ through Christian workers at Lama Sevana. Today many of the original group of kids are now grown and most have accepted the Lord. They have all been equipped to lead productive lives.