Contact: Taun Cortado, Gospel for Asia, 972-300-3120
YANGON, Myanmar (Burma), June 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- Gospel for Asia/Believers Church relief teams in Myanmar (Burma) ministering among the battered survivors of Cyclone Nargis are reporting an incredible openness to the Gospel among the Buddhist survivors there.
Photo: Gospel for Asia/Believers Church volunteers carry bags of rice destined for cyclone survivors living in relief camps.
But they also report a deteriorating situation with outside aid still not reaching those most in need, and increasing official resistance to those trying to help the suffering and dying people.
A correspondent with one of the GFA Compassion Services teams reports the following reaction among non-Christians to the relief efforts: "Buddha might be sleeping, for he is doing nothing for us, but Christians are everywhere, sharing from whatever they have," he wrote, quoting one of the storm's survivors. The correspondent joyfully reported that GFA's first delivery of medical and other relief supplies has been a great blessing.
"It was also a great recommendation for our church and ministry," he noted. "Our providing food and supplying drinking water to different affected areas was a tremendous testimony among both Christians and unbelievers."
The correspondent added that "people in Myanmar understand that the Christians are the people full of love."
And love, expressed through physical aid, prayer and sharing the hope found in Christ, are desperately needed in Burma today.
"Nowadays there is no peace at all inside the country," the correspondent wrote. "The officials have promised that they would allow relief donations to reach the people, but now they actively prevent it.
"In some areas, we had to stop our distribution of food and water because of the danger, but we will resume it when the time is better."
There have been reports of relief vehicles being commandeered by the military, and of older orphan boys being pressed into the army, even while victims stood by without food.
Recent news video from the Irrawaddy River delta showed human and animal bodies floating in the water, and no structures left standing for miles around.
"I understand that our God knows this entire situation," the GFA correspondent wrote, "and I pray every day for His help for His children who are without help."
News reports also show thousands of people being forced back to devastated villages, trying to stay alive on small portions of rice and rainwater, even as outside aid is being blocked.
But because GFA/Believers Church is an indigenous movement within Myanmar, and because of the high esteem in which Christians are held, the government has continued to allow the Compassion Services teams to bring much-needed aid to the survivors.
"Thank God that we are still allowed to bring aid to people," said GFA President K.P. Yohannan. "While the situation is very difficult, we are still able to minister in the midst of it."
One of the greatest needs in Myanmar is to take care of the thousands of orphans left by the storm. The GFA/Believers Church leader for Myanmar reports that the government has accepted his application to open an orphanage, "The Nargis Children's Home," to permanently provide for the 90 children now under his care. The children—50 boys and 40 girls—are all between the ages of 5 and 10.
"But there are more than 5,000 homeless children in just one small town where our team went with food packages," the leader added. "How many more homeless children will we find in other towns and villages?"
"That is why we will continue to reach out to the people of Myanmar," Yohannan commented. "And that is why I ask that Christians around the world continue to pray for the people of Myanmar and our missionaries who are tirelessly working to help them."
As the correspondent wrote from Burma, "In any way we can, we do as much as possible for the people. And we need your wonderful prayer on us."
"Helping rebuild all the lives damaged by the storm will take months, and probably years," Yohannan admitted, "but our people are committed to the task, no matter the difficulties. They will not abandon their fellow citizens in this time of great need."
Gospel for Asia is an evangelical mission organization based in Carrollton involved in sharing the love of Jesus across South Asia.