As humanitarian agencies continue to help victims of what has been labeled as one of the deadliest quakes in modern times, Christian relief groups are offering survivors spiritual guidance, hope, and comfort as well.
With the death toll at more than 80,000 after last months Pakistan quake, humanitarian agencies are rushing to beat the winter snow that would leave many parts of Pakistan inaccessible and result in the deaths of thousands more. Paralleling efforts to meet the urgent physical needs of survivors are efforts to provide hope and comfort through the Gospel.
Gospel for Asia (GFA), a Southeast Asia-focused mission group, is working in a village in the Himalayan ranges of Kashmir where all 400 homes were destroyed during the quake. The group received permission from the government last month to work with survivors and a team of 15 GFA native missionaries spent a week ministering to the people of the village. GFA this past Tuesday reported that the villagers for the first time experienced the love of Christ and four families gladly accepted Urdu New Testaments.
"The army dropped off emergency supplies and drove on," one of the villagers said to GFA, "but you are the only ones who have stopped and showed us you care about us."
Kevin Swanson, president of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), also noted that Christian aid agencies have a precious opportunity to share the Gospel to people they are caring for physically.
"As we have the opportunity to stay medium to long term in an area, people notice that we are different, that we have something to offer. And, God has opened many, many doors for our people, even in places that are really closed to the Gospel," said Swanson to Mission Network News (MNN).
"As people partner together with us, it's not just to bring immediate relief from the suffering that these people are facing, but it is also hopefully to show them an alternative for eternal relief," Swanson continued.
The 7.6 magnitude South Asia quake hit Pakistan and neighboring counties on Oct. 8 devastating homes, buildings, and lives in the affected countries. Christian agencies were some of the first to arrive on-site to offer assistance, with Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan beginning distribution of relief assistance the same day the quake hit.