Mission Groups Help India’s Flooded Slums

While many missionaries in the affected areas suffered loss, mission agencies report that they are turning their attention to helping those worst affected.

Relief workers began a massive cleanup and rescuers searched for survivors under mountains of debris in India’s Maharashtra state after record monsoon rains claimed more than 850 lives and destroyed at least a dozen churches.

While many missionaries in the affected areas suffered loss, mission agencies report that they are turning their attention to helping those worst affected – residents of Maharashtra’s slums and poorest villages.

“It is the poor people who will face the hardest times since it is not going to be easy for them to rebuild shelters to provide care for their little ones,” wrote one ministry leader in an email received by Christian Aid.

The Virginia-based mission agency reported that while most native missionaries supported by Christian Aid in Western India were not harmed in this week’s flooding, thousands of the poverty-stricken people they help were.

“The poorest residents of Mumbai (Bombay) and Maharashtra state have been the worst-affected by floods and subsequent landslide,” according to Christian Aid.

K.P. Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia (GFA), reported from India that 28 hours of non-stop rain had broken all the previous records in the Mumbai area, formerly known as Bombay. The city's slums, where 5 million of the city's 16 million people live, were particularly hard hit.

"Keep in mind some 5 million people live in makeshift huts with dirt floors in the lower parts of Bombay," Yohannan said on Thursday. "It is said that 500 people have already died, and the death toll continues to rise. But one political leader I talked to said that no one really knows how many hundreds and hundreds may have died from among the poorest of the poor in the slums."

GFA has 28 pastors working in and around the slum areas, and they are all reported safe.

"But we have 12 churches in the slums and it looks like all of them were completely washed away," Yohannan added. "Lots of the believers are in terrible suffering.

"Keep in mind that these people keep their rice and other food items and possessions on the dirt floors of their tiny huts. And they have nowhere to go—there is no building they can climb up and find hope. So everything was destroyed," he continued.

"There is going to be a tremendous amount of suffering without drinking water and food for these people—pain and the suffering in some ways we cannot even describe. So we are praying that the Lord will give us wisdom as our brothers go about trying to meet the needs of these poor people.

Like the devastation caused by last year’s South Asia quake-tsunami disaster, Yohannan says “this is another opportunity for us to minister to people who are in need in the name of Jesus and share with them that 'we do this because of Jesus'."

GFA and Christian Aid have requested prayer for the hundreds who lost family members and the millions of people whose lives have been placed in turmoil by the floods.