The last 18 days of 2012 brought torrential rains, floods and landslides to Sri Lanka, affecting 400,000 people and changing lives forever. As weather subsides, many of the displaced are now returning to find their homes, crops and livestock completely destroyed.
“Although Sri Lanka is geographically situated to endure frequent flooding, this is the worst in eight years,” said K. P. Yohannan, president of Gospel for Asia. “Unlike people in other areas of the world, the vast majority of Sri Lankans do not have the option of relocating to areas less prone to flooding. We must minister to them where they are as they try to normalize life.”
More than two weeks of torrential rains and strong winds leading up to Christmas brought floods and landslides that killed at least 20 people. Seven are still missing.
Shortly before the New Year, more than 31,000 people were still displaced in 246 camps around the country. Some victims are just now leaving their temporary shelters to discover what is left in their villages. Many districts are still under water.
“As floodwaters contaminated wells, clean water was a major first concern,” said Yohannan. “With hundreds of Gospel for Asia national missionaries already in place, we were able immediately to provide victims water, along with rice, lentils and oil.”
GFA compassionate ministry teams began cleaning wells to eliminate water-borne diseases as quickly as possible. Others worked to provide basic temporary shelter even as rain continued.
“But the majority of the work is restoration,” said Yohannan. “There is much hard work ahead.”
The crops that provide many families their only source of income are completely destroyed. Families’ goats and chickens are gone.
“In all that we do, we listen and love, showing people a greater hope,” said Yohannan. “As they discover a God who loves them, they are opening their hearts to the good news.”