"When I heard about it, I was just numb," said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, president and founder of Gospel for Asia, reporting on the monsoon floods that have inundated western India and left more than 1,000 people dead and millions homeless.
"There is a monsoon every year," he explained, "but never in history has there been one of this magnitude."
The floods have been so extensive that a major natural gas plant has been shut down, and people are dying from waterborne diseases. The BBC has reported that 66 people in the state of Maharashtra have died from disease, including 37 in Mumbai (Bombay).
A state medical official said 11 died of leptospirosis in last year's flooding, far below the number already recorded after just one week of this year's rising waters. Most of the victims are in slums, where the floods bring sewage into the homes.
The plant that was shut down supplies two-thirds of all natural gas used by domestic consumers in India.
The floods have also affected Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat states.
In Gujarat, thousands of people have been evacuated from the city of Surat, while in neighboring Maharashtra, thousands more have been left homeless. The floods have also forced the evacuation of villages in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, while hundreds of other communities are still marooned by high water. A major highway from Andhra Pradesh to Maharashtra was flooded, stranding dozens of vehicles.
Dr. Yohannan is currently in India, receiving first-hand reports from GFA area leaders on a daily basis. Their personal observations provide a deeper look into the situation than statistics alone can convey.
"Brother Lalachen, one of our leaders, said there are stranded people who have not eaten for days," he reported. "But he also said that people are not only weeping over the loss of their homes and crops, but that they are now in total despair. They have nothing.
"The Dalits, the backward castes, live in mud houses and hutsthey are the ones who suffer. And what about the beggars with no hands or legs? How can they survive?"
"We have talked to our people in Bombay, Maharashtra, and they reported that it rained nonstop for five or six days," Dr. Yohannan added. "In that state alone, there are some 300,000 homeless and 8,500 villages under water.
"In Andhra Pradesh nearly 7,000 villages have been affected, making nearly 2 million people homeless. It is also estimated that more than 150 died in that state.
"Gujarat is one of the worst-hit states. In the city of Surat, you have more than 400 dead, 6 million homeless, phone lines are gone and 270 villages are completely cut off."
But in the midst of the tragedy, Gospel for Asia Compassion Services workers are already on the scene.
"Our people have already started doing what relief we can," Dr. Yohannan pointed out. "Remember that even though they are also suffering, our missionaries and workers are getting through with food and other physical help for the victims."
Yet GFA's help goes far beyond immediate physical relief.
"As always, this is an opportunity to show the compassion and love of Christ," Dr. Yohannan said. "It is a time to pray for them, counsel with them, and help meet their spiritual as well as physical needs.
"Please pray for the victims and for our missionaries. And please help us as we help them. Any help you can give will be appreciated. We are going to do everything we can to bring relief and hope to these suffering peoplenot just for a few days, but for weeks and months to come."
Click the button below to make a gift to help bring God's hope to the victims of India's floods.
more info: http://www.gfa.org/gfa/flood
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon