International Ministries

Neighborly Love

November 12, 2009 Journal
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In the city of Ongole, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, a man and wife had an argument.  It could have been about the way she kept house, about the way she cooked or spent money, or about a situation causing jealousy to take hold.  Whatever the argument was about, it got out of control and the man set fire to his own house.  Close living conditions and thatch roofs meant that the anger and violence of one man spread quickly to the homes of 80 families, devastating many lives. There are few fire brigades and water is not easily available, so there was little to do but watch the fire and stay out of its way while it consumed the few belongings of the people in the community.

In the same state, in the area of the Kurnool, heavy rains drove the spread of flood waters causing similar devastation on a much larger scale.  Overfilled dams and levies were in danger of breaking, so water was released.  This caused rivers to overflow their banks, flooding areas below the dams much like a tsunami except that the waters did not recede.  Many were injured or killed.  Many lost everything they had, including their homes.  Churches were destroyed or badly damaged.  People needed immediate help but it was difficult to get in or out of the area.  The waters were contaminated with sewage, gasoline/oil, and a breeding ground for insects, so people were getting sick, including the relief workers. 

Both of these situations are not uncommon.  We read similar stories in the newspaper or see reports on TV.  We thank the Lord it didn’t happen to us and continue on our way.  We become immune to suffering around us as long as we’re not affected.  It reminds me of the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10.  We can pay attention or ignore.  We can get involved and help or we can go on our own way.  Jesus asked the question, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”  They all knew the correct answer, and Jesus said "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:37) 

Our partners here in India did exactly that.  They heard the call for help; they went to show God’s love and mercy.  In the city of Ongole, the Baptist Convention of Telugu Churches (BCTC) responded by providing supplies for the fire victims and ministering to them through a pastor in the community.  Families received basics to help them get their lives back on track: a set of 2 cooking pots, plates and cups, a sheet and blanket, a sari and a dhothi.  The families were invited to the Jewett Memorial Baptist Church, in Ongole, to receive their supplies.  There was a time of prayer and blessing, and we celebrated the power of love to also spread and restore that which is destroyed by anger and hatred.  It was a reminder that they had neighbors who loved them – in Ongole and on the other side of the world – because there is a God who loves them.  Betsy and I enjoyed witnessing God’s people serving His people as He has said they should.

The Telugu Baptist church leaders and staff of Abundant Life Ministries, another partner ministry in the area, responded to the needs of the flood victims in Kurnool.  They used resources they had to reach the people in need and to distribute food and household supplies.  Many of you were a part of this neighborly demonstration of love by your gifts to the World Mission Offering which helps support these ministries and by your gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing which provided support for the relief efforts.  Thank you for being neighbors to God’s people in India.

Please pray:
*For the safety of the relief workers, several of who have gotten sick after their work in the flooded areas.
*For the families as they “start over”, many still face the rebuilding of their homes and churches.
*For the pastors and evangelists who are ministering in these areas.
*For funds to rebuild churches:  $4000 for a church building