2016 Archived Updates

Backpacks Help Children Continue Their Schooling

June 28, 2016

GFA World-supported workers continue to help Sri Lanka's flood victims by providing cooked meals and dry food packets, as well as school materials for their children. Floodwaters destroyed many homes and household belongings, creating a variety of needs for flood victims.

On June 8, GFA World-supported workers distributed schoolbags to 92 children who lost their school items in the flood. The schoolbags contained a water bottle, a lunch box, pencils, pens, schoolbooks, erasers, a ruler and a pencil sharpener. The children also received a pair of shoes with their school supplies.

"Earlier, I was so worried about my education and necessary things," one child shared. "But now I am happy to receive this schoolbag with all the [supplies] for my studies."

Our field correspondent wrote, "This helped the people in the surrounding area to restart their children's schooling without any problem. The team could see the [beaming] faces of the children once they got the schoolbags, and that showed the hope of tomorrow in their lives."

Families in five areas of Sri Lanka received dry ration food packets, and those who were unequipped to cook any food were given prepared meals.

Teams of GFA World-supported workers continue to bring relief to families who have been affected by flooding and are helping clean up from the destructive floodwaters.

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Please Pray For:

  • GFA World-supported workers will have more opportunities to meet the practical needs of flood victims.
  • God will enable families to rebuild homes and find employment.
  • Children affected by flooding will be able to return to school and continue their education.

Rain Resumes, Floods Rise While Illness Spreads

June 9, 2016

Heavy rainfall resumed on May 28, inundating Sri Lanka after a short respite from rain allowed floodwaters to partially recede. Water levels are on the rise again, submerging roads, homes and crops and forcing more families into relief camps. Many areas already have 2 feet of water that are destroying property and livelihoods. Waterborne illnesses are spreading and causing additional misery for flood victims.

Teams Continue Bringing Relief

On May 31, GFA World-supported Compassion Services teams provided 75 food packets containing several staple food items to flood-affected families and are serving meals for people in relief camps.

GFA World-supported pastor Havish also received aid during a distribution event. Relief teams provided mattresses, kitchen items and other practical items to his family. Like many other families in his area, Pastor Havish was forced to evacuate and lost all his household items in the flood.

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Compassion Services teams are also responding to a request to provide more school supplies for local children. Plans to clean wells in one area were postponed due to rain bringing 3-foot floods. Traveling to affected areas is difficult, but teams are bringing aid at every opportunity.

Pastor Affected by Contaminated Water, Still Serves His Community

Pastor Rehan, another GFA World-supported pastor who has been affected by flooding, is suffering from sores and itching on his hands and legs due to the polluted water in his area. Floodwaters often breed disease and spread waterborne illnesses to people wading through contaminated water.

When Pastor Rehan's home was flooded, he lost all his household items, including his hearing aid. Items such as mattresses, pots, bedding and dishes have been given to Pastor Rehan, but he is suffering from severe headaches and problems with his hearing.

Despite his personal loss and discomfort, Pastor Rehan is thinking of others in need around him and will be involved in distributing more relief items in his community.

Please Pray For:

  • Pastor Rehan and many others suffering from waterborne illnesses will experience healing.
  • God will send relief to Sri Lanka and cause floodwaters to recede quickly.
  • Transportation will improve, enabling government workers and GFA World-supported workers to bring aid to more affected areas.
  • Compassion Services teams will be able to host medical camps and clean wells as soon as flooding subsides.

Water Levels Recede, Relief Work Continues

June 2, 2016

Floodwaters are receding in some areas of Sri Lanka, allowing families to return to what is left of their homes and household items. However, many evacuees are still stranded in relief camps and are unable to return home until the flooding subsides.

Thousands Helped Through Relief Teams

GFA World-supported Compassion Services teams are helping clean up the silt left within homes along with cleaning wells floodwaters have polluted.

Teams are also working to meet families' immediate needs by distributing food packets. In one area, relief teams distributed 2,790 food packets from May 17 to 22. Another 250 packets were given out on May 26, along with 58 schoolbags containing school supplies for flood-affected children.

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"I was very worried when my books were washed away," one child shared. "But today I am very happy that I have a new schoolbag, and I can attend school happily."

One parent who attend the distribution event said, "Thank you for feeding us for five days and today giving me three schoolbags for my children and the dry ration packet. Thank you so much for your great love and help."

Pastor Loses Everything in Flood

GFA World-supported Pastor Rehan distributed relief items in his community until he was forced to flee to a relief camp. He and his wife jumped into a boat from their balcony to escape the severe flooding in their home. When they were able to return, they found their belongings ruined and their well unusable. Their furniture, kitchen items, mattress, bedding and electronic items were destroyed by the muddy water that filled their house.

He and his wife now must start over, along with many families in similar situations.

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Compassion Services team members helped Pastor Rehan and his wife clean their home and well for two days. They also cleaned the place of worship where Pastor Rehan leads his congregation.

The teams will continue helping clean homes and wells in many communities during the coming weeks. Rainfall still lingers over parts of Sri Lanka, and the threat of more landslides looms overhead—another recent landslide has affected 26 families. Government workers are clearing debris from roadways and assisting with the large amount of cleanup needed in many areas impacted by flooding and landslides.

Please Pray For:

  • GFA World-supported workers will have strength and protection from injury or illness as they clean homes and polluted wells in many communities.
  • Families will have access to food and safe drinking water.
  • Flooded areas will have favorable weather conditions.
  • Families that lost everything in the flood will be able to rebuild their lives and provide for their children.

Torrential Rains Cause Flooding and Landslides, Hundreds of Thousands Affected

May 27, 2016

Since May 15, Sri Lanka's heavy rains have displaced more than 350,000 families. Reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, sending water throughout five districts near Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital. Floodwaters measuring three to seven feet deep submerged many areas, destroying homes and causing mudslides. Rescue workers are searching for survivors among collapsed structures and buried homes and are seeking to provide aid for thousands taking shelter in relief camps.

The death toll continues to rise as rescue teams search for survivors. Reports state up to 92 people have died so far from flooding or landslides, and 109 people are still missing. Transportation is limited, and affected schools are closed until further notice.

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Relief Work Complicated by Floodwaters

GFA World-supported Compassion Services teams are reaching out to affected areas with food and shelter. They have provided 5,000 food packets or meals to victims so far. Many roads have been unpassable due to flooding, which has complicated relief work. Where relief teams managed to cross floodwaters, they distributed items such as rice, dal, sugar, flour, canned meat and other staple cooking ingredients, as well as matches and candles.

Around 350 families within congregations led by GFA World-supported pastors have been affected. The majority of families lost their furniture, refrigerators and electrical items in the sudden flooding. One GFA World-supported Bridge of Hope center is also flooded. Arrangements are in place to provide meals for believers as well as for others in the community.

GFA World-supported Relief Teams Minister to Victims

At the first sign of flooding, GFA World-supported pastor Rehan mobilized a team to begin providing dry food rations and shelter to families impacted by floodwaters in his area. The church building that houses the congregation led by Pastor Rehan was the center of distribution on May 17, until rising waters forced relief teams to relocate to higher ground. The building was soon under several feet of water.

"After we distributed dry rations inside the church," Pastor Rehan shared, "within a few hours, the water level increased, and the church was under water, almost to six feet. Now we are in the [relief] camp, and the camp too is under water."

All Pastor Rehan's belongings were washed away or destroyed. The flooding in his area has gone down, but three feet of water still remain in the church building.

Pastor Havish, another GFA World-supported pastor, evacuated his home with his wife as floodwaters filled the area.

"I have faced this experience for the first time, when water came 3.5 feet straight inside the house," Pastor Havish recounted. "All the household belongings were under water."

GFA World-supported Compassion Services teams plan to continue providing relief as flooding recedes and roads open up. Water levels have lowered and many people are returning to what is left of their homes and livelihoods. Rations of dry food items will be distributed, and teams will help clean homes and wells. Arrangements are also in process for holding medical camps in affected areas.

Please Pray For:

  • God will protect rescue workers and flood victims.
  • Floodwaters will recede so aid can arrive in needed areas.
  • Government leaders and response teams will have wisdom in handling the situation.
  • GFA World-supported teams will be able to provide relief to thousands more flood victims.

2013 Archived Updates

Sri Lanka's Floodwaters and Death Toll Rise

January 09, 2013

As rain continues to fall over much of Sri Lanka, the country's death toll from floods and landslides has reached 43 people, and more than 300,000 have been affected by the damage.

Adding to the island nation's problems, which began nearly a month ago, the minister of health announced an outbreak of leptospirosis, or rat fever, a potentially deadly disease often caused by contaminated water. Citizens were advised to stay hydrated, but many have lost their clean water sources.

With this in mind, GFA World Compassion Services teams are cleaning out wells and areas destroyed by landslides.

Other teams are organizing temporary shelters and distributing dry rations, including rice, lentils, canned fish, milk powder, potatoes, onions, biscuits, toothpaste and soap.

With more than 31,000 people living in 246 relief camps, the extent of the long-term aid needed remains to be seen. Many areas in the north are still underwater, and in some places the floodwaters are still rising.

In parts of the country where waters have receded, families have returned to find thousands of farming acres destroyed and livestock washed away. In addition to the 5,437 homes completely destroyed, more than 25,000 have been partially damaged.

"The majority of the work is restoration," said GFA Director K.P. Yohannan. "There is much hard work ahead."

Please continue to pray for our missionaries as they reach out with short-term aid and long-term restoration.


Sri Lanka's Waterlogged Christmas

December 28, 2012

While people around the world celebrated Christmas this week, catastrophic flooding sliced through the island nation of Sri Lanka, leaving thousands homeless and more than 300,000 impacted—many without the basic needs to survive.

During the last two weeks, a continuous downpour of rain fueled flooding throughout a large portion of the island. Now, at least seven people are missing. The floodwaters have destroyed nearly 4,000 homes and damaged 10,000 others. They have also caused landslides, blocked transportation and wiped out thousands of acres of crops.

Even for those who still have their homes intact, their lives have been dramatically affected. With floodwaters, wells become contaminated, which means clean water is not accessible. Crops, which provide many families their only source of income, are completely destroyed. And with food prices skyrocketing, as a result of the disaster, food is unaffordable to many.

This flood comes on the heels of Cyclone Nisha in early November, which affected approximately 200,000 people and displaced close to 20,000. Unlike many of us, these desperate people don't have the ability to relocate to areas less prone to flooding. They just have to endure whatever comes their way.

Because GFA World has hundreds of national missionaries in Sri Lanka, we already have Compassion Services teams mobilized to supply help to these displaced and hurting people. Some of the help comes in the form of desperately-needed food. Other workers are busily cleaning wells, helping to eliminate water-borne diseases as quickly as possible.

And although we are working to help meet their basic needs, the people affected have an even deeper-desire to have someone who will listen to them as they pour out their hearts. Counseling those whose lives have been destroyed is part of what makes our workers so unique. As the flood victims discover a God who loves them enough to send help, they are open to hear the Gospel—and many respond.

Whether you are able to give or not, those in Sri Lanka need our prayers at this time.

Please Pray For:

  • God's comfort and peace to those who have lost homes, crops or loved ones—and for many to embrace His love
  • Continued provision and grace for Compassion Services teams as they minister to suffering people
  • Opportunities to help Sri Lankans recover and rebuild.

2011 Archived Updates

Battered Sri Lanka Believers Need Help; Houses Collapse

February 3, 2011

In reports that only get worse and worse, stories of loss due to Sri Lanka's floodwaters abound. Homes are collapsing, leaving families without shelter or any of their basic possessions. But more immediately, people in widespread areas are desperate for food and clean water.

As the floodwaters rise, more and more believers have to walk away from all they own to save their lives.

Among those suffering is a large group of believers from GFA World-supported churches. GFA's correspondent in Sri Lanka reports that there is extreme misery. Crops, which provide sustenance for these believers, are damaged; day laborers also cannot work to earn money for food, which is being sold at inflated prices and is largely unavailable due to blocked roads. In that situation, people who lose their homes have little hope of getting supplies to fix the damage.

"Many of our believers' houses have collapsed in these flooded areas," wrote GFA's correspondent, "and most whose homes have not collapsed can't live in their houses because of the damage."

Many believers have nowhere to go as even their church buildings are flooded and can't be used for shelter.

GFA World Compassion Services in Sri Lanka has been active in bringing aid to the flood victims. But the excessive, prolonged flooding is stretching the resources for this desperately needy body of believers.

"My friend, imagine if, in one day, you lost your house, your crops and your ability to earn money. This is the reality that our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka are facing right now," said GFA president K.P. Yohannan. "I'm asking you to take a moment to pray for these fellow Christians as if you were there. Your prayers will make a difference for the suffering believers."


Missionary One of Thousands Who Lost Homes as Floods Devastate Sri Lanka

January 14, 2011

GFA World-supported missionary Anthony lost his home and everything in it as floodwaters washed through his village this week in Sri Lanka.

Anthony, who also serves as a pastor in the Batticaloa district, took refuge with relatives. Thankfully, he, his wife and children all escaped injury as the house collapsed due to the flood waters, but they did lose all of their possessions.

Anthony, and hundreds of believers from churches led by GFA World-supported pastors, are reeling from this blow. They have lost their homes, their crops lay ruined and they have nowhere to turn for help.

The Latest Blow

Sri Lanka has borne the brunt of several major flooding events in the last 12 months. This latest flood is the result of unusually heavy monsoon rains that began in November and continue to fall. The worst-affected areas are in central and eastern Sri Lanka—with the districts of Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee seeing the most damage.

The people in this region of Sri Lanka were just beginning to emerge from the horrors of a 20-year-old civil war, which ended in 2009. Many had finally made strides in recovering from the 2004 Asian Tsunami, which devastated much of this same coastal region.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million people have been affected by this round of floods—more than half of them in the Batticaloa district alone. The death toll stands at 18 and includes a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl who were killed in landslides on Sunday.

The Sri Lankan military has even been called out to rescue hundreds of people who were trapped in the flood waters.

At least 5,000 homes have been washed away and more than 200,000 acres of crops—including the country's staple rice paddies—are under water.

"The people of Sri Lanka are suffering in a way that is almost unimaginable," said GFA World Director, Dr. K.P. Yohannan. "The country has not yet recovered from the record rainfalls that brought severe flooding last year, and now they are battling the same thing again. They need relief, and they need our prayers."

GFA World Compassion Services teams are already venturing out into the affected areas to bring emergency relief to the people. On Sunday, they took 200 food packets to people in the Batticaloa region. Each food packet contained rice, lentil beans (dhal), sugar, dried fish and soya meat (soy protein and meat substitute). The families also received soap so they can prevent the spread of disease which happens frequently after floods.

The teams also handed out mats to the people who are sleeping on the floors in the emergency shelters, which are mostly in schools.

Feeding Body and Soul

The teams do not just drop off food and run on to their next destination. They spend time with the people, who are desperate for someone to listen to their sorrows.

"GFA World's Compassion Services Teams are there to help, to listen, to pray and to share the love found in Jesus Christ," Dr. Yohannan explained. "Of course we will meet their immediate physical needs, but we'll also be there to tell them about a cure for their spiritual hunger and a love that will long outlast the food we give them."

The teams encountered difficulty reaching the affected areas because of high water; however, they persisted and their vehicles were able to make it through some of the flooding, for which they are thanking the Lord.

"I spoke with our Sri Lanka country leader early Thursday morning, and he was heartbroken as told me about the massive devastation," Dr. Yohannan said. "I assured him that our commitment to care for the suffering is strong and that we will commit whatever resources necessary to help these people rebuild their lives. We will continue to get teams in to deliver emergency supplies as long as necessary, and we'll also commit to working with them for the long-term."

Dr. Yohannan shared the following prayer requests for Sri Lanka:

  • Pray that the Lord's mighty hands would be upon this area and that He would cause the weather conditions to change and bring relief to the beleagured people.
  • Finding food and drinking water is a major problem. Pray that the teams would be able to get in with emergency rations and that the Lord would provide for the needs of the people.
  • Pray for protection for the people. Many of those who lost homes are now living exposed to the elements or in crowded shelters, sharing space with hundreds of other families.
  • Pray for the people who have lost all their crops and are now without their major income source for the year.
  • Pray for the people who are helping the flood victims, that the Lord will give them strength to keep going forward and bring aid.
  • Please pray for the Lord to miraculously provide a way for our teams to get to the people who are inaccessible due to flooded roads.

Read more recent reports about flooding in Sr Lanka and how GFA World workers have been bringing the love of Jesus to flood victims.

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