Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mourning period declared for cyclone victims; hopes rise for open door

Myanmar-Myanmar has declared a three-day mourning period starting today for its cyclone victims.Faced with the threat of another wave of death from mass starvation and disease, they've also tentatively agreed to accept aid from their Southeast Asian neighbors. There are even reports that the country is starting to seek medics. Global Aid Network or GAiN-USA's Charles Debter says, "We are working with Burmese locals who are medical professionals, who are able to go in. And yet we are working with officials in the country with the Ministry of Health to gain permission--and that's a prayer request, that that might come about."A 30-member Thai medic team arrived in Yangon Saturday to extend direct aid to victims. They are the first foreign medical staff allowed by the Myanmar government to carry out relief work. As the days wear on, it is evident that they face a gargantuan task.There are few areas where families were untouched by the tragedy. Debter recounts the story shared by one of their workers. When 200 survivors of one remote area were gathered, a government official asked how many were the sole survivors in their family.Roughly half of those in the group raised their hands. One father said he lost 80 members of his family, including two of his children who were ripped from his arms during the cyclone.Sadly, his story is not unusual.Even sadder, the fight for survival robs people like him from grieving their losses.Believers are responding with the love of Christ. Staff members and local networks of churches and partners are working together to reach out with help and hope.To meet the immediate physical emergency, Debter says they sent six truckloads of food and water filters into the country for distribution. The most acute needs are for water purification tablets, plastic sheeting, emergency food packets, cookware, mosquito netting, and sanitation kits.GAiN-USA is working in tandem with GAiN Australia to assess the needs and to establish a plan to reach out with emergency assistance. They've already trained 350 pastors and other church leaders to distribute the relief in specific target area. "By training the local believers to reach out with care, we are able to demonstrate the love of God through providing tangible help and spiritual hope among those that survived."
Pray for their courage, protection, strength and dependence upon the Lord in these challenging days.

As in the days of Noah....

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