Myanmar Lutherans are pitching in to alleviate the impact of severe flooding, which has devastated central and southern regions of the country since the onset of the monsoon season. Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) International Mission is seeking urgent prayer and financial support from LCA/NZ members.
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar, the oldest Lutheran synod in the country and located in the capital Yangon, are providing blankets, clean water and rice to some of the thousands of people who have been rendered homeless by the flooding.
‘People had to run away from their homes to higher ground and sanctuary for their own survival, leaving all their belongings. The living situation is so severe that all sources of water are contaminated with seawater and there is no food’, says Luke Andrew, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar involved in providing the relief.
Pastor Matt Anker, LCA Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission says, ‘I’m humbled by the response of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar to the suffering that has engulfed so many people in their country’.
It’s at times like this that people who may have never heard about God can see him through the love of Christians
‘While they are a struggling church, they did not hesitate to reach out in love and mercy to all in need, bearing witness to God’s love in actions and words. It’s at times like this that people who may have never heard about God can see him through the love of Christians.’
Even in the face of such hardship, Luke also sees God’s love and mercy, ‘Despite the differences in belief, race and ethnicity, people come together to help those in need. I am inspired to see that someone would open their door to let strangers come in and eat the food off their table’.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that more than 50 people were killed in a landslide on Friday and that many more are missing. Since the flooding began in June, more than 150,000 people have been displaced but, as floodwaters have receded in some parts of the country, some people have been able to return home. Last Sunday, however, across the country more than 80,000 people were still sheltering in evacuation sites.
Over the next few days, the forecast is for more rain, with the risk of further flooding.
Luke and his team are heading towards the Kyaitmaraw township in Mon State to help over 1000 people from 230 families – a journey that will take about 8 hours from Yangon by car and boat. They will be distributing rice, oil, instant noodles, cans of fish, pickled tea leaves, soap, drinking water and some medical aid.
‘I encourage members of the LCA/NZ to pray for our brothers and sisters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar as they reach out with love and practical care to their suffering neighbours’, Pastor Anker urges. ‘Please pray that they might have opportunities to share the gospel in their words, as well as in their actions, so that the people of Myanmar might come to know the God from whom all love comes.’
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Myanmar is a partner church of the LCA. LCA International Mission has sent $5000 from its disaster relief budget, but Pastor Anker says ‘more is probably going to be needed’.
‘Our special thanks to all our brothers and sisters at the LCA who aid in this time of need with their fervent prayers and unfailing loving support’, Luke says.
LCA/NZ members are invited to support our sister church in Myanmar to help their neighbours in desperate need, at LCA International Mission Donate Myanmar (select ‘Special Projects’).