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Quake in Pakistan: Southern Baptist aid headed toward devastated remote regions

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–As the confirmed death toll topped 20,000 in remote towns and villages flattened by the worst earthquake in Pakistan’s history, Southern Baptist workers in South Asia moved quickly to find ways to help survivors.

With an initial $150,000 in Southern Baptist emergency relief funds, workers headed into the region Oct. 9 to assess critical needs and buy supplies. The aid likely will include food and medical supplies. Two workers already have entered one of the most heavily damaged areas with a truckload of supplies, and 150 tents have been delivered to families left homeless by the 7.6-magnitude quake. Workers also are investigating the possibility of sending small teams of disaster-trained volunteers into damaged areas in the days to come.

They’re traveling to “areas that were hardest-hit by the earthquake,” said a worker. “The devastation in mountain villages is vast due to landslides caused by the quake. One national believer described his home village as ‘nothing but dust.’ Please pray that the Lord would lead [relief teams] to the places where immediate help is most needed and to places that might otherwise be overlooked.”

Many who were not injured but lost homes and loved ones are seeking shelter and food with increasing desperation.

“Emergency relief is flooding in, but supplies are diminishing quickly and prices are already rising,” the Southern Baptist worker said. “There has been a mob-like rush for the help that has started, which has been difficult for those trying to help. Please pray for patience, love and calmness for the [aid] workers. This is not something that will immediately be solved, so ask that we have the strength to carry out the task ahead. More than anything, we want people to have an everlasting hope. Ask that we be able to see where the Holy Spirit is working and follow Him. Ask that God will break down barriers and provide the words and opportunities for sharing His love and grace.”

The Oct. 8 earthquake struck hardest along Pakistan’s northwest frontier and in the mountainous Kashmir region — fought over for decades by Pakistan and India. The quake claimed most of its victims in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir but reportedly killed more than 1,000 people on the Indian side. It shook buildings from central Afghanistan to western Bangladesh.

The quake and resulting landslides buried thousands of Pakistani villagers in the rubble of their homes, schools and businesses. Initial rescue efforts were hampered by the remoteness of the region, numerous aftershocks and bad weather.

In addition to the dead, Pakistani officials estimated more than 43,000 people were injured. They appealed for helicopters, tents, blankets and other assistance. More than 2.5 million people lost their homes in the quake and its immediate aftermath, according to United Nations relief coordinators in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

No Southern Baptists serving in South Asia were hurt in the earthquake and its immediate aftermath. But a number of them felt the massive temblor’s force -– including several who were far from the epicenter.

“When the earthquake hit, people ran out of their homes screaming and crying out prayers to God,” a worker in a neighboring country reported.

Another worker, who serves about 1,200 kilometers from the quake zone, said, “Our apartment started swaying. It felt like being in a gently rocking boat, and it went on for a couple of minutes. Most people in our building evacuated for some time, worried about stronger aftershocks.”

A Southern Baptist closer to the devastated region held on as the quake rocked the area.

“I was unsure whether to try to get out of the house or just stand in the doorjamb,” she said. “As soon as we could, we went outside, only to see the surrounding mountains covered with clouds of dust…. We’ve felt aftershocks throughout the day today (Oct. 9) as well. Please pray for those who’ve lost loved ones and homes.”

Other workers in South Asia also appealed for prayer. Their requests include:

— Pray that survivors buried alive under rubble and landslides will be found and rescued.

— Pray that aid will reach remote areas.

— Pray for government leaders and aid workers as they coordinate relief efforts.

— Pray that the thousands of injured survivors will receive spiritual as well as physical healing.

— Ask God to show His children in the region how they should respond to people suffering despair, grief and pain.

— Pray that survivors will sense the presence of the Holy Spirit as He offers peace through Jesus Christ.

— Intercede for the millions of South Asians who do not know Christ, but who are asking many spiritual questions in the midst of this disaster.

To contribute financially to relief efforts, send gifts designated for “South Asia Earthquake Relief” to P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230. All funds will go 100 percent for relief aid. Southern Baptists trained in disaster relief work can e-mail [email protected] for more information about possible volunteer needs.
To view or download a two-minute video about Pakistan and its people, select one of the links below.
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    About the Author

  • Erich Bridges