Church’s “Servant Boat” Brings Relief to Thousands of People Impacted by Super Cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh

Aid workers with the Believers Eastern Church distribute relief items to residents of Kankandighi island in West Bengal impacted by Cyclone Amphan in June 2020. | Believers Eastern Church

A charity boat operated by a network of over 12,000 churches in Asia has provided humanitarian support to thousands of people impacted by Super Cyclone Amphan, a Category 5 storm that forced millions of people in Eastern India and Bangladesh to evacuate their homes last month.

In the wake of the storm that lasted from May 16 to May 21, thousands of families are suffering from the loss of their homes and need food and humanitarian aid.

Believers Eastern Church, a Christian denomination that says it has nearly 4 million members in 16 countries planted by the United States-based missions organization Gospel for Asia, has come to the aid of many who live on the Sundarbans cluster of islands in the Bay of Bengal. The region was already battling a health and hunger crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic before Amphan made landfall.

“Remember in America, we had this unforgettable hurricane in Lousiana, Katrina. Of course, [another] in Houston, Texas, [Harvey]. When you take a country like Bangladesh, Assam and the East coast of India, you have to remember that these are tens of thousands of mud houses. People live on the barest of essentials,” Believers Eastern Church presiding bishop and founder K.P. Yohannan told The Christian Post.

Believers Eastern Church has reached islanders off the east coast of India and Bangladesh through the use of its “Servant Boat.”

“Devastation was so huge. Along with the COVID-19 virus crisis, by the grace of God and His mercy, we have 54 congregations on 54 islands,” Yohannan said. “Our boat carries people to provide help for the suffering people with food and materials and all these things. Although [the storm] happened three weeks ago, every day the need increases because millions are displaced.”

Cyclone Amphan made landfall in West Bengal on May 20, bringing hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread damage across the region. According to the International Water Management Institute, Amphan was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike the Ganges Delta since Sidr in 2007. It is said to be the first super cyclonic storm to occur in the Bay of Bengal since 1999.

Yohannan, who also founded Gospel for Asia, said that he’s heard stories of families who have lost all their livestock, homes and their livelihoods as a result of the hurricane.

“One of the saddest and worst things is these islands, the main way [the people] make a living and get food is basically [through the] ponds they have beside their huts where they raise fish in clean water. When this cyclone happened, all the seawater flooded all the ponds and killed all the fish,” he added.

“In America, when this type of thing happens, the whole country converges to help with roadways and helicopters and everything. It is nothing like that there. These people have been left on their own.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith