"Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!" - Psalm 31:2
There was nothing unusual the night of February 5th in the southern island town of Kyauk Kar in Myanmar. Children came home from playing; families ate their evening meals together; conversations wound down to a close.
Then, someone smelled smoke.
Massive fire broke out in the center of the city, spreading rapidly between the shanty-style thatch roof homes. Children and the elderly were jumping from second story windows to escape the flames. Smoke billowed. People were running and screaming, trying to find loved ones as the fire continued to spread. It was utter chaos.
"The fire swept away the island city of Kyauk Kar, which consisted of [more than] 600 houses...with 1540 persons who lost all their possessions in the fire," our mission partner reported.
Families were devastated, many of which had no means of rebuilding their lives. Only twenty days later, tragedy stuck the neighboring village of Pyauk Sak Gone. Another fire broke out, leveling over 94 homes belonging to roughly 575 people. Whether the fires were started by lightning or by foul-play did not even matter at this point. Everything was destroyed.
By the grace of God, our mission partners in the area reached out to IDES for emergency assistance, seeing the dual-tragedy as an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a very tangible way.
"Our primary purpose was to supply the immediate needs of the victims like foods, medicines and construction items for permanent impact. For a person who is in desperate need, everything he can grasp is important," our partner said. "As they have lost all their possessions, they are in trauma and need psychological help or counseling. But above all, it is very important to give [physical] help [for them to] keep on living."
Thanks to your generosity, IDES was able to provide rice, cooking oil, and building materials to the families affected by the mass fire. It is only by the donations of our faithful supporters, and by the hands of God that IDES is able to assist our mission partners around the world in their time of need.
"They all are Buddhists and Burmese people according to religious and ethnic background. We are sure that they need the Lord Jesus and salvation. We pray that this fire open the door of gospel to their villages. These villages are located in a very remote country site, they have never heard about Christ and Christians," our partner said. "But this time they have not only heard about but also received love gifts from Christian brothers who love God. We have explained about it. They will be reached with the gospel shortly. It is a very good method to receive physical helps first to bridge the spiritual needs to be met. Though it is their first hearing about God, there is great expectation that the seed we sow will grow very soon."
We are authoring these stories together. Let's continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Myanmar, and all those around the world who are currently suffering the affects of natural and manmade disasters.