BANGALORE, India — When the
worst floods in more than 100 years swept through a village in southern India,
the water did not ask about the rich landowner’s social status before it washed
away his soil, drowned his cattle and destroyed his house.
“For all these years, I was a landowner,” he said. “But from now on, I must go
work in another man’s field.”
Such was the sudden swiftness with which torrential rains in the states of Karnataka
and Andhra Pradesh became a nightmare of overflowing rivers, flooded fields and
demolished houses in early October. The flooding claimed about 300 people and
left at least 2 million homeless.
Thousands fled for safety with only the clothes on their backs as the
floodwaters dissolved their mud dwellings. In his haste to escape death, one
man even abandoned his mother.
“When the flood came, my son cared about his wife and children but left me in
the house,” lamented the tearful woman, who had not eaten for three days.
my son is away, and I do not know where he is. I am living alone.”
Pastor Joga Murthy,* who came with an Indian Baptist Society team to deliver
desperately needed relief, listened to the woman’s story and its grim
assessment of human nature.
“Immediately we helped her with clothing and food so she could eat,” Murthy
said. “Everyone wanted to escape with their own lives, and they did not care
about others in this situation.”
But the men from the Indian Baptist Society came to show that God and His
people hurt for the suffering of others. With money provided through the
Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, the team purchased items that the villagers
had lost in the flood, such as food, clothing and cooking pots.
To deliver aid where it was needed most, the team went beyond the roadside
encampments where thousands of families had taken shelter in tents and were
receiving aid from the government and larger relief organizations.
team trekked into the heart of the flood-ravaged countryside, bringing help to
villages now isolated by ruined roads and washed out bridges.
Team member Simeon Biswas* recalled the pandemonium among starving villagers
who hadn’t seen food for days.
“We couldn’t give it peacefully. They were snatching the food from our hands,”
Biswas said. “This was a very painful situation for us to see.”
That was not the worst of it. The poor farmers had lost not only their
immediate food supply, but the soil they depended on to grow their crops had
been washed away along with their seeds and livestock.
Their homes gone, they
slept on rocks or in the fields and sent their children to live with relatives.
Murthy’s team was the first group to reach the villagers with aid.
“They were very hungry, so when we went, they loudly welcomed us and
appreciated our work,” he said.
When the team returned to the villages later to check on their progress and
inquire about any continuing needs, the residents were shocked that someone
cared for them so much.
“They said, ‘We saw so many people who came, gave food and went, but you came a
second time and asked about our problems,’” Biswas recounted. “We could go,
touch their hearts and listen to them carefully” while carrying a testimony of
love for broken people not merely with words but with visible actions and
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rowntree
has served as a writing intern in southern Asia. For information about the
Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund, visit www.imb.org/worldhunger. For more
information on how to reach the peoples of southern Asia, visit