Pakistan crisis grows, straining funds
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
August 26, 2010

Pakistan crisis grows, straining funds

Pakistan crisis grows, straining funds
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
August 26, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The

scope of human suffering in Pakistan is staggering — and only expected to

worsen, Southern Baptist relief workers reported Aug. 23 from that

flood-ravaged country.

More than 17 million people have been driven from their homes, and the Southern

Baptist response may require $1 million in hunger and relief funds — but total

donations so far have barely topped $31,000.

The Indus River will not reach peak flood stage for several more days and it

could be two weeks before the river returns to normal levels because high tides

in the Arabian Sea are slowing drainage of floodwater, Pakistan’s chief

meteorologist told reporters Aug. 24. Millions of people have lost homes,

possessions, crops and livestock, and the United Nations has estimated up to

3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases.

Even in desperate straits, however, some Pakistani flood survivors have

demonstrated generosity toward others in need, said Francis Horton, who with

his wife Angie directs work in southern Asia for Baptist Global Response, an

international relief and development organization that works closely with the

Southern Baptist International Mission Board in crisis situations like the one

in Pakistan.

BGR photo

More than 17 million people in Pakistan have been driven from their houses — losing homes, possessions, crops and livestock.

Horton said his team came across a group of 85 people, mostly women and

children, who were setting up camp on a roadside after fleeing their flooded

village for higher ground.

“They had arrived during the night and were camped on the edge of the highway,

near an overpass,” Horton wrote in an e-mail. “They had no food and very little

water. We put together a plan to get back to them with some cooked food within

the next few hours.

“Angie and I, along with our friends from Indus Christian Fellowship and

another couple that had come with us, bought 26 pounds of chicken curry and 150

pieces of fresh bread and 30 cans of water and hired a truck to deliver it,”

Horton said. “When we arrived back at the site, we enlisted the leader to help

organize and distribute the things, which he did.

“The most amazing thing happened — something I have not seen happen before in a

food distribution,” Horton said. “With food left, the leader said, ‘That is

enough for us. Give the rest to someone else who needs it.’

“I could not believe it,” Horton said. “There are some people in desperate

conditions here in Pakistan. We saw people who had lost most of what they own,

living in makeshift tent camps. We saw trucks loaded with entire villages of

people and their few belongings. And this group of people, as desperate as

their need was, wanted to help others.”

In another location, residents of one camp fought with residents of another

camp across the road when the second group received food, water and children’s

shoes from a relief team, Horton said.

With monsoon season far from over and a second flood crest moving down the

Indus River, the disaster in Pakistan — and the human suffering — will continue

to grow, Horton said.

“The mass of humanity this flood has moved is astounding,” Horton wrote. “The

breadth of this disaster is staggering — and it continues. The second crest of

the river is supposed to arrive in lower Sindh this week, which will cause even

more flooding.

“There are several places where landowners have broken the levies in order to

divert water away from their land,” Horton added. “This has caused floodwaters

to race toward towns and villages that would have otherwise remained dry.”

Pakistan’s army and humanitarian organizations have set up tent camps to

receive internally displaced people, but many families are simply living on the

roadside, under trees on a flat piece of ground that looks like it will remain

dry, Horton said. He has conducted disaster relief workshops with Pakistani

believers, and BGR partners in the country are discussing the possibility of

going with villagers when they return to their homes to help with longer-term

rehabilitation efforts.

The immense scope of the disaster means Southern Baptist relief efforts could

cost as much as $1 million, but donations are lagging far behind the $446,706

that already has been disbursed from existing hunger and relief funds, said Jim

Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response.

“Southern Baptists have always given generously to hunger and relief needs.

They are a people who care about people in need,” Brown said. “As of Aug. 24,

we have received a little over $31,000 to help with this response.

“The scope of this response could put a strain on the hunger and relief funds

to the point that we may not be able to adequately respond to a hurricane in

the Americas or another major crisis like an earthquake in East Asia,” Brown


“We are asking Southern Baptists to join us in urgent prayer for the people of

Pakistan and neighboring countries who are suffering so badly because of this

flood,” Brown said. “This situation creates an opportunity for people to

experience firsthand the love of God, who might never even meet a Christian

otherwise. We’re also asking people to pray that the Lord would move on people’s

hearts to give generously, so others can understand how to have the full and

meaningful life God created them to enjoy.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. To give

toward the flood response in Pakistan, visit the International Mission Board or

Baptist Global Response.)