Samuel is a pastor and missionary leader in South India with whom HeartCry began partnering in February 2013. He is married and has two children. Together with his father, Samuel oversees the training of several pastors who labor in the villages surrounding his city.
The terrifying cyclone ‘Hadhud’ rocked the coastline of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha (in South India) on the October 12, 2014. The mighty winds, moving at a speed of two hundred kilometers per hour, rattled many houses, damaged the communication systems, and thwarted the power supply in the whole region. To put it in the insightful words of my uncle, who lives in Visakhapatnam, “It was devastating. What is the point of having all the money in the world when you cannot save yourself from something like this?”
A Christian Response
First of all, we must understand that God was in control and that this cyclone was no accident. We must also understand that God, in His Grace, sometimes shakes the very foundations of human pride and causes men to repent of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ, His Son. Now, the question is, “What are we as Christians supposed to do when something like this happens?”
What Would Jesus Do?
Based on what is written in the Scriptures, we can safely assume that Jesus would preach the Gospel of repentance to everyone present (Luke 13:3, “[U]nless you repent, you will all likewise perish”; I Timothy 2:4, “[He] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”). And then, He would heal the sick and give them something to eat and drink (Matthew 14:14-16; Mark 5:43; Matthew 25:31-46). People’s hard-heartedness would not deter Him from reaching out to them with compassion (Mark 8:2).
What Should We Do?
Responding with compassion and kindness towards the grief-stricken is of paramount importance. Like Tabitha, we should be relentless in helping others (Acts 9:36). In fact, selfless, sacrificial love is a proof-positive that we have the true God dwelling within us (I John 3:17). To put it in the Spirit-inspired words of Moses, “But you shall open your hand wide to him [the poor brother] and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs” (Deuteronomy 15:8).
What We Did!
As I looked at the damage caused by the cyclone, the Lord placed a strong desire within me and others in the church to help the people in some way. Of course, we were aware of our own limitations. Ours is no mighty organization, nor is it our first priority to do such relief work. Therefore, it became necessary for us to find a church near the affected area where we could be of help. Thankfully, we found a church in a village in the Vakara* District. The roof of the church building was blown away by the cyclone, but the believers were still worshiping there. Many other people from the community came to the church in anticipation of receiving aid.
After traveling 550 kilometers, Brother Reuben* (a member of our church) and I reached Vakara on the night of the 13th. We were able to distribute Bibles, blankets, and food among eighty-four families. We truly praise God for helping us so that we could in turn help these poor people. We are also thankful to HeartCry for their help with traveling expenses and Bible purchases. We made a point to admonish all those who took the Bibles to actually read them and not to just take them as some sort of magic charm!
We arrived at the village somewhat late, but many were waiting for us. I preached the Gospel, emphasizing the need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is Savior, who alone has the power to control our lives. I preached from the text, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36). Some of the people were convicted of the love of God, and we talked with them concerning their souls. We praise God for all that we were able to do there in such a needy place.