Churches seek aid for Bangladesh after cyclone claims 3,100 lives
Cyclone Sidr, with winds topping 150 mph, roared across the Bay of Bengal and slammed into Bangladesh, one of the world’s most densely populated countries, on Nov. 16.
“Thousands of trees were pulled out from the root and thrown afar,” said Ibon Halder, a minister and assistant director of Khulna Bible College, a ministry training facility in Bangladesh.
At least 3,100 people died in the storm, according to government estimates, but George Roy suspects the number is much higher.
Roy, a native of Bangladesh, is a member of the 16th and Decatur church in Washington, D.C. Roy planned to travel to his homeland Dec. 27 to assess needs.
At least three church buildings were destroyed and several more were damaged, Halder said. In some areas, the cyclone destroyed the church’s meeting place and the homes of every member.
The storm also destroyed rice fields across the region, which could result in food shortages in the already impoverished country, Roy said. “Mainly, we need food, seed and capital so people can start their work again,” he added.
Government and charitable organizations are providing relief, said Michael Brooks, minister of missions and evangelism for the Highland Park church in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Brooks makes regular trips to Bangladesh.
“However, because of the millions of victims and the fact that Bangladesh is a majority Islamic nation, many members of the Churches of Christ may not receive sufficient assistance through these sources,” Brooks said.
The Highland Park church is providing relief funds. Church members in Bangladesh are administering the funds “so that they reach those who are in greatest need,” Brooks said.
In addition to helping victims, Roy plans to conduct a gospel meeting in Bangladesh — which could result in a new congregation.
Church members have received the love of Christ, he said, and “we must share that love with those suffering.”
CONTRIBUTIONS FOR RELIEF may be sent to Highland Park Church of Christ, P.O. Box 2216, Muscle Shoals, AL 35662. Please note “Bangladesh Cyclone Relief Fund” on checks. For more information, call (256) 381-8311 or contact the 16th and Decatur church at (202) 882-4711.