June 18, 2008
Report on Nargis Disaster Relief Trip – June 4-12, 2008
A representative from UTT journeyed to Yangon, Myanmar from June 4-12, 2008 to help provide disaster relief from Cyclone Nargis, distributing funds from Understand the Times donors and helping to organize future relief efforts utilizing friends and ministries already established in Yangon and the severely affected Irrawaddy delta area. Three others representing UTT also were in Yangon as tourists and were able to take in funds for disaster relief. We also were able to take in several power tools with rechargeable batteries.
Over $50,000 has been provided from people all over the world who responded to the UTT Myanmar Relief Fund. At this point we have distributed approximately $20,000. All of the funds that have been donated for the Myanmar Relief Fund will be used for this purpose.
We first provided for the immediate needs of the 120 children and adults that we are supporting in Yangon. Meetings were held and a plan was then established to supply food and assist in providing shelter for people in the outlying areas that were most devastated by the cyclone.
The following report put together by Tom (UTT Board member who was in Yangon) lays out some of the things that have been done and what our long-term plan is for assisting and evangelizing. We have not named specific people for their protection, as you will understand.
While we will continue to receive and distribute funds for the Myanmar Relief Fund, our concern at this moment is that we meet our budget for supporting the 120 children, students and adults that we are committed to supporting. While many of the children and students have sponsors, we have many other expenses and immediate needs. In the future we will be posting what these needs are.
Our Biblical Mandate and Goals and Purpose
Be of good courage,
and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God.
And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”
1. Bring Glory to the Name of Jesus Christ
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both
now and forever. Amen.
immediate physical needs due to disaster of Cyclone Nargis
3. Always accompanied by the Good News and the Love of Jesus Christ
was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me
drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you
clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you
came to Me.’
4. Build relationships as bridges to the Gospel, as we go and do relief work
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded
you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the
7. Continue follow-up in designated areas
confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in
you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
The following list provides information about projects already underway:
1. Bogole – Irrawaddy Delta area. Funds provided for purchase of rice, oil, candles, soap, personal hygiene goods and building and repair supplies. M. H. will direct a team including Bible School Students, in conjunction with local Baptist Convention workers that live and work in the Bogole area. (Need future funds for 2nd follow-up trip).
2. Hlaing Thayer – Yangon Buddhist Outskirt area. E. S. will follow-up with work and relief efforts already in place in this area. We provided funds to rebuild 3 ‘houses’ (palm roof shelters); funds were provided for 2 additional food relief trips for purchase of rice, oil, candles, soap, personal hygiene goods for 20 families here. (E. S. has active church plant in this area).
3. Dalla Outskirt area (Jewell pre-school with funds sent earlier, 115 homes were reached and supplied with rice, oil, salt, sugar, soap and candles. 2 additional trips are scheduled to continue this relief effort in this Buddhist area.
4. Laputta – Irrawaddy Delta area. Funds provided for purchase of rice, oil, candles, soap, personal hygiene goods and building and repair supplies. A. Z. will direct a team including Bible School Students, in conjunction with local church workers that live and work in the area, and youth Pastor from his Yangon church. (Need future funds for 2nd follow-up trip).
5. Dadaye - Irrawaddy Delta area. P. L. has visited this area with Alpine water team. P. L. will lead team including Bible Students and in conjunction with a Dadaye missionary (relative of Bible School teacher). Funds provided for relief and repair supplies. (Need future funds for additional follow-up trip).
6. Bogone - Yangon Buddhist outskirt area. P. L. will follow-up with work and relief efforts already in place in this area. We previously provided funds to rebuild bamboo and palm branch ‘houses’, and funds provided for 2 additional food relief trips for purchase of rice, oil, candles, soap, personal hygiene goods. (P. L. is doing missionary outreach work in this area and will take Bible School students for relief work.)
7. Contingency – additional funds that were left :
a. Contingency fund for unforeseen needs
b. Water pump repairs - Bryce Lodge 3
c. Use for future outreach/relief trips
Each leader to these areas will prepare a trip report, including financial accounting, and will report future needs and further outreach opportunities in each area. Based on these reports, we will discuss with Yangon leaders the best approach to follow-up with continued relief efforts in each area, with particular emphasis on long-term ministry and church-planting. Other representatives of UTT are scheduled to be in Myanmar later in June for follow-up.
Disaster relief in Myanmar is at the current time very problematic. No westerners are allowed into the affected outlying delta areas without special army permission. Even the presence of Westerners in many areas of the capital city of Yangon can bring suspicion and extensive questioning of the local workers. Foreign help is limited to bringing in relief ‘tools’ in the form of currency and small hand-carried goods, being encouragers, and helping to organize and make decisions in regard to areas of ministry. Even efforts by locals face the challenges of getting needed supplies into the affected areas. Transportation is difficult and there are many army checkpoints. It is not unusual for checkpoint officials to “accept” relief supplies that they say will be given to those in need in the damaged areas. There are reports of cheap rice available for sale in the affected areas, by sale by those same officials. We have taken steps to enlist both local Yangon Christians and Christian workers they have connections with who live in the delta area and have previously been able to work with ‘officials’ to get supplies to their home areas. Much prayer support is needed, asking our Sovereign Lord to open doors that no man can shut.
Our friends in Yangon have been able to go directly to the "Buddhist Outskirts" areas (slums) of Yangon where they already have house churches and help rebuild some destroyed shacks. They have also provided rice and curry and candles. They will build 3 new "tents" (stilt shacks with palm roof) and bring food again this week. The people of one "Outskirt" church (all ex-Buddhists) came into the city for Sunday service. Oh can they worship! (Westerners going into their area draw too much attention and suspicion on the work). We encouraged them from Hebrews 11/12.
The city area still has a lot of down trees and debris all over and electricity is very intermittent. We were able to supply a generator for one children's home, some small LED camping lights, and some medicines. We have rebuilt one family’s outside toilet that was destroyed in the cyclone by a fallen tree; the tree missed a room in their house where a sister was sleeping by inches. Other friends have taken funds and fed 115 families in a slum area we visited in March that has been severely flooded and damaged. They will continue to return there with relief supplies (they have an ongoing Christian pre-school there). One pastor was able to visit the worst hit Irrawaddy delta area for one day with supplies. People were swimming rivers to get to the goods - very desperate. Pray for open doors and hearts!
Personal Comment from UTT President:
The children and leaders in Yangon that are being supported by UTT have become like personal family to me. God sovereignly sent me to Myanmar three years ago and we have seen His plan unfold. We now have five Bryce Lodges, several churches that have been established and a Bible School with 30 students.
To see God’s hand in all of this has been faith building. As well, to see how people who I have never met, respond to the needs of these dear people has also been life changing.
Please pray for UTT Myanmar – that we can be God’s hand extended. Pray that this terrible disaster will become a great opportunity to share the gospel and many will come to know about the saving grace provided through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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