For years Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) has reached out to the people of South Asia … both through Billy Graham’s Crusades and through the ministry of Associate Evangelists Robert Cunville and the now-retired Akbar Haqq. Shortly after the Dec. 26 tsunami, Cunville partnered with Bishop Ezra Sargunam of the Evangelical Church of India to bring relief supplies to survivors in Cuddalore, India, one of the worst-hit cities on that country’s coast. BGEA’s initial support provided hundreds of families with a week’s worth of food and water, in addition to tents, cooking utensils, stoves and clothing. The men prayed and wept with the survivors, assuring them that there is hope in Jesus.
This isn’t the first time BGEA responded to a need in India.
On Nov. 19, 1977, a cyclone caused an 18-foot-high, 50-mile-wide storm swell to roar 30 miles inland, killing tens of thousands of people and sweeping away many villages in southern India. Billy Graham was in India at the time, preparing for a Crusade. While Mr. Graham was visiting the disaster area, a man grabbed him and pleaded, “Kill us or help us rebuild.”
Mr. Graham took the request to heart and asked people to give financially to help rebuild. Through the World Emergency Fund, a village was built, with 285 homes and a 500-seat church.
The current disaster moved Mr. Graham’s heart again, and he recently wrote to supporters:
“Twenty-seven years ago, I was preaching in Calcutta when a similar disaster hit southern India. … I committed that Billy Graham Evangelistic Association would help to rebuild one of those villages. … As we have watched reports from Asia, Ruth and I have been praying that maybe we could do something like this again–find an isolated village that was completely destroyed and take the responsibility to rebuild it. … We will help immediately in a meaningful way, and of course, we will do it in the Name of Jesus Christ.”
At Decision magazine press time, the country and specific village to be rebuilt had not yet been determined, but BGEA will direct 100 percent of designated funds to the project.