Remembering – *For generations, the villagers of Anichankuppam, India, have known the ocean. Strong young men and gnarled old men would use 30-foot boats and large nets to catch prawns, jellyfish, mackerel, sardines and other fish. Village women would sell a portion of the day’s catch in local markets and save the rest for their families.
All that changed Dec. 26, 2004, when the tsunami came and washed away the only lifestyle the people had ever known in this village on the east coast of India, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Not only did the tsunami kill five of the village’s residents, but it also destroyed nearly all of the fishing boats and nets, along with many houses. The houses that still stand are no longer used, for fear that they might collapse. Their possessions had been swept out of their homes and were nowhere to be found.
The government erected temporary shelters for the people and provided rice and other basic necessities. But two months after the tsunami, the boats still lay broken on the beach, houses still lay in ruins or stood empty, and the people had lost their main sources of food and income.
BGEA Sends Help – In 2005, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) stepped in to help the people of Anichankuppam. Mr. Graham felt led to help a village in this way, much as BGEA did after another destructive wave hit India’s coast in 1977.
Through its World Emergency Fund, the BGEA purchased several acres of land a few hundred meters inland from the destroyed village. At this safe location, a new village was built, complete with houses, a community center that can be used for church meetings, and a medical clinic.
Returning in 2010 – From Jan. 21-24, 2010, the BGEA will return to southern India for the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope..
“We will be going to Chennai, one of its largest cities, to preach Christ crucified,” says Franklin Graham. “In 2005 and 2006, over 5 million souls were delivered from eternal death and darkness through the power of the Gospel at work through My Hope–our nationwide evangelistic television outreach where Christians open their homes and invite friends and neighbors to hear my father and me preach.”
The January Festival of Hope will continue to build on that foundation, helping thousands of people in India to move past the 2004 tsunami and their personal tsunamis. Watch for live coverage later in January.
Please pray for all Festival preparations, that God will soften hearts, and for people across India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka who are remembering the death and destruction of 2004.
*Portions of the article written by Bob Paulson, editor of Decision magazine.