On March 15th Aaron Snider, Peter Ray Cole, and I made the long trip to India. We remained in India until March 31st and arrived back home on April 1st. I was not really sure what we would be able to accomplish because I had never made a trip that was for the main purpose of doing benevolent work. As it turned out, this trip was not a whole lot different from most trips I have made in the past.
Before explaining what we were able to do, let me thank everyone who sent money for Tsunami relief. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of good brethren, and, because of your caring and generous spirit, we were able to take into India a substantial amount of money.
I had hoped that we would get to visit the areas where the Tsunami struck, but upon arriving in India we were advised that this would not be a very productive trip. The Indian brethren explained that most of the devastation had been cleaned up and that not much rebuilding was taking place because the government was discouraging individuals from rebuilding in these areas. Also, many had been forced to go to other areas and live with friends or relatives because they had lost everything they owned. Because of this, our relief efforts took place from the city of Hyderabad.
Individuals seeking assistance were asked to fill out a form that described what they had lost and how much, if any, help they had received from the government. These forms were collected by church leaders in the areas affected and were then brought to Hyderabad. It is my understanding that almost 4,000 requests for help were submitted. We spent our time during the day going over these forms. We were looking for any duplication as well as trying to determine how much loss they had suffered. A code was assigned to each form indicating the extent of their loss, and, then, we began distributing funds.
Upon our arrival in India, we took the funds you entrusted to us and deposited them in an account that has been established to do charitable work in India. Due to government regulations we were only allowed to deposit so much at one time, so we had to make several deposits while we were there. One of the questions on the form that had to be filled out was whether or not they had a checking account. For those who did we then began writing checks, and these were delivered by church leaders in the areas to the families needing the help.
I cannot begin to describe what a monumental task it has been for those there to gather this information, go through it, determine how much help was needed, and then get them separated into areas so the funds could be delivered. Literally hundreds of hours of work has gone into this effort.
While we were there we helped 476 families by distributing close to $65,000. The rest of the funds are still in the charitable account and will continue to be distributed as long as the funds hold out. For those without checking accounts, arrangements will have to be made to meet them in person to be sure the right people get the help requested. I cannot stress enough how much work went into trying to be sure that the money was handled properly and that only those requesting help were receiving funds.
Because we did not travel to the actual site of the disaster, we were able to conduct gospel meetings at night. During our two week stay there, hundreds heard and responded to the saving message of Jesus Christ. It was a quick trip, but a very productive one, both physically and spiritually. If all goes as planned, I hope to return again in the fall and work once again with the good brethren there.
Let me close this report by making a special request. The outpouring of help for those physical losses these people suffered was truly amazing. Please keep in mind that the people of India have something even more important than their physical possessions they have souls that need to be saved. Our relief efforts focused exclusively on Christians, and it is truly admirable how much people wanted to help their brethren abroad in a time of physical need. You are to be greatly commended for that concern.
Let me ask you, though, to please consider being as generous as you can when people make plans to go and preach the gospel to the lost and request your help. We are truly a blessed people in this great country, and, as I often tell people, the only thing that limits the good that will be accomplished in India is the amount of funds we are able to raise to do the work.
Thank you again for your help, and, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me. PO Box 753, Barrackville, WV 26559.
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