Andhra Pradesh Floods
October 15, 2009
Headquartered in Chirala
On January 30, 2007, Pastor Del Palmer, AFLC-USA, Director of World Missions, dedicated “Grace Free Lutheran Church” of Elachet-laqdibba, a fishing village. The church had a second story rooftop which could be a refuge during times of flooding. Two and a half weeks ago, that is exactly what that building did. There’s more.
Rajoli, one of 500 villages in Andhra Pradesh's five districts, symbolizes the flood devastation that permeated the area. With a population of 15,000, it was destroyed by flooding in the dead of the night on 1 October. Almost a week later, row after row of houses and shops are rubble or washed away. Heavy rains over six more days flooded the provinces of Kanataja and Andhra Pradesh resulting in the worst flooding in 100 years.
Grace Free Lutheran Church of Elachetladibba was constructed so that its roof would serve as a refuge in times of flooding. The church was decorated and people celebrated its dedication January 30, 2007. The church is situated on high ground, perhaps 15 feet or so above the river flood plain which is very flat and stretches for miles in the province of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Some 250 people have reportedly died and 2.5 million people no longer have livable homes. Crops are decimated. By October 7th, the Indian government had opened 1,506 relief camps housing 827,000 people. The full extent of flooding is undetermined even now since access to flooded villages is impossible. Luther Sastry reports that two fishing villages with AFLC-I churches have basically been destroyed. Bottom Line: Many people have yet to receive assistance.
Church communities are pulling together, including Lutherans. The Churches’ Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI), and Lutheran World Service India (LWSI), are coordinating their responses. Luther Sastry (AFLC-I) reports that the AFLC - USA has sent a $1000 for immediate flood relief at this time.
CASA has proposed 2-month emergency assistance program targeted at 7,500 families, focusing on food, nonfood relief items, and temporary shelter (plastic sheets) in Karnataka State and Andhra Pradesh. UELC has proposed a 3-month emergency assistance program targeted at 7,500 families for food, nonfood relief items, and materials for repair of damaged huts in 80 villages in Guntur District of Andhra Pradesh (about 50 miles north of Chirala) not targeted by CASA. The ACT Coordinating Office has yet to announce its relief work. LWSI assessments are likely to focus on Kurnool and Mahboobnagar districts of Andhra Pradesh (about 50 miles south of Chirala) using dry food rations for 20,000 families for 15 days, nonfood relief items for 5,000 families, and sanitation and emergency shelter materials. The ACT Coordinating Office expects to receive the LWSI appeal proposal by the end of this week for approximately a further $800,000 US.
Pastor Luther Sastry reports from Chirala that “this is a great disaster which has never happened in the history of Andhra Pradesh. Hundreds of villages are ruined due to floods! Two of our AFLC-I villages, Potharlanka and Elachetladibba (the fisherman village about 60 miles northeast of Chirala have been badly affected by this flood. People have lost their belongings and now they are in relief camps. Some of them have not come out of the villages and are still on tops of buildings. Food has been carried to them by helicopters. There are two major needs outside of the housing and shelter dilemma. Three months worth of rice supply and other relief goods are immediately needed. A crop can reasonably be expected at the end of this three-month period. Kindly pray for the relief of these people.” The effects of flooding are perhaps best noted in communication. Pastor Luther notes, “I have not heard from Pastor Prabhudass for the last two days. He might have lost his mobile phone battery charge. There is now no communication from these villages at this time.”
Here in the US, the Board of Alpha Omega Compassion met on Monday (October 12, 2009) and is urgently seeking any fund donations for Indian Flood Relief. All funds will be directed to Association of Free Lutheran Congregations--India. Individuals, if desired, may direct donations to:
Alpha Omega Compassion
c/o Eugene Enderlein, Executive Director
4600 Hemlock Lane North
Plymouth MN 55442-2471
For more information, visit this website:
Alpha Omega Compassion - Caring with an India Focus
Alpha Omega Compassion Update
January 21, 2009
Christians in India have been under active persecution since last August when an Hindu politician was assassinated. Militant Hindus took the opportunity to blame Christians for the political assassination and intimidation and oppression resulted. Perhaps 55,000 people were displaced as a result with 15,000 still being denied some access to their homes and churches. Silverhill's Pastor David Johnson, President of Alpha Omega Compassion (AOC), has a special interest in India and presented its concerns and detailed potential Indian mission opportunities in Osceola, WI, at the "Pastors Conference" of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregation's Association Retreat Center. AFLC pastors from across the U.S. gathered for the meeting.
Pastors David Johnson (Zion Lutheran Church, Silverhill, AL) and Jerry Peterson (First Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, OK) (l to r) shared in a moment of prayer at the "Pastors Conference" of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations' Association Retreat Center (Osceola, WI) prior to discussing the ministry of Alpha Omega Compassion and the India focus. Not pictured is Pastor Gene Enderlein (AOC Executive Director, Minneapolis, MN) who joined Pastors Johnson and Peterson on the podium.
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Pastor Gene Enderlein (Executive Director of AOC, Minneapolis, MN), Pastor Jerry Peterson (Vice President of AOC and Pastor of First Lutheran Church, Oklahoma City, OK), and Pastor David Johnson (President of AOC and Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Silverhill, AL) presented an update on the status of ministry in India, especially focusing on Chirala and Andhra Pradesh where Pastor Luther Sastry heads the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations - India. The presentation was based on a number of questions which were sent to Pastor Luther on Monday, December 29, 2008, aimed at developing a Current Ministry Assessment - AFLC-India for the AOC foundation. Pastor Luther's responses were received on Friday, January 16, 2009, and were shared with attendees at the Pastors Conference held January 20-22, 2009.
The questions, in italic, presented to Pastor Luther related to various areas of ministry. His assessment of the local Christian position is presented in bold print:
- Joint Work With Other Pastors re Mutual Protection. You shared that the militant Hindus were having their most impact north of Andhra Pradesh and that local pastors in your district were organizing for mutual protection. What is the current political situation and how is the need for joint work with other non-Lutheran pastors affecting the AFLC-India? I understand that elections are in late winter or early spring--will things change after the election? How has the political unrest affected the financial position of the church and its support for local ministries?
Joint work with other pastors is helping pastors in many ways. All political leaders have recognized the association of pastors. They understand that there are 50 to 70 families behind each pastor and they are the strength of this man. They are supporting the pastors' association because they think that these will help them vote in the general election.
This has affected the AFLC work in our area. For example when we conducted open air gospel meetings in villages last week, pastors participated in them without denomination limitations. We saw large gatherings of believers in each meeting. Thus, non-Christians noticed the strength of the Christian community.
Because of the political unrest the financial position of the church is badly affected. Prices have gone up and middle class people are not in a position to buy essencial commodities. This has resulted in reduced giving of the believers in the Church.
- Medical and Clinical Services via the AFLC-India. You have been working with your local health care provider now for some time. What kind of village outreach do you have? What medical needs have been observed? In terms of that building we were talking about, would you estimate greater space needs for medical applications or was half of one floor adequate? Has your health care provider expressly discussed specific needs?
At present we have mobile clinics in villages where there are no other medical facilities. Our doctor takes medicines to the villages, examines patients, and supplies medicines to the poor patients. Since we do mobile clinics in the villages, half of one floor is adequate for health ministries in the proposed multi-purpose building.
The doctor continues to need medicines for free distribution.
- School. How many children (ages and grades) do you currently have enrolled at St. Paul's Lutheran Public School as of the beginning of 2009? How many have no financial support for their education and no sponsor to pick up any education costs? What is the current tuition needed to send one child to school for a month? In terms of the building we were talking about, would you estimate the space allocation in that three story building would still meet needs, or is some modification needed?
At present there are 320 kids in St. Paul's Lutheran School. All these children have been supported by the Canadian Church via Pastor Al Pinno's efforts. These kids range in age from 3 to 14 years. Each one needs $12 per month to cover his/her tuition and fees. For the next academic year, we will add curriculum for the 11th grade. And we anticipate that there will be at least 60 more children enrolled in the school at that time.
The proposed three story building will meet the anticipated needs of the children at this time.
- Village Support. Global Health Ministries has done some support of well-drilling. Have they completed their commitment for drilling? In terms of villages still needing potable water, would you provide a list? What is the cost of a well in the respective villages, recognizing rocky versus sandy soil differences? Would you name those villages and the dollar values needed to provide a well as of the beginning of 2009?
There are many remaining villages needing wells. For rocky areas it costs 45 to 70 thousands rupees (approximately $1000 to 1600 per well). In sandy areas we need only Rs. 10,000/- to 15,000 (approximately $200 to 300 per well).
- Multi-Purpose Building. Our last discussion of the three story building (which would house school, referral clinic from villages, orphanage, and offices related to continuing education, etc.) involved a revision of original building costs to about $180,000 American. With the change in economy, have building construction expenses changed at all? Could you give me a figure for construction based on construction costs at the beginning of 2009?
The price has gone up to $235,000.00 for the multi-purpose building construction.
Alpha Omega Compassion
August 19, 2008
Pastor David Johnson of Silverhill's Zion Lutheran Church joined two other incorporators to form "Alpha Omega Compassion," a non-profit mission organization concerned with development of church infrastructure in India. He became president of the organization at its first meeting, joining with others from across the country concerned with the Indian church.
Alpha Omega Compassion Director, the Reverend Eugene Enderlein (right), recently shared the pulpit with Association Free Lutheran Congregations-India President, the Reverend D. Luther Sastry (left), in a variety of church services in Andhra Pradesh, India. He preached in numbers of mud-construction church buildings as well as in a few concrete-construction church buildings. Mud buildings deteriorate in monsoons when flooded. The newly incorporated AOC plans to pursue support of church infrastructure in India.
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The State of Minnesota incorporated the newly formed non-profit organization, "Alpha Omega Compassion," on April 10, 2008. The incorporators , David Johnson (Silverhill, Alabama), Marybeth Nelson (Maple Grove, Minnesota), and Gerald Peterson (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), completed the initial organization and bylaws with the assistance of Eugene Enderlein (Plymouth, Minnesota). (Stephen Odegaard of Everett, Washington, and Eugene Enderlein became new directors at the organization's first meeting.) Enderlein, Johnson, Odegaard, and Peterson are pastors on the clergy roster of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, Plymouth, Minnesota. Nelson is a teacher/homemaker.
Alpha Omega Compassion Director, the Reverend Gene Enderlein (left), shares the pulpit with Association Free Lutheran Congregations-India President, the Reverend D. Luther Sastry (right), at a church service in the Indian village of Zillellamudi. The Missions Committee of the Association Free Lutheran Congregations-USA supported the concrete church building as part of a project entitled "Kattudaamu Randi." Many Indian congregations do not have concrete church buildings. The newly incorporated AOC plans to pursue support of church infrastructure in India.
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The organizational and first official meeting of the organization on August 19, 2008, resulted in the following officer positions being filled: Johnson--President, Peterson--Vice President, Enderlein--Secretary, and Nelson--Treasurer. Odegaard was elected a corporation Director, bringing the organization's director number to five. Enderlein was appointed Executive Director of the organization. AOC ratified an agreement with Eastern European Mission Network to receive funds on behalf of AOC until its full 501(c)(3) status is affirmed by the IRS. An initial projects list was compiled. Web pages will shortly be constructed using domain names www.AOC.org and www.AOC.com.
AOC has been organized exclusively for religious mission purposes with particular emphasis on support for infrastructure needs identified by Lutheran-related churches in the Third World, emphasis India. In obedience to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ, it seeks to demonstrate His love through acts of compassion by seeking to provide for the poor and needy in terms of medical professionals, facilities, and supplies, and facilitating procurement of sources of safe drinking water and sanitary facilities. It will seek to assist in addressing the physical facility needs of the orphaned, widowed, and aged. It will seek to aid in development of facilities for the education of underprivileged children. AOC may provide aid to the distressed in the form of food, medicine, clothing, or other life sustaining needs.
AOC is fully supportive of the AFLC-USA and its efforts through its World Missions Commission in its goal to support the training and work of pastors abroad in such places as India. While supportive of this work and ministry, the AOC focus will be on support of infrastructure projects which will seek to augment that training and work supported by others.
Information concerning Alpha Omega Compassion and its mission can be obtained by contacting the Executive Director of this new organization by phone at (763) 557-2996, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by US Mail at Alpha Omega Compassion, 4600 Hemlock Lane North, Plymouth, MN 55442-2471.