by Bob Gerow
Few of us can remain unmoved by the reports of the recent disaster in Myanmar (formerly Burma). The severity of the storm and the extensive damage took everyone by surprise.
Half a world away, we can only imagine what it must be like to have been swept up in the storm, to have lost family, possessions, home, livelihood-everything!-and have to start over again.
Relief efforts have been complicated by the structure of the nation and its culture. Visas have been hard to come by. Suspicion of outsiders is even more difficult to overcome. While the nation of Myanmar and the rest of the world tried to navigate these difficulties, more lives were imperiled from disease, hunger, and dislocation.
While the major players were negotiating for large-scale efforts, some of God's people were able to get to work within just a few days. One such organization was AMG International in Chattanooga, Tenn.
AMG has had ministry contacts in Myanmar for many years. Satisfied to serve quietly alongside courageous fellow believers, media outreach, teaching, and childcare efforts have steadily influenced lives and helped support growing believers in their walk with Christ.
It was those believers, national workers and evangelists who became the hands and feet of small but meaningful efforts to bring relief to God's people during a time of great hardship and suffering.
AMG received its first communication two days after the cyclone. AMG's national director in Thailand wrote: "God willing, I will be leaving for Yangon the morning of May 8th to meet with the local church leaders. Pray that God will open a way for them to do the relief work and meet the needs. Please try to help us from AMG-US." AMG promptly set aside funds for immediate relief measures. More will be sent as we get word from our partners in Myanmar and Thailand about specific needs we can help meet, and as AMG friends and sponsors respond to this ministry opportunity.
The following update came May 9th from the office manager of AMG's office serving Myanmar and Thailand:
"Our director has been in Yangon, Myanmar, since May 7. He had a meeting with local church leaders. He also delivered some medicines and about 60 kg. of other supplies. After the meeting, 20 evangelists left for 10 locations to distribute the emergency supplies, taking with them about $600(US) as well. They will meet again next Wednesday to plan their next steps.
"In Yangon, our director was able to discuss the situation with an authorized person of the National Rescue and Relief Committee from the Dept. of Social Welfare. He was told that any help in kind or in cash is welcome but recommendations for visa applications cannot be made. They are not ready to accept a lot of foreigners to the disaster areas. Aid materials can be delivered by shipping or flights. Advance notice needs to be secured. Photos cannot be taken beyond the airport or harbor areas. Arrangements to deliver materials can be made only by Myanmar nationals. They will be in charge for the distribution also.
"There is still a need for more medicine, food, clothes, mosquito nets, and things which will be useful for daily use are needed. (Editor's note: Updated information from AMG's Website, www.amginternational.org, says: AMG has already sent $10,000 for immediate relief measures. We would like to send more. Two things will help determine what "more" will be: a) Word from our partners in Myanmar and Thailand about specific needs we can help meet, and b) The generous response of AMG friends and sponsors to this opportunity.')
"AMG (Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel) is a registered non-profit Christian organization helping the needy children of Thailand. It also serves in Myanmar with children's ministries, but is not registered in that country.
"Thank you very much for your great concern for our people. Please continue your prayers that they may see and feel the love of the living God through this hard time."
For current updates and information please visit www.amginternational.org. A prominent headline on the main page will direct the visitor to "Myanmar Disaster Report" where you can learn more and donate if you wish.
Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International.