BosNewsLife – A mission organization expressed concern Sunday, October 9, about the plight of its missionaries as well as other Christians and churches in especially India and Pakistan , where an earthquake killed at least 30,000 people, officials said. Gospel for Asia (GFA) said dozens of Christian students were without a roof Sunday, October 9, after a Gospel for Asia Bible College in the Jammu region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmirwas was severely damaged in Saturday morning’s quake, which was felt from New Delhi to Kabul .
“The 32 students who attend [the college] were warned not to return to the building since more aftershocks and tremors are expected,” GFA Founder and President K.P. Yohannan told BosNewsLife from the region. “One wall in the Bible College , which is located in the Jammu region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir , was cracked, and the building was deemed unsafe,” he added.
“So far, reports indicate that all of our missionaries in the affected areas are safe, but we do not yet know the condition of our churches or believers there,” Yohannan said. GFA claims it supports 14,500 native missionaries, many of whom are serving in areas affected by the earth quake.
“Other buildings in this same area collapsed from the force of the quake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, and at least 400 houses were destroyed,” he explained.
Pope Benedict XVI was among other Christian leaders expressing concern Sunday, October 9, and urged the world to be “swift and generous in dispatching aid to those effected by Saturday’s earthquake.
“I pray that the international community will be swift and generous in its response to the disaster,” the Pope told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City for his weekly blessing.
“I commend to God’s loving mercy all those who have died and I extend my deepest sympathy to the many thousands who are injured or bereaved,” he said, speaking in English. However Christian aid efforts are hampered by restrictions “as no relief organizations have been allowed to enter India-administered Kashmir ,” which is controlled by the military, GFA’s Yohannan said.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India with a Muslim majority of about 64 percent, according to GFA estimates. The state includes two distinct regions: Kashmir in the north, with a strong Islamic presence dating to the 14th century; and Jammu in the south, where the Hindu minority is clustered.
As soon as there is an opening into these hardest-hit areas, we will be ready to send a couple hundred people to do relief work. In the meantime, we will do what we can in Jammu , Yohannan stressed.
Elsewhere in India , people of all faiths were homeless, reported BosNewsLife New Delhi Bureau Chief Vishal Arora, who along with his wife Tammy narrowly survived the quake when his third floor home nearly collapsed under its force.
Most of the over 30,000 people who died in one of South Asia’s worst were apparently killed in Kashmir, known as the disputed Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan . The situation was especially grim in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir , said the region’s Minister for Works and Communication Tariq Farooq said today. “Our rough estimates say more than 30,000 people have died in the earthquake in Kashmir ,” he said [Go To Full Story]