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So I wrote in my journal, describing the aftermath of the October 1999 cyclone whose 200 mph winds and 30-foot tidal surge devastated the coastal areas of Orissa , India . Originating in the Bay of Bengal , the storm killed an estimated 100,000 people and domestic livestock, mostly by drowning. Government officials called it the costliest cyclone in Orissa’s history.

On January 26, 2001, an earthquake measuring 9.7 on the Richter scale jolted the state of Gujarat , India . In my journal, I described the epicenter at Bhuj: "The massive rubble of collapsed buildings looked like a bombed-out war zone." When an Indian Christian leader and I surveyed the area for a follow-up ministry of compassion, the people told us that more than 100,000 had died.

The tragedy of these consecutive disasters in India, like the horror after 9/11, leads us to a deeper contemplation of God’s purpose. Did God use these disasters to awaken people to their deeper spiritual needs? Can He use tragic events to create opportunities for local believers and missionaries to witness?

For decades we have prayed for an opportunity to enter the world’s second most populated nation. India ’s cyclone and earthquake have opened a door for ABWE to begin ministries of compassion to hurting people, allowing us to partner with dedicated Indian Christians in evangelism and church planting. In the three years since we began partnering with national believers in Orissa, 700 churches have been formed! Indian leaders decide to form a small church once twelve families have followed the Lord in baptism-prior to that they are called "prayer groups." ABWE’s continued goal is to assist national believers in sharing the gospel message so that God might turn tragedy to triumph, terror to trust.

By Jay Walsh American Baptists for World Evangelism ( 2005

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