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Rebuilding in Chennai

AG World Missions and other Assemblies of God-affiliated ministries stepped up when historic rainfall and flooding devastated Chennai, India, — a city of 12 million people — in November and December 2015.

In November and December 2015, record-breaking rainfall devastated Chennai, India’s fifth-largest city, populated by 12 million souls. The Indian government declared the area a disaster zone. Hundreds of lives were lost, thousands of people were stranded, and property loss is nearly incalculable.

The flooding has been called a great equalizer, having devastated the rich and the poor alike. Poverty-stricken people living in low-lying slums and along riverbanks suffered loss of what little property they had. Affluent people also suffered unprecedented and enormous losses – many lost their homes and possessions in entirety.

Two million people were affected before waters began receding from Chennai. Over 400 people died. Sixty-one of them died in the hospital due to lack of medical care and oxygen. The stories that have emerged are all unique but all equally heart-breaking.

Though many Indian Assemblies of God believers, including pastors, are among those affected, none lost their lives. Some AG churches were filled with up to 15 feet of water, resulting in the destruction of church property and possessions. Renovations are still underway.

In the initial days after the flood, every church partnered together, sharing resources and relieving one another’s pressing needs as much as possible. Many believers sheltered flood victims in their homes for weeks.

Pastor David Mohan’s Chennai congregation – New Life Assembly – distributed 1,600 relief packages containing food, clothing, bed sheets, towels, mosquito repellent, and first aid. They supplemented those “basic” packages with stoves and other household utensils for families who were more severely impacted.

Assemblies of God World Missions, the World Assemblies of God Relief Agency (WAGRA), and Convoy of Hope have contributed heavily to the India AG’s relief efforts. Among other efforts, 6,500 relief packages were handed out. A medical team made up of Indian believers who are in the medical profession conducted medical camps in areas inaccessible to outside non-government organizations.

“The Tamil district is grateful to AGWM, WAGRA, and to the many churches, organizations, and volunteers for their prayers and generous support both physically and financially during this difficult time,” says Mohan. “By the abundant mercies and grace of our loving God, we will rise again.”

Kristel Zelaya

Kristel Zelaya is a freelance writer and editor with global experience. She served as marketing manager for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions and as a writer and editor for Assemblies of God World Missions. These experiences have led her to numerous countries and cultures — far from beaten paths — on behalf of many who did not know how deeply their stories matter. Zelaya is also a licensed Assemblies of God minister.