BIC traveler reports effects of flooding still felt in Bihar, India

GRANTHAM, Pa. (Nov. 24, 2008)
—In the wake of the terrible flooding that pummeled Bihar, India in August, Harvey Sider, who served there for 12 years as a missionary with BIC World Missions, returned again to the country earlier this month.

The flooding occurred after an intentional breach in a barrage on the Nepalese side of the border got out of control and sent a rush of water into the Kosi River area. In some places, waters spanned across 50 miles of normally dry land. And though there is no official accounting of deaths, the number is widely assumed to be between 100,000 and 200,000. According to Harvey, the devastation caused by the waters remains evident, despite the passage of three months:

Halfway between the mission stations at Madhipura and Banmankhi, both the rail line and road were destroyed. This will be a massive undertaking to repair. Other smaller and shallower breaches have been repaired sufficiently to let traffic crawl through to Murligang on the east. At times, only half of the paved road remained so that we could look down and see the entire road bed washed out just a couple feet away. (I had to wonder how long that would last before vehicular traffic caused a collapse.) Obviously, buildings were destroyed.

In the midst of the destruction, Harvey reports that many church members and non-church members alike have received assistance from BIC-affiliate Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which worked on the ground though its India-based counterpart, Mennonite Christian Service Fellowship of India (MCSFI). In addition, both the government and other non-governmental organizations like MCC have worked at the massive relief work.

“I was privileged and shocked to see the after-effects of this massive destruction that occurred in the heart of BIC territory,” Harvey, who now attends Heise Hill BIC Church (Gormley, ON) relates. And the work isn’t done yet. As the BIC Church in India continues to recover, denominational leaders encourage BIC churches in North America to pray for the Church in India, as well as for all the victims of the flooding.