Brent Hample of India Partners describes what happened. "The fire started when anti-Christians set fire to a thatched church in a village there. A lot of the people in the village were working in the rice fields. The fire spread and burned down 75 homes."
According to Hample, "About one-third of the families are Christians. The other two-thirds are not. The fire affected Christians and non-Christians. We don't think that the arsonists who started the fire meant to burn down the homes, but they sure did mean to burn down the church."
Hample believes he knows why the fire was started. "The church was growing in this village. They had already started a home church. And now they had built this larger thatched church. Really, it's the darkness in the hearts of the people against the Gospel who started this."
God did protect. No one was injured in the blaze, even though a severely disabled teen was still in one of the homes. Hample says he rolled out of bed onto the floor "and crawled into a big wooden box. The fire burned his house down and two adjacent houses, but the fire never touched this wooden box. They found him in the wooden box. And the village believes it was a great miracle how the Lord saved the disabled boy from the fire."
While there were no fatalities in the fire, families lost everything. India Partners wants to help with food, blankets, clothing, medicine, and more, says Hample. "Seven bicycles were burned. Children use those to go to school. Without the bicycles, they won't be able to get to school. Another family had a sewing machine used to support the family."
India Partners would also like to help rebuild the homes of these believers and non-believers. "A home can go anywhere from $150 to $500 for a really nice thatched house."
Hample has some suggestions on how churches or individuals can help. "They could take up an special offering. Or a family could just say, 'We're going to help another family to have a home this summer, because we have our home.'"
Hample says, "It is a great testimony of the love of Christ for these people in their time of need. This would help both the Christian families as well as the non-Christians. It's also a way to reach out in a very tangible way to those who don't know Jesus."