This July, monsoon rains pounded Pakistan and created an unprecedented crisis in the country, submerging one-fifth of its landmass under water, killing more than 2,000 people, and leaving 20 million injured or homeless and facing the threat of starvation and disease.
Among the hundreds of faith-based, secular, and government relief groups that responded, one evangelical organization not usually recognized for emergency relief took quick action at the local and global level.
Youth With a Mission (YWAM) is known more for its volunteer short-term missions trips and student discipleship than for humanitarian work. But in Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province, students enrolled in YWAM's Discipleship Training School and staff nationwide mobilized immediately. Within two months, 10 short-term YWAM response teams were on the ground in Pakistan, distributing medicine and clothing and taking food packets by donkey to remote villages where other relief groups had few connections.
After the flooding, Lis Cochrane, a former YWAM field leader for South Central Asia, worked her contacts in the United States. She convinced youth groups, college students, and business owners to contribute funds for 100,000 water filters, as requested by desperate Pakistani government officials.
"We're bringing a message that God loves them and we want to help them," says the 48-year-old Swiss-American, who in 1985 was jailed in Nepal for preaching while on assignment with YWAM.
YWAM, launched half a century ago by Loren Cunningham in his parents' garage, is active in 180 nations, making it one of the world's most widely dispersed evangelical missions groups. YWAMers, as members call themselves, undertake an enormous ...