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Christian Ministries Keep Sending Aid to Tsunami Victims

January 12, 2005

Christian Ministries Keep Sending Aid to Tsunami Victims

January 12, 2005

January 12, 2005

HCJB World Radio continues to receive reports from Christian ministries helping in the relief efforts following the devastating tsunami that hit the Asia Pacific region Sunday, Dec. 26. Press reports estimate that more than 150,000 people died in the disaster, and hundreds of thousands more are homeless. Here are some recent updates to complement the tsunami reports sent last week:

Operation Blessing International (OBI), one of the first relief groups on the ground after the disaster struck, has been providing emergency aid and critical medical care in a city of Indonesia; Phuket, Thailand; Andhra Pradesh, India; and hard-hit areas of Sri Lanka. Operation Blessing medical teams are on location providing emergency medical care. "Even basic medical supplies to treat cuts and abrasions aren't available in areas destroyed by the tsunami," said OBI President Bill Horan. "If left untreated, even small cuts can lead to serious infection. We are bringing $4.2 million worth of antibiotics to Sri Lanka. Our medical doctors and nurses are working night and day in the field -- there is an unprecedented need." Entertainer John Tesh along with his wife, Connie Sellecca, and their two children, are traveling with OBI to encourage tsunami survivors.

Jubilee Action, a British-based Christian human rights charity, will be sending its aid via India's Samaritan's Helps ministry. Danny Smith, Jubilee's executive director, said there are many desperate families on India's mainland and on the remote Andaman Islands who have yet to receive help. Dr. Wai Sin Hu of Samaritan's Helps said, "People who are far from the main roads are unable to receive food. We have worked in the area for years and know exactly where there are families who have lost everything. These are the people in greatest need and we can help them with your support. . . . People are in desperate shock. Some have experienced such tragedy that all they want to do is to talk to someone. Thankfully, our network is able to offer immediate counseling together with practical help."

Dr. Joseph Chavady of the Canadian-based One to One International Ministries said that 21 of his relief workers led by a Pastor Dominic reached a town in India a few days ago called Nagapatanam. The town is in the center of the devastated area and can only be accessed by trekking 14 miles on foot. The relief workers provided some survival basics including food, clothing, kerosene stove, pans and sleeping bags to 33 families. "Or what is left of families," Chavady added. "There are no other relief workers in the area because it is so cut off, and people have been surviving on very little food."

Bible Society NSW has launched an appeal for tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. "When the tragedy broke, we contacted all the Bible Society offices in the affected areas," said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Willis. "Thankfully they are all accounted for and their staff and offices are safe," he said. "We then asked each office what we could do to help. It was important that they told us what their local needs were -- rather than our telling them what we were planning to do. We had a wonderful response from the Bible Society in Sri Lanka. Lakshani Fernando, general secretary of the Ceylon Bible Society, asked us to help them replace thousands of Bibles lost in the tsunami." Willis added, "Amazingly, some months ago, our national Scriptures division had already planned to print Bibles in the Contemporary English Version using an Indian printing facility. It will be very easy for us to ask the printing company to send as many Bibles as needed directly to Sri Lanka. In addition to asking donors to support our appeal, we are also encouraging them to support the other non-profit organizations that are doing such a tremendous job in raising funds for humanitarian relief."

Dr. Robert T. Evans, president of BCM International, said the ministry has set up a Tsunami Relief Fund to receive donations through the mission's International Ministry Center. The tsunamis have greatly impacted the lives of many of BCM's national missionaries and pastors in the churches and villages in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. The goal is to raise $50,000 to help missionaries with specific projects in these three areas. Rev. Susiri Liyanage, BCM's Director for Sri Lanka, said a home for mentally disabled children lost six children, washed away in the sea. In Sri Lanka BCM's staff needs financial assistance to purchase building materials such as bricks, cement and sand to reconstruct the houses of those who lost everything. Area pastors need gasoline so they can travel to minister to the people in remote communities. The next big task will be to assist people with rehabilitation and resettlement. A major issue will be to provide spiritual, emotional and psychological help to the traumatized survivors.

Rev. Doddy Prasadja, Director of BCM Indonesia, is coordinating efforts to help the people on an island off the coast of northern Sumatra. Along with food and medicines, funds are needed to cover travel costs to transport local Christian doctors to help the victims, many of whom are Christians. In India, one of BCM's missionary families in Chennai lost most of their possessions, but are safe in a shelter. Seeli Devadasan, Director of Children's Ministries for BCM India, said that about 100 people were being fed and cared for. BCM's staff are ministering to those in need throughout the state of Tamil Nadu.

While aid supplies from World Relief are arriving in Indonesia, and other affected sites, there is reportedly a lack of distribution channels for these commodities. The initial plan of the coalition, entitled Medan Care, is to establish five bases at different geographical locations to accommodate and coordinate forty volunteers who will rotate through on a 10- to 12-day basis. An office has been set-up in Indonesia and an initial team of 40 volunteers are en route. Each site will also have permanent administrative staff to coordinate and direct these distribution efforts. A central office to train, deploy and later debrief volunteers will be established in Medan. Areas reportedly in highest need are health, water/sanitization, food and body collection/burial. World Relief is planning ahead to the rehabilitation phase and has identified shelter and livelihood reestablishment as likely sectors of involvement.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is encouraging its supporters to be generous in giving to the work of its partners and contacts in helping the tsunami victims in South East Asia. One of the worst-hit countries is Sri Lanka, and CSW's partners there, the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL), issued an appeal for help in the current crisis. An NCEASL representative wrote: "On Dec. 27, the day after the disaster, we sent out four consignments of essential food and water to Batticaloa, Mulaitivu, Galle and Jaffna. Another load was sent to Batticaloa. We are packing more as I write. We have also sent out one medical team of volunteer doctors, and assembling another group today. . . . We are overwhelmed by this disaster and the huge need. . . . Any help that you can send us is very much needed and appreciated. Please pray for our staff also, working round the clock, some without sleep." CSW's partners in India, the All India Christian Council, has asked supporters to give to Operation Mobilization which is providing emergency relief in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Tsunami Relief Project aims to give emergency medical care, medication, blankets, food and cooking equipment as well as provide emotional counseling. In Indonesia, CSW's contacts are helping with relief efforts in the worst-hit areas.

Bob Bland of Teen Missions International said the ministry has an office in a radical Muslim stronghold. the ministry is distributing to aid that relief agencies have missed. Teen Missions is raising money for shelters and for rebuilding efforts. "We've set up a team to go there is summer -- a work team to rebuild a church," Bland said. "We're trying to help raise the finances because at this point there is no church, it's gone."

Wycliffe Associates, a ministry that supports Bible translation, announced the approval of $200,000 from its Missionary 911 Fund to respond to the devastation caused by the tsunamis in South Asia. "It's imperative that we respond with prayer and support to those affected by this awful tragedy," said Bruce Smith, president and chief executive officer of Wycliffe Associates. "Assessing the damage done to Bible translation facilities and programs will take several weeks, possibly months," he stated, "but, as needs arise for the Bible translators working in the area, we are poised to help." Hundreds of people groups who speak languages in which Scripture is not yet translated live within the wake of the destructive tsunamis. Bible translators who work in the area, many of them Western missionaries who are trained linguists, have all been accounted for but are still assessing physical damage to property and facilities. Bible translations in progress, as well as new translation starts are expected to be impacted during the recovery from this disaster.

Church World Service is seeking the help of partner denominations to supply of "Gift of the Heart" school kits. These are needed for rehabilitation efforts and will be used first in temporary schools that are likely to be housed in tents and later in permanent structures. American Baptists are being urged to respond. A school kit includes: a pair of blunt scissors, pads or notebooks of ruled paper, a ruler, pencils and a pencil sharpener, construction paper, a box of 24 crayons and one cloth bag with cloth handles and a closure. "Each day brings us closer to understanding the short-term and long-term needs of the survivors of the tsunami," said American Baptist Churches USA World Relief Officer Lisa Rothenberger. "The rebuilding of schools, complemented by the distribution of these 'Gift of the Heart' school kits, will enable survivors to begin to educate the children once again."

Christ Church Bangkok already has been able to assist a number of people impacted by the tsunami, obtaining and distributing immediately required goods, personal counseling and assistance to survivors, and by distributing funds already contributed. Immediately after the tsunami, Christ Church staff members responded by helping with administration of relief programs and by giving one-on-one time with victims of the disaster who were injured by the waves and evacuated to hospitals in Bangkok. Christ Church Bangkok is serving as a collection and sorting center for donated and specially purchased clothing and personal needs. It is also a communication center to inform and educate those who want to contribute.

A formal Christ Church Bangkok Tsunami Response Team has been put in place to organize, coordinate and implement relief efforts to devastated Thai communities in the impacted areas of southwestern Thailand. Many of the victims are foreign tourists, but the local Thai residents have also suffered ruin, injury and loss of life. In cooperation with local Thai authorities, churches and international Christian organizations, the team is setting a systematic plan to assist rebuilding and restoration of less-visible villages in the affected coastal territory. The goal is to raise $500,000 to provide for approximately 300 homes and supply equipment such as fishing boats, nets and gear.

International relief organization Samaritan's Purse has committed $4 million to provide initial and long-term relief to victims of the South Asia tsunami. Teams of doctors and veteran relief workers are continuing to provide clean water, food, emergency shelter and medicine in Sri Lanka and Indonesia to help survivors avoid deadly epidemics in the aftermath of the disaster. Additional teams are assessing the situation for more long-term efforts. The ministry has sent 2 million PUR packets to Sri Lanka and Indonesia to purify 10 liters of water each as well as 14 water purification systems, household items, 2 million servings of food, rolls of plastic for temporary shelter for 7,000 families, and medical kits to treat 10,000 people for three months. Franklin Graham plans to visit the region this week to visit with local victims and oversee the organization's efforts. "This may be the worst natural disaster of our lifetimes," Graham said. "As Christians, our hearts are broken, and we want to do all we can to help and comfort the people who are suffering and grieving."

Kevin Turner of Strategic World Impact says the ministry has provided money to Muslims who collected food and other supplies for the victims, but didn't have the cash to deliver it. He said the gift was provided with a message. "My colleague told this man, 'Christians love you.' He looked with tears running down his face and said, 'I didn't know this about America. I didn't know Christians loved us.' And, right there we were able to share the gospel with him."

* HCJB World Radio has set up a Disaster Relief Fund and is working in partnership with GFA and others to minister to disaster victims. Dennis Adams, director of the Asia Pacific region, said the shortwave station operated by HCJB World Radio-Australia is sending out special programming to encourage victims. Local partners in Indonesia are also applying to begin Christian radio stations.

Sources: Operation Blessing International, Jubilee Action, Bible Society NSW, BCM International, World Relief, CSW, Wycliffe Associates, American Baptist News Service, Christ Church Bangkok, Samaritan's Purse