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Christian Ministries Send Massive Amounts of Aid After Tsunami

January 6, 2005

Christian Ministries Send Massive Amounts of Aid After Tsunami

January 6, 2005

January 6, 2005

Since HCJB World Radio sent out an article on Tuesday, Jan. 4, regarding the Christian relief efforts going out to Asia Pacific region since the Dec. 26, many more reports have arrived. The BBC confirmed that more than 140,000 people are known to have died in the massive wave, and hundreds of thousands more are homeless. Here are some recent updates:

The Salvation Army in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka is supporting a sustained program of reconstruction in the affected areas which is now being undertaken by church members in these countries. Their aim, in addition to relieving immediate distress, is to help enable the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes and livelihood. This includes helping reconstruct people's emotional wellbeing through the provision of spiritual comfort, pastoral support and professional psychological counseling where appropriate. Large sums of money have been pledged from Salvationists around the world towards the cost of this mammoth effort, in addition to generous donations from members of the public who have responded as never before to the Salvation Army's appeals.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) is coming alongside victims, offering $2 million in long-term assistance. CRWRC has been busy responding with emergency food, water, and other supplies to more than 75,000 families in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The agency has also been working with churches and local organizations in these countries to develop a program that will meet the long-term needs of survivors. "Once the emergency aid stops flowing, too many people will be left on their own to rebuild their lives," explains Jacob Kramer, CRWRC International Relief Coordinator. "Our mission is to help these families reseed their fields, restock their farms, and obtain new equipment for occupations like fishing so that they have the ability to thrive on their own."

World Vision has already provided food and relief goods to 12,000 families in India and is providing aid to about 200,000 people in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerela, Pondicherry and the isolated Andaman Islands. In Indonesia, World Vision is delivering food from the World Food Program to more than 4,000 people displaced by the tsunami. The food aid has been transported to the temporary camp at the main mosque in Indrapuri where hundreds of displaced people from Banda Aceh area have sought refuge. The ministry is also distributing tents and family kit items for some 5,000 people within the next two days. Similar non-food relief items for 20,000 more people are expected to arrive in Banda Aceh later this week. A chartered plane is also scheduled to fly in from Jakarta to Banda Aceh with some 1,500 family packages. In Sri Lanka World Vision has distributed cooked food, dry rations, clothing, medicines and water to more than 150,000 people in 706 welfare centers. World Vision is focusing on assisting families as they return home and providing further aid to up to 200,000 families while also assessing long-term needs.

Church World Service (CWS) is providing initial emergency material and monetary assistance valued at about $1 million to help meet needs in the three worst-hit countries and is appealing for $5 million for ongoing relief and recovery. "Additional airlifts are planned to provide much needed commodities for immediate needs and long-term recovery," said CWS Executive Director John McCullough. CWS has provided rapid response teams in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and emergency grants for efforts in Indonesia and India.

World Relief, the relief and development arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, is busy setting the ground work for multi-year presence in the worst hit region of tsunami stricken Southeast Asia. The agency is helping churches and communities in the region bring life-saving assistance to the affected population. World Relief also collaborates with other non-governmental agencies and international organizations to avoid duplicity of efforts and to effectively use whatever networks are already in place. World Relief is preparing a long-term plan for rehabilitation. The agency specializes in establishing long-term programs in the areas of health, education, agriculture, refuge and trade.

Teams from an agency called LEADS have distributed relief to 10 cities in Sri Lanka with food and dry rations reaching approximately 125,000 displaced persons. Martin Imprex from the U.S. has donated through its Dubai dealer 15 tons of clothing material to LEADS. Sixteen Korean doctors have arrived in Sri Lanka to provide medical assistance. A pledge of $10,000 has been received from Food For the Hungry. A six-member medical team from Northwest Medical Teams in the U.s. has who have left for the Batticaloa/Akkaraipattu areas. Pledges have been received from Cedar Fund, Medical Ambassadors, Tear Fund Australia, Baptist World Aid, BMS, World Relief and Eternal Perspective Ministries amounting to $160,180. A team from Tear Fund Australia is sending a team for logistical support of our operations. CNET has joined in the relief process by providing expertise for building of shelters.

The Association of Christian Schools International's (ACSI) Southeast Asia member schools sustained only minor damage in the tsunami. However, several eastern Indonesian schools in East Timor and Papua were "significantly damaged" by earthquakes leading up to the massive quake that triggered the tsunami. ACSI's Indonesian country director, Ishak Wonohadidjojo, EdD, is working closely with Indonesian Christian school colleagues to assess forthcoming needs. ACSI does not provide humanitarian relief services to individuals, but does assist member schools where needed.

An Indonesian relief team supported by Partners International delivered a truckload of supplies (5,000 blankets, medicine, 5 tons of rice, 300 boxes of instant noodles, 700 boxes of bottled water, used clothes, fish and vegetables) along with words of comfort and hope to the traumatized survivors. The team of doctors, nurses, and church workers returned from Banda Aceh, at the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, in shock at the scenes of destruction. With major relief organizations now able to enter the previously closed province of Aceh, Partners International's local partners are seeking to reach people who have not yet received help. For example, one of the worst-hit areas being investigated by the relief team can only be reached by an eight-hour boat trip. In order to develop a relief strategy and coordinate the immediate efforts to reach the neediest in Aceh, two of Partners International's area directors are in Medan, Indonesia, to help convene a meeting of indigenous and foreign Christian relief agencies on Jan. 8-9.

Co-Aid, a consortium of 40 mission agencies involved in relief and development, has announced its own tsunami appeal that will go about 60,000 supporters of the agencies. Eight partner agencies of Co-Aid have already agreed to participate in the appeal: OM, ARMS, Oak Tree Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Mobilization, CAMA, OPAL and Destiny Rescue. Two other partners have their own appeals, and an Australian-linked Indonesian agency has already sent workers into the affected region. Two Co-Aid Board members, David Skeat of ARMS and Hugh Evans of Oak Tree, are in Aceh explore what can be done. The House of Love Foundation in Surabaya also has an exploratory team in Aceh. Geoff Lockyer of OPAL is about to visit Sri Lanka to assess the need for pharmaceutical supplies. Funds will be dispatched as soon as they become available through Co-Aid's World Relief Overseas Aid Fund.

Youth With a Mission (YWAM) is bringing physical and spiritual help to tsunami survivors in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. For example, in areas such as northern Sumatra and Thailand and along the Indian coast, teams are coordinating the entire relief operations for large areas. Team members are also at hospital, setting up a variety of stations for people looking for loved ones and assisting people making long-distance telephone calls to loved ones. Missionaries are also helping with translation and helping identify and bury dead bodies. Teams plan to stay in worst-hit areas on a long-term basis, helping to rebuild and offering help in the name of Jesus.

Global missions and relief agency New Directions International has sent a team led by Dr. J.L. Williams, founder and CEO of the organization, to Southeast Asia to help with the relief efforts. New Directions International has worked in this region for more than two decades, establishing partnerships with nationals to develop leadership and deploy infrastructure projects in the name of Jesus Christ. "What we have seen and experienced has been both heart-rending and heart-warming," Williams said. "We've got to be in this for the long haul. Right now we are saving lives-we need to stay and rebuild lives."

The Open Doors International staff in Southeast Asia is assessing the situation in the tsunami area with the goal of helping enable local churches to reach out to their suffering communities. Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller is examining long-term ways to help in the affected areas as the victims attempt to rebuild their lives in the months and years to come. "Open Doors believes that the best way to help is to strengthen the local church as it ministers to the victims of the tsunami. The recovery period -- both physically and spiritually -- will be lengthy," he said.

The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) is sending its "second wave" of response to the victims with an emphasis on one-on-one contact. "it's through these second-wave response organizations like ourselves that we're able to be involved in ministry contact," said EFCA spokesman Jim Snyder. That includes crisis counseling and low-key evangelism. The EFCA is recruiting skilled volunteers to eventually go and help. "We do have a tremendous opportunity to be able to share our faith along with our actions. Overall, I think this is going to be one of the most significant things we've seen in the past decade."

OMS International's Don Saum says the mission is funneling money and supplies via local churches. "It involves a kit with a tarpaulin with poles, cooking utensils, plates, tumblers, rice, clothing, 15 liters of water and a small stove run by kerosene," he said. "We believe that as Christian love is demonstrated, people will appreciate that. We trust that they'll see the love of Christ there, and for some of them, on their own volition, that they'll have the opportunity of hearing the gospel."

International Aid, a health-focused Christian relief and development organization, is sending $3 million worth of supplies to tsunami victims in Indonesia. Thirty-seven pallets will help 10,000 people with medicine and water purification systems. The shipment is heading to Banda Aceh, a Muslim stronghold and antagonistic to Christians. International Aid hopes this relief, distributed by the local church, will provide open doors to share Christ.

Action India team leader Devendra Rai is coordinating a team from northern India and Cambodia which will serve with India Gospel Outreach's ministries in Tamil Nadu in southern India. He is also investigating the possibility of forming a crisis action response team for Sri Lanka. Action has set an immediate prayer target of $21,000 and is trusting the Lord for $100,000 by the end of March.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Australia is using its already-established network of aid and relief teams to bring immediate assistance to all affected areas of the tsunami disaster. ADRA teams are providing water, food, medical assistance and other much-needed services in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India.

* 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. "We are terribly saddened by the huge disaster in our region," Adams said. "The staff in Australia has put together a special program (repeated several times) expressing our grief, sadness and prayer support for people in the areas. The program also brought a message of hope and tried to answer many of the questions naturally raised by people at a time like this. In addition, we have carried many messages from Australian authorities -- presented in a warm and understanding way, rather than just cold facts."

Sources: Assist News Service, BBC, CRWRC, CWS, Salvation Army, World Vision, World Relief, LEADS, ACSI, Partners International, Co-Aid, New Directions International, YWAM, EFCA, ADRA, Open Doors, Mission Network News