Indonesia: Missionaries Help Tsunami Survivors in Worst-Hit Country

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

January 7, 2004 (Christian Aid) -- Following the disaster of December 26, native missionaries of Indonesia have been helping survivors on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, the single region with the most casualties.

Located near the epicenter of the earthquake that caused the tsunami, the northern province of Aceh was devastated by tidal waves. So many thousands were washed out to sea that the total number of deaths may never be known.

Since nearly 100 percent of Aceh residents are strict Muslims, Christian missionaries have not been welcome in northern Sumatra for years. But attitudes have changed since native missionaries began arriving with food and drinking water. One ministry in Jakarta chartered a plane to fly in a team of physicians with emergency medicines and medical supplies.

Some ministries, instead of traveling to the province, are reaching the refugees flocking to cities located further south on the island. Thousands are fleeing devastated coastal areas in search of food, clothing and shelter. Most have gone south to the city of Medan and smaller towns in central Sumatra. Several Christian ministries in these cities are giving refugees basic necessities such as rice, clothing, blankets and shelter. Missionaries also minister to refugees spiritually through Christian counseling and the provision of Bibles.

One ministry has begun delivering aid to the island of Nias, which was hit hard by tsunami waves but has received very little outside attention since. Missionaries have been corresponding with survivors on the island and report that there are many Christians in need of assistance. Nias has a shortage of food and medical care since most relief supplies are being focused on Aceh by government and international aid agencies. With no commercial airlines flying into Nias, native gospel workers plan to make the trip from Medan on Sumatra to Nias in 15 hours by bus, truck and ferry.

Over time, native missionaries intend to help victims on both Sumatra and Nias with long-term rebuilding projects.

Native missionaries request prayer as they assist survivors of the tsunami in the name of the Lord.

Christian Aid is receiving emergency contributions for these ministries by telephone at 1-800-977-5650 or online at Checks designated for Disaster Victims should be mailed to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906.