KOH PHI PHI, Thailand (BP)--The damage to the once-gorgeous island of Koh Phi Phi is immediately evident when one steps onto the pier after taking a 75-minute ferry ride from Krabi, Thailand, some 25 miles to the north.
Residents of the small island just south of Krabi, Thailand, were visited by four Oklahoma disaster relief volunteers on Feb. 8 who helped members of Krabi Baptist Church deliver 40 small sacks of rice, cooking oil, fish sauce, tomato sauce, fruit juice, fresh garlic, onions and cashew nuts capable of feeding about a fifth of the island’s families for a few days.
One week later, the entire nine-man Oklahoma team helped deliver 240 shrimp nets to 24 families, a gift from Oklahoma Baptists that not only will help feed those families indefinitely but also help them earn a living. The nets, which cost about $10 each, were the first of many which will be presented to the islanders in the days ahead, thanks to a $25,000 gift wired to the Krabi church by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s disaster relief office and provided by Oklahoma Baptists following the Dec. 26 tsunami that devastated southern Asia.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (BP)--“My heart is deeply moved by your compassion for my people,” a community leader in the Aceh province of Indonesia told a group of doctors and nurses serving as Baptist volunteers to this tsunami-stricken region of Asia. The group of eight doctors and nurses, sponsored by Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., was composed of Olive members and others from local churches. Organized with only three weeks of preparation time, we traveled to this Muslim region in mid-January and had 12 days of fruitful ministry.
JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--As the team of relief workers arrived in the Indonesian village, they noticed villagers digging a hole.
By Feb. 17, total contributions received from Southern Baptist churches and individuals for tsunami aid had surpassed $10,209,000 -- an unprecedented outpouring of compassion over such a short period, according to IMB finance officials.
So far, about $2.5 million has been disbursed for nearly 50 aid projects across South and Southeast Asia, ranging from food and water distribution, medical care, temporary shelter and sanitation to providing fishing nets and reconstruction materials for villagers struggling to rebuild their lives and communities.
Many more projects will be funded in the months to come, said Jim Brown, the mission board’s specialist for world hunger and relief ministries. They will support ongoing relief as well as longer-term efforts to help ravaged communities recover and rebuild. Every penny given will go to tsunami-related ministry.
Among their experiences:
-- Living in a home with mud ankle-deep, sleeping on a bed just high enough to escape the water, a father and son didn't know what to do. Despair and hopelessness were written on their faces. How could they put their lives back together when the father was too old -- and the son too young -- to get all the mud and destroyed belongings out of the house?
A group of volunteers arrived and began to work with the father’s permission. They took everything out of the house, saving what they could, then started shoveling mud amid the heat and foul smell. Some time later, one of the floors became visible. The looks on the faces of the man and his son began to change.
An Indonesian child who survived the Dec. 26 earthquake and subsequent tsunami occupies part of her day playing in water in a resettlement area. Photo by Matthew Miller
The shape of the object, he said, made him think of a devastated nation on the other side of the world. “I thought, ‘There’s another body bag.’ Then I realized I was in Texas, not in Indonesia.”
Thousands of body bags lined the roads in the Asian nation’s Aceh province when Miller arrived there Jan. 11. A Baptist Press photographer and director of photography for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Miller documented the overwhelming tsunami tragedy and the humanitarian efforts of Southern Baptist disaster relief teams from Oklahoma and Georgia.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami are finding hope for the future because Christians are ministering to them in their distress -– ministry that will open the door to revival that so many believers have sought for so long, a minister who has returned from the region reports.
Steve Nelson, director of pastoral care for Tennessee's Bledsoe Baptist Association, recently returned from 10 days in southern India where he helped a disaster relief team from Hindustan Bible Institute in one of the hundreds of tsunami-ravaged fishing villages along the coast.
|Death & life
In a land where body bags continue to be an everyday sight, the many needs of tsunami victims in Indonesia are a key focus of Southern Baptist volunteers.
Disaster relief director Sam Porter of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma led a team of a dozen volunteers with medical experience to this once-beautiful tip of land that juts out into the Indian Ocean. Once a tropical paradise, Banda Aceh’s post-tsunami landscape resembles an area left behind after a scorched-earth military campaign. The monsoon rains which are now falling may soon help clear the landscape of debris, but the tears of the Indonesian people will take months -- perhaps years, perhaps forever -- to help wash away the pain in their broken hearts.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (BP)--From the comfortable cab of an air-conditioned SUV, it was hard not to feel as if the scene I was seeing outside the window was simply images from a movie.