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Indonesia tsunami draws BGR ‘outpouring’

TANJUNG LESUNG, Indonesia (BP) — A tsunami that killed at least 430 people in Indonesia the weekend before Christmas is being met with an “outpouring” of God’s love, Baptist Global Response (BGR) executive director Jeff Palmer says.

The 10-foot tsunami in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait — between the islands of Java and Sumatra — was triggered Dec. 22 by an eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano and an ensuing landslide. In addition to the deaths, nearly 150 people remain missing and more than 1,400 were injured, according to media reports. Tens of thousands have been displaced.

The tsunami took many Indonesians by surprise — including attendees of a beachfront concert in Tanjung Lesung — because the nation’s tsunami-detection system allegedly has been out of order since 2012, according to media reports.

BGR, a Baptist relief and development organization, has made an initial allocation of $5,000 for relief efforts in Indonesia. The funds will be administered by local churches and believers trained in disaster relief, Palmer told Baptist Press. At least some of those funds are being used on food and water for survivors.

“Because we’re able to respond with local church partners, there is an outpouring, an out-showing of the love of God for those in need,” Palmer said. “Anybody that knows the Indonesian believers knows they have a heart to reach their own people. They will help them in need, but they will also do everything that they can to make Christ known.”

The need for additional BGR response to the tsunami is being assessed, Palmer said, noting “the Indonesian government has a great emergency response unit.”

Regardless of whether BGR responds additionally to this disaster, Palmer said, future response in Indonesia is likely because Anak Krakatau is “active” and “spewing.”

“My suspicion is that it’s going to be a lot worse,” Palmer said. “Eventually, we’re going to have a [major] eruption.”

The Indonesian government raised the volcano’s alert level today (Dec. 27) to its second highest rank. Thousands are being evacuated from the area and flights rerouted, according to media reports.

The Krakatoa volcanic formation, comprising multiple islands including Anak Krakatau, is among the world’s most active and dangerous volcanoes.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation. Its 260 million people are 87 percent Muslim, 7 percent Protestant and 3 percent Roman Catholic, according to data from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Earlier this year, an earthquake and tsunami killed at least 2,000 people on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, a disaster that also drew BGR response.

BGR is not an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, but it does promote and endorse the SBC’s Cooperative Program. BGR’s partnership with Southern Baptists in meeting global human needs is fundamentally undergirded by those who give through their local churches to the Cooperative Program and to the Southern Baptist Global Hunger Relief fund.