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Indonesian tsunami victims give back, send money for Katrina victims to La. convention


ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Louisiana Baptist Convention officials opened an envelope filled with $854 cash. Receiving cash in an envelope is not that uncommon for non-profit ministries such as the LBC. However, this money was extraordinary and downright miraculous.

The cash was an offering from several citizens who live in a community on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, a region decimated by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that claimed an estimated 300,000 lives worldwide. Twenty men from this area of the world, where the average monthly income is around $100, reached deep in their shallow but generous pockets to send aid to Louisiana, which they heard was hit by Hurricane Katrina.

During the tsunami disaster, these 20 men experienced first-hand not only the tragedy of the natural disaster but also the help of Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers from several state conventions. Teams from Louisiana traveled to the tsunami-stricken area to help with the recovery and relief work. The Indonesian men remembered how these particular Americans helped them, cared compassionately for them and loved them unconditionally.

The Indonesians gave the offering to a Southern Baptist humanitarian consultant who was in Sumatra recently to assess the progress of current relief efforts.

“Some of the greatest joys in ministry occur when God surprises you,” the consultant, whose name cannot be used for security reasons, said. “My trip to Indonesia was no different as I was blessed beyond measure especially because God had this special surprise for me.”

Thanks to ever-increasing global news and information, the news about Katrina and the extensive damage it caused in New Orleans reached Indonesia. Many Indonesians were impacted by the ministry efforts of stateside Southern Baptist volunteers, including those from Louisiana. Many Indonesians themselves wanted to do something to help Americas in the midst of their tragedy.

“This is huge! Why would they even care?” the consultant said. He said the Indonesians told him, “It is because we were so moved and touched by the volunteers who helped us and now we are compelled to give.”

The Indonesians received a freewill offering, had it converted to American currency, placed it in an envelope and presented it to the consultant. They asked that their gift be specifically delivered to the people in Louisiana. They wanted their gift to be an expression of gratitude from Indonesian tsunami victims to those impacted by the storms that hit the Louisiana coast.

“Even though these men have Muslim origins, much of their perception of Westerners (i.e. Christians) has changed 180 degrees,” the consultant explained. “This event is just one example of the impenetrable walls being broken down by those who help others in the name of the Lord.”

Physical changes are happening all over the tsunami-damaged areas of Indonesia but, as evidenced by this gift for victims of Hurricane Katrina, significant spiritual changes are also taking place.

The consultant presented the envelope to Louisiana Baptist Convention disaster relief strategist Gibbie McMillan at the national roundtable of disaster relief organizations meeting at Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, in April.

“This gift is amazing,” McMillan said. “Just think, people on the other side of the world felt led to make a contribution to our disaster relief work here in Louisiana. Southern Baptists were used of God to make an impact for the cause of Christ in the tsunami-stricken area. Where once only the teachings of Islam could be heard in Indonesia, now there is the opportunity to share Christ. We are so grateful for this gift and we are honored to serve the Lord by helping those who are hurting whether they are in St. Tammany Parish or Sumatra.”

According to Mike Canady, director of the LBC missions and ministry team, the gift from Sumatra will be placed in the general disaster relief fund. A portion of those funds will be used for Project NOAH, a joint project with the North American Mission Board and the Louisiana Baptist Convention with a goal to rebuild 1,000 homes and 20 churches.
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    About the Author

  • John L. Yeats