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Indonesians responsive to quake relief

WEST SUMATRA, Indonesia (BP)–“And so, this is what He is up to on our island … taking a tragedy and opening up a door for seeds to be planted,” a Christian worker in Indonesia wrote following the magnitude 7.6 earthquake on Sept. 30.

The worker, along with a team of 23 national believers and U.S. volunteers, took supplies to a remote village of nearly 3,500 people in Western Sumatra. The team held medical clinics and distributed tents, blankets, food and water.

The eight-person U.S. team was led by Doug and Jenny Anderson*, members of TrueNorth Church in North Augusta, S.C., and encompassed partnerships with churches in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia as well as the Christian Medical and Dental Association. The team originally had planned to hold medical clinics in another area. However, when the earthquake hit two days before they left the United States, they were asked to work in the earthquake region instead.

“We had talked about that possibility at our last team meeting,” Doug Anderson said, “so it was an easy decision to make the change.”

Getting supplies for the trip with two days’ notice could have been tricky, since they usually purchase supplies once on site.

But through some previously scheduled meetings and a few phone calls, the team received 19 bags of donated supplies for the trip. Then the airline waived the fees associated with extra baggage.

When they arrived in Indonesia, the volunteers were surprised by the friendly reception from villagers. Community leaders opened the mosque for their use. By day, a green curtain separated the back area where the team held its clinics from the area reserved for prayer. By night, the women slept on the terrace of the mosque while the men slept in tents in the courtyard.

Although the village had been a difficult area for Christian workers, the team was amazed by the openness of the people.

Villagers repeatedly voiced their gratitude, and a village leader noted this was the first team to provide substantial help since the earthquake.

“It was obvious that they were hurting and wanting to talk about what they had experienced,” the Christian worker in Indonesia wrote.

As a result, while the doctors and nurses met medical needs, others in the group worked with the children, singing songs, providing basic hygiene information and giving them a chance to draw pictures about their experiences.

Team members also had the opportunity to pray with each person who visited the clinic.

“An amazing thing happened with a number of patients,” Jenny Anderson said. “They actually joined in by voicing their own prayers along with us.”

Then at a closing ceremony held in the team’s honor, the leader of the mosque directed those present to “pray according to your own culture,” she recounted.

“I never imagined sitting in a mosque with both Christians and Muslims praying together.”

This openness has paved the way for future teams to continue the work begun by the volunteers. A group of national believers, who came in after the U.S. volunteers left, hopes to continue building relationships and meeting needs in the name of Jesus.

“Since I have been hearing about this people group for a few years now, I am so thankful for the chance to walk among them,” the Christian worker wrote. “Their faces are etched on our hearts…. We can now lift up their actual names to the throne!”
*Names changed. Reported by Baptist Press international staff.

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