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Southern Baptist tsunami relief gifts, now at $2.7 million, meet physical & spiritual needs

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Children have clean clothes and families have shelter. The sick have medicine and the hungry have food. The thirsty have water — and the hopeless are hearing about Jesus. All because of your gifts.

As of Jan. 12, Southern Baptists had given $2.7 million through the International Mission Board Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief fund. Every penny will be used to ease the suffering of those affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami in Asia.

In Sri Lanka, relief gifts have provided school uniforms for children whose homes and clothes were destroyed. And they’ve given safe drinking water, food and shelter to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others. “Your gifts have gone directly to boys, girls, men, women, grieving families — people who have lost everything,” reported David Garrison, regional leader for board work in South Asia. A video of his report from Sri Lanka is available for viewing or downloading at https://imb.org.

Relief work has opened doors to share the Gospel, and local Christians have distributed more than 300 Bibles provided through board funds. “One of the most important responses we’re making is a spiritual response,” Garrison noted.

Southern Baptists are praying with and for people, providing Bibles and talking about survivors’ spiritual conditions. People are asking questions like, “How can I find my life again?” and “Where is hope?” Workers are sharing with them that Jesus Christ is the only real answer to those questions.

“They serve as a face on the Gospel to hundreds of thousands of people who are in need at this moment,” Garrison said.

In Banda Aceh, Indonesia — one of the hardest-hit areas — Southern Baptists are using relief funds to set up a public kitchen. “One of the big needs in this tsunami-ravaged area is the lack of facilities to prepare food,” said a Southern Baptist working there.

The public kitchen will provide food, drinking water, gas stoves, gas tanks, cooking utensils and eating supplies — allowing people to cook food and boil water for themselves.

As workers in Banda Aceh minister to children, medical personnel are working alongside them to provide whatever medical care the children need.

Additionally, relief funds have provided personal hygiene kits and large amounts of food, water purification tablets and medical supplies that may reach as many as 500,000 families in Indonesia. Medical teams will use five small water purification units to keep their hands and instruments clean.

In Thailand, missionaries Bob and Tong Ju Lee distributed food to the Sea Gypsies, who lost their fishing boats in the tsunami. Relief gifts also helped fund an eye clinic that provided care to many who lost their glasses. In Malaysia, relief funds have provided rice.

Southern Baptist missionaries and volunteers will remain in the affected areas for a long time, using relief gifts to help people rebuild their lives. In Sri Lanka, workers expect to continue providing safe drinking water, food and shelter. Eventually work may focus on helping people build new homes.

“It’s an unprecedented opportunity in this part of the world to reach out in Jesus’ name and share His gift of life and love,” Garrison said.

In Indonesia, Southern Baptists anticipate continuing to host teams of doctors to care for the injured and prevent disease outbreaks. Additionally, people still need food, clean water, shelter and supplies for cooking, personal hygiene and medical needs.

“Pray for all the aid workers there in north Sumatra,” a Southern Baptist there said. “Many have worked long hours and with minimal food, and still there is so much work to do. So much has to be cleared before rebuilding can start.”

Garrison thanks Southern Baptists for their prayers and their gifts through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that allow missionaries to live overseas and share the love of Jesus. “When you give through the [International Mission Board], you give in Jesus’ name,” he said.

And because Southern Baptists are already in place to minister, every cent of relief gifts goes to minister to the needs of those directly affected by the disaster. “It’s an efficient and effective way to meet needs,” Garrison noted.
— David Garrison, International Mission Board regional leader for South Asia, talks from Sri Lanka about how relief gifts are meeting needs after the tsunami in a brief video now available for viewing or downloading.
To view streaming video:
To download the video:
— Southern Baptists and other Christians can help by sending financial gifts for aid through the International Mission Board relief fund. Send gifts designated “Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief” to the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230. Give online at https://imb.org/giving. All funds given will go to relief efforts; none will be used for administrative costs.

    About the Author

  • Manda Roten Gibson