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Workers in Indonesia quake zone seek survivors, request prayer

SUMATRA, Indonesia (BP)–Southern Baptist workers are still facing emergency conditions on the Indonesian island of Nias, hit hard by a March 28 earthquake, according to the wife of one team member. They’re focusing their work in the capital city, Gunung Sitoli.

“They are overwhelmed by the destruction — three- and four-story buildings flattened and, of course, so many people trapped underneath it all,” she said.

Knowing time for finding survivors is short, Southern Baptist workers joined in the search Wednesday searching for anyone alive under the rubble — but personally found no survivors. Though heavy equipment to move large pieces of rubble is available, workers hesitate to use it, fearing the movement of the rubble might crush any survivors still hidden underneath. Southern Baptists also have met with other relief organizations and a government official to make plans for further disaster relief.

“I cannot even imagine the minute-by-minute decisions, frustrations and traumatic things happening. But we know the Father is more than able and more than enough for each situation,” the wife of the worker said.

“We know He also has a plan to reach the people of Nias. And what a privilege to be a part of that plan.”

Her husband and other workers are depending on Southern Baptists to lift them up daily in prayer, she said. “Keep praying for wisdom for them in the choices they must make — where to go, what to do, who to help, how to help. And for physical and emotional strength for them also.”

Earlier in the week, Southern Baptists prayed for the family of a pastor who lost one son and found much of the rest of his family injured after the earthquake. The family needs continued prayer. A surviving son’s leg was crushed when their home collapsed, and the family is trying to transport him to a specialist. Both the pastor’s wife and 9-year-old daughter have regained consciousness. The daughter, however, has not spoken since the earthquake.

Southern Baptist workers, volunteers and local Christians have traveled from other parts of Indonesia to Nias, bringing with them rescue equipment. Other supplies, including gasoline-driven saws and diamond saw blades, were purchased in Jakarta and are being transported by helicopter. Medicine is on its way by ship. A medical team of Baptist disaster relief volunteers from Alabama and Oklahoma planned to leave for Nias April 1; another team was scheduled to follow the next week.

Like Nias’ residents, relief workers are sleeping outside on groundsheets and using buckets of well water for baths. They are looking for a habitable building to rent to house relief workers and volunteers.

For initial earthquake relief work, the state Baptist convention disaster relief network will furnish trained disaster relief volunteers. Qualified volunteers can contact their state Baptist disaster relief offices; contact information is posted at https://www.namb.net/site/pp.asp?c=9qKILUOzEpH&b=238540. More volunteers continue to be needed, meanwhile, where initial urgent tsunami and earthquake needs have been met. Monitor those opportunities at https://going.imb.org/vim/main/default.asp.

    About the Author

  • Manda Roten Gibson