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Workers see answers to prayer in tsunami relief efforts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (BP)–Southern Baptist workers serving in tsunami-ravaged areas in South Asia credit the prayers of faithful Christians for their ability to minister and for the spiritual fruit they are witnessing.

“Volunteer efforts, and indeed all the tsunami-relief team efforts in Sri Lanka, have been undergirded by incredible prayer support from believers all over the world,” said Thad Crisler*, director of Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka. “It is doubtless that without this intervention by God’s people, whatever has been accomplished in Sri Lanka would have been naught.”

The workers count on prayer as they continue to build houses, clean wells, feed the hungry, move into new areas and share the love of Jesus among tsunami survivors. The tsunami wreaked havoc over coastlines in the South Asian countries of Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. The millions of people hurt by the tsunami include Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

“Pray for the strongholds and idols of the enemy to be torn down in the areas we are working,” said Southern Baptist worker Cole Elbridge*, who coordinates disaster relief efforts among tsunami survivors in India.

Volunteers who have come to help in relief efforts have prayed with non-believers on site and returned to the United States and other countries to mobilize even more prayer for tsunami survivors.

“There have been so many other people who have gone before me and have built relationships with the people and who have prayed for these people,” worker Nikki Edenfield* said. “I was just so privileged just to get to be here and be a part of all that -– to see those people coming to Christ, to see hearts soften, to see people get baptized.”

Nearly every Southern Baptist worker serving on a tsunami relief team said they have a great need for prayer for wisdom and discernment.

“Pray for wisdom in deciding which houses to work in, which areas to work in. You need wisdom for knowing who is telling you the truth and who’s not,” worker Alma Navarro* said. “Pray that discipleship for the new believers is done wisely and in such a way that it leads to healthy [spiritual] reproduction.”

Elbridge added: “Pray also for new believers in India, for their maturity and faithfulness to share their new testimony for Christ with others. Pray for the house churches … and for the church-planting movement we are hoping to see started.”

Christians also need to continue to pray for the young fellowships in Sri Lanka, Crisler said.

“They still have a lot of growth to undergo and leadership still needs to be developed,” he said. “Further, we are asking the Father that from these groups He will send out messengers to the rest of Sri Lanka and even beyond.”

Southern Baptist workers also would like to see the relief teams grow and multiply, because tsunami survivors still need help. Even a year after the tsunami, some are living in tents and many still lack jobs.

“I pray that God will touch hearts and send us some long-term folks, volunteers or career, to help us be good stewards of what our people at home gave so generously, that we would have the manpower here to use it wisely,” worker Red Hillyer* said.

Foremost, the workers pray for those who have not yet called upon Jesus, who have never heard that Jesus loves them, that he died for them and that He lives and wants a relationship with them.

“My main prayer request is that we’ll open doors to win people to Christ,” Hillyer said. “That is absolutely my top priority.”
*Names changed for security reasons. Goldie Frances is a missionary writer serving in the South Asia region.

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  • Goldie Frances*