CCC Students Build Homes and Share Faith in Southeast Asia

A total of 91 American college students and staff traveled to Thailand for Spring Break 2005 to help victims recover from the December 26 tsunami. Some 180 Thai students also joined in relief and recovery projects in three areas. More American students will form a relief team departing in May.

Their efforts will not go unappreciated, according to Tony Arnold, a spokesperson for CCC, who said that the Monday earthquake propelled longer-term relief efforts to the front page of news outlets.

“Monday’s quake brought that part of the world back to the front page of our daily papers. It reminded people the ongoing recovery and the devastation that people in that part of the world are living in,” said Arnold.

The 8.7 magnitude quake had people scrambling for higher land to avoid a possible tsunami. Though no tsunami was reported, waves as high as 10 feet damaged some of the villages off the coast of Indonesia.

Joining the 91 American students were 180 Thai students active in Thailand Campus Crusade for Christ. The students divided into teams of twenty, working in three coastal villages and islands.

In the village of Khaolak, where 78 homes were destroyed by the tsunami, survivors are living in a refugee camp. Students there finished three houses and started six others in only one week.

At mid-week, a 7.0 earthquake interrupted the project last week, before Monday's quake. Fearing a tsunami, the American and Thai students dropped their tools and were rushed to higher ground. Locals posted lookouts on the shore to watch receding water, knowing that if a tsunami were to appear, they would have twenty minutes to escape. “Fortunately,” none came, states the press release.

The next morning the American and Thai students returned to their worksites, fearful that all of their tools had been looted. But instead, the local people had safely secured them.

“We were amazed!” said Penn State graduate Ross Shearer. “The Morgan had picked up all the tools and secured them. They were so grateful for our help, they didn’t want anything to happen to our tools.”

Students also helped meet the spiritual needs of the people. Jenny Bailey from UC-Santa Barbara, and Amy Spriggs, from UC-San Luis Obispo, met villagers in the Khaolak refugee camp after a day of bricklaying. Through an interpreter, they shared their faith with one woman, who then “made a decision to trust Jesus,” according to the press release.

“Just then, the man who had taught Bailey and Spriggs how to lay block came in,” said the statement. “The woman was their instructor’s sister-in-law.”

“I had so wanted to share my faith with him,” said Bailey. “But I knew it would have been culturally inappropriate for me to seem to teach him. But now, a member of his family can share with him the same Good News we both have discovered.”

Preparations are underway for the next relief team of American students to travel to Thailand in May to continue the tsunami recovery effort.

Campus Crusade for Christ International is one of the largest interdenominational organizations in the world with 27,000 full-time staff serving in 190 countries. The U.S. Campus Ministry is active on 1100 campuses throughout America.