Indonesia Church-Led Network Formed to Aid Tsunami Victims

Although the Christians are a minority throughout Indonesia, and particularly in the nation’s tsunami-devastated Aceh province, a coalition of church networks representing 25,000 of 38,000 churches in the predominantly Muslim nation has formed to respond to last week’s quake-tsunami disaster. The national church-led network, based in Medan, is planning to establish five sites to help coordinate and direct distribution efforts.

Indonesia, whose death toll is said to have surpassed 100,000, suffered the most death and destruction following the Dec. 26 quake-tsunami that devastated nations bordering the Indian Ocean and has left over 150,000 dead so far.

Although relief supplies are arriving in Banda Aceh and other affected sites, there is reportedly a lack of distribution channels for these commodities, as reported by World Relief, the relief and development arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

After meeting in Medan with area churches to determine its course of action, World Relief reported that the initial plan of the coalition, entitled Medan Care, is to establish five bases at different geographical locations to accommodate and coordinate forty volunteers who will rotate through on a 10 to 12 day basis.

“From initial meetings, a high interest among Indonesian Christians in responding to the disaster was evident,” the agency reported.

So far, an office has been set-up in Banda Aceh and an initial team of 40 volunteers is en route. Each site will also have permanent administrative staff to coordinate and direct these distribution efforts. A central office to train, deploy and later debrief volunteers will be established in Medan.

“When the church is responding in sensitive Islamic areas, World Relief wants to ensure that they do so with the highest level of integrity in relief and development,” the agency stated. World Relief reported that areas of relief that are being reported as in high need are health, water/sanitization, body collection/burial, and food. The agency is already planning ahead to the rehabilitation phase and has identified shelter and livelihood reestablishment as likely sectors of involvement.

Since 1944, World Relief has served to alleviate human suffering, hunger and poverty worldwide, working in more than 20 countries in relief and development through micro finance, disaster response, refugee resettlement, food security, child development, maternal and child health and HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The National Association of Evangelicals, which formed World Relief to aid victims of World War II, is an organization representing 45,000 churches, 51 denominations and a constituency of 30 million Americans.