Two full months have passed since the deadly tsunamis struck South Asian shores, but the needs remain as great as ever. In light of these ongoing needs, the National Council of Churches prepared a set of guidelines to help U.S. churches that wish to get involved with long term relief gain the direction they need for effective support.
According to the NCC, the recently released document, Listening to, Learning from and Living into Asias Pain, was prepared in consultation with ecumenical leaders in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and was prepared in consultation with the Rev. Shanta Premawardhana, the National Council of Churches' Director of Interfaith Relations.
This rebuilding is going to take years. Now that the television cameras have moved away from the devastated areas, our attention will turn to other things, although long-range need will continue. Building relationships through religious institutions seems to be one of the best ways to maintain a continuing commitment to rebuilding, explained Premawardhana in the introduction to the guidelines.
The document presents practical ways for churches to get involved through ministry, house building projects, micro-credit scheme and several small scale projects.
The statement also warns Christian groups about the dangers of evangelism in predominantly non-Christian regions.
"The work of those who don't know the difference between aid and evangelism has caused serious problems," said Premawardhana, who explained that local Christian communities could face threats if "evangelistic mission agencies ... engage in aggressive and inappropriate evangelism."
"While evangelism is important and necessary, it is best left to local Christians," said Premawardhana.
The full guideline can be downloaded at: