U.S. Christian Groups Help Quake Victims Through Overseas Allies

Dozens of countries have sent in food aid, helicopters, doctors, relief equipment, medicines and tents to the earthquake-ravaged communities in Pakistan. U.S.-based Christian denominations and ecumenical groups are also doing their part, pledging financial assistance, sending disaster relief teams, and channeling funds to Christian groups already operating on-scene.

According to latest news reports, officials estimate 35,000 to 40,000 people had died in Pakistan’s worst recorded temblor, though the official death toll was about 23,000 people. Tens of thousands more were reported injured, and millions in need of shelter and food.

By Wednesday, aid from 30 countries poured into Pakistan and was being transferred to devastated cities that were once inaccessible by road.

"Relief material is moving in," Jan Vandemoortele, U.N. Resident Coordinator for Pakistan, told the Associated Press in Islamabad. "It is getting there. Roads are open now. They were blocked until very recently. We have several trucks that are all loaded and on the road now."

Christian groups that have offices nearby began relief operations almost immediately. According to Dennis Joseph, an associate director for the Church World Service chapter in Pakistan, contributions from U.S.-based church groups were made on the morning the quake hit.

Among those church groups were the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Through their respective disaster relief arms, the denominations gave grants to CWS, which provided emergency food to 1,600 families on Oct. 9. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. alone channeled $60,000 to the CWS Pakistan chapter to provide emergency shelter kits.

According to the Rev. Paul Dirdak, top staff executive of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, “this disaster is as massive or even more massive than people are aware of.” The efforts of CWS “represent a very tiny fraction of the need.”

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is also working with the International Blue Crescent, which said it urgently needs medicine, food, water and blankets. The organization plans to distribute 50,000 blankets and supply meal packages to as many as 3,000 survivors, according to the United Methodist News Service.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based and international Baptist organizations reported that they are working through the Hungarian Baptist Aid to provide relief in the affected regions.

The Baptist World Alliance, a fellowship of 214 Baptist unions and conventions, said plans are being made to send a medical team to Pakistan within the next few days. The organization launched an appeal for Earthquake relief, and announced that it needs donations of money to meet the cost of the current Rescue Team, any future teams, and the provision of supplies.

Meanwhile, churches in Pakistan requested prayers for the victims and survivors.

“This (quake) has devastated our country. The people are in a state of shock,” said Bishop Samuel Pervez, president of the National Council of Churches of Pakistan (NCCP), an alliance of four Protestant churches. Pervez described the tragedy as the “worst ever” in Pakistan’s history.

Donations to the United Methodist relief effort can be marked for "UMCOR Advance #232000, Pakistan Earthquake," and placed in church offering plates or sent to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y. 10087-9068. Contributions also can be made by phone at (800) 554-8583. If funds intended for recovery in a specific region, that should be noted. More information is available at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/earthquake/index.stm.

Contributions to the Presbyterian Church USA Pakistan earthquake relief may be sent through normal mission-giving channels; designate gifts for account DR000038. To make a gift by credit card, call PresbyTel at (800) 872-3283 or visit the Web site: www.pcusa.org/pda/donate/accounts.htm. Checks payable to the PC(USA) can be mailed to: Presbyterian Church (USA), Individual Remittance Processing, P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

Donations to Baptist World Aid should be designated “Earthquake Appeal.” Checks or money orders can be sent to: Baptist World Aid 405 North Washington Street Falls Church, VA22046, USA. To make a gift over the phone, call: 1 703 790 8980.