Dwayne Rogers says the recent Louisiana Baptist disaster relief missions trip to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, was a miracle in more ways than one.
Dwayne Rogers says the recent Louisiana Baptist
disaster relief missions trip to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, was a miracle
in more ways than one.
For three years prior to Dec. 26, 2004, foreign
travel to Banda Aceh had been restricted, Southern Baptist
International Mission Board officials report. However, after an
earthquake and tsunami struck the city that day – killing more than
70,000 there – missions personnel were allowed into Banda Aceh
(pronounced bän’dä ä’chā).
“When the wheels of our plane touched down in Banda
Aceh, I turned to (trip administrator) Curt Iles and said it was a
miracle we were invited to a place that was closed to Christians for so
long,” explains Rogers, pastor at Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Pride.
“It also was a miracle how the Lord took people from
all parts of this state with different abilities and used them for his
Rogers and eight other Louisiana Baptists were
members of a medical team that ministered March 12-25 in an area that
was considered a tropical paradise before the Dec. 26 earthquake and
tsunami devastated Banda Aceh.
Meanwhile, a four-person feeding unit comprised of
Ted and Glenda Hofius, members at Summer Grove Baptist Church in
Shreveport, and two Georgia Baptists ministered in Banda Aceh on March
During the effort, the Louisiana Baptists lived in a
house with disaster relief teams from five other states – Tennessee,
Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas.
The medical team operated morning and afternoon
clinics for eight days. Between 50 and 60 people received treatment at
the clinics each day with medication provided by Southern Baptists.
Medical team members also distributed 1,000 pairs of reading eye
Most of the recipients either had lost the glasses as a result of the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami or never owned a pair.
Meanwhile, the feeding unit cooked breakfast for the various disaster
relief teams living in the home and ministered outside the house each
afternoon. At one time, 42 persons were living inside the house.
Ted Hofius helped purify contaminated drinking water
in four wells. He also sprayed pesticide to exterminate mosquitoes in
areas designated for medical clinics.
Glenda Hofius taught English as a Second Language
classes and assisted housekeepers with chores at the home where the
disaster relief teams lived. She also prayerwalked with women from the
Tennessee relief team.
Iles says the Louisiana Baptists’ purpose in Banda
Aceh was twofold. They not only offered physical care but spiritual
help as well to the Banda Acehnese people.
“Our main job was to build relationships with the
people there,” says Iles, camp manager at Dry Creek Baptist Camp in Dry
Creek. “We knew coming into the trip that we may not see much of a
harvest, but were planting seeds for future missionary efforts.
“We shared Jesus by showing compassion.”
Glenda Hofius agrees. “We couldn’t openly preach the
word in the streets due to government restrictions, but we preached
through our actions,” she explains. “We noticed how the people accepted
us as we neared the end of our time in Banda Aceh because they knew we
were their friends. They saw that we wanted to ease their pain.”
The Louisianians called themselves the “Samaritan
Sowers Club” because they were planting seeds for future missions
efforts while showing the love that the good Samaritan portrayed in the
“The people wondered why Americans came this far to help them,” Iles recalls.
“We’d tell them we came to represent ‘Isa Almasih,’ which means ‘Jesus Christ’ in their native tongue.”
One conversation with a young Muslim boy about
Christ afforded Rogers a chance to spend an evening in his home, an
honor in that culture. At the home, Rogers was able to share a unique
experience with the youngster.
“While he was praying to his god in one room, I was
praying to my God in another room,” Rogers says. “I was overwhelmed
that the Lord opened such an opportunity.”
Another team member who was able to share Christ
with a resident of Banda Aceh was Erin Askew, a member at Crescent City
Baptist Church in Metairie.
A former International Mission Board journeyman to
Indonesia, Askew says the trip was “an amazing opportunity.” After
serving as an interpreter the first part of the trip, Askew visited
with the city’s women and children the remainder of her time in Banda
In one of the villages, Askew was trying to calm a
boy who was misbehaving by allowing him to teach her the Acehnese
language. The boy asked Askew if she were Muslim.
When Askew said she was a Christian, he asked questions about her faith.
“I was able to share with him that God loves him,”
Askew recalls. “It was something he hadn’t heard
before. It was a small start that I hope someone else continues.”
Iles says the team had to overcome the Banda
Acehens’ mindest that Americans are like the actors portrayed on
television and the movie screen.
The team combatted this obstacle by blending into
the culture as much as possible, Iles notes. For instance, the three
women nurses who served on the medical team wore scarves, the same
clothing attire of area women. “This led to the people there being more
open to us,” Iles explains.
Furthermore, the key to breaking the language and cultural barrier was a smile and open heart, he notes.
“When you smile at people with your heart, it breaks
those barriers,” Iles explains. “We were ambassadors for Christ and
touched others’ lives. When people are hurting, they’re open to God and
people caring about them.”
One of the most difficult aspects of the trip was
witnessing the devastation of the tsunami firsthand, Askew recalls.
“The destruction was so great that I couldn’t
comprehend what they felt. I felt numb, but at the same time, I was
honored to be a part of something huge God was doing.”
Reminiscing on the Louisiana Baptists’ trip, Iles
says he is confident they carried out their mission – planting gospel
seeds for a harvest. “Have the precious people of Aceh province turned
to Isa Almasih – or as I call him Jesus the Messiah? …” Iles ponders.
“The answer is ‘belum’ (which means ‘not yet’ in the
“But it is a ‘not yet’ with the firm knowledge that
the seeds being planted are being faithfully watered and nurtured by
the master,” Iles continues.
“The harvest, as always, is his and not ours.”