Five days after a major earthquake rocked Nias, Indonesia, Singaporean relief workers recovered a survivor from the rubble in the capital, Gunung Sitoli.
Five days after a major earthquake rocked Nias,
Indonesia, Singaporean relief workers recovered a survivor from the
rubble in the capital, Gunung Sitoli.
They were using tools provided by Southern Baptists.
Generous giving is allowing Southern Baptists to
minister on Nias with effective rescue and recovery tools, a Southern
Baptist worker in Gunung Sitoli reported. He recently spoke of the
rescued survivor and other recent developments by telephone.
More than a week after the earthquake, Southern
Baptist and Indonesian workers were in Gunung Sitoli, removing bodies
from the rubble and setting up a program to distribute much-needed food
to outlying areas.
Southern Baptists have provided one ton of food to
be distributed through four churches outside Gunung Sitoli. “The people
were very grateful,” the worker said. “We’re developing a good name in
the areas we’re serving.”
Workers recovered a boy’s body from one crumbled
house. As they exited the house, the boy’s family expressed
appreciation. “No one else has come to help us,” they said. “Thank you
so much for coming.”
Before they left, the workers visited with the family, prayed with them and provided counseling.
On Sunday after the quake, another family invited
relief workers – both Southern Baptists and Indonesians – to hold a
worship service on the rubble of their collapsed home. “They were very
grateful for the caring compassion that our teams were showing them,”
the worker said.
Many of those who survived both the tsunami and
earthquake are living in fear. A rumor has spread of a giant volcano
close to erupting under Nias that would cause the island to sink into
the ocean. “Everyone is traumatized by fear that a major catastrophe is
going to happen,” the worker said. “As a result, many people are
fleeing on boats, trying to get to the main island of Sumatra.”
Meanwhile, on Nias, people are asking the same
questions asked after the tsunami – “Why has God done this to us? Why
is this allowed to happen?”
Workers and volunteers are responding by sharing
their own testimonies and faith. In addition, trained counselors are
counseling survivors and sharing their faith.
The worker said he hopes the earthquake will lead to spiritual awakening for the people of Nias.
“Although the people on Nias are traditionally
Christian, there is very little evidence of Christianity in their
lives,” he said. “The one thing they’re seeing in Southern Baptist
teams is that these people truly care and want to help. Through this,
we hope to be able to spread the kingdom of God here in this place.”
Volunteers from the Baptist state convention
disaster relief network have contributed significantly to the positive
impact relief teams are having on Nias. Local workers praised their
expertise and commitment.
“They actually are what make our projects
run,” one worker said. “Without them, we would not
be able to do many of the things we are doing now.”
When the earthquake hit, tsunami relief volunteers
–mostly medical workers – from California were heading to Banda Aceh,
Indonesia. They were diverted to hard-hit villages in Nias to treat
“The doctors were able to medevac out several people
who probably would not have made it had we not been there,” the worker
said by telephone.
Also, a firefighter from the California team trained persons to do effective and safe search and recovery.
When survivors see disaster relief volunteers, they ask, “Why are you out here helping us?” the worker said.
“That gives us a great opportunity to share with
them our love for the people, which God has given us, and God’s love
for these people too,” he said.
The worker said the primary way Southern Baptists can help in the efforts is through prayer.
“One of the reasons why we have been effective over
here is because of the prayer support of Southern Baptists – praying
for us both in Nias and in Aceh,” he noted.
“The tsunami and earthquake … have definitely made
people more aware of what’s going on in Indonesia, and as a result,
many more Southern Baptists are praying for our personnel here,” the
“Although they may not be able to see it where they
are, it’s being felt over here … in the difference which our
personnel are making in the lives of Indonesians.”
The initial relief team was on the island to rebuild
homes destroyed by the tsunami when the recent quake hit. They ran
outside the house where they were staying and watched the façade and
fence of the church across the street collapse. They followed town
residents to a nearby soccer field – to be safe from any falling
structures – and set up tents, giving immediate shelter to pregnant
women and a woman who had given birth the previous day. Survivors spent
the night singing Christian songs.
The next morning, they examined the extent of the
earthquake’s damage. With few homes collapsed in the town where they
were, they headed to Gunung Sitoli.
There, the workers began searching for buried
survivors, recovering bodies and providing relief to survivors. Much of
the time, they worked under collapsed buildings, sometimes going an
entire day without eating.
“There is a huge need here,” the worker reported.
“The Lord is really giving people strength and helping them work
through the situation.”
Though many Southern Baptist workers will have left
the area by now, one worker was scheduled to oversee volunteer teams
and other aspects of relief operations. In ongoing relief efforts,
Southern Baptists hope to work through Baptist churches already on the
For initial earthquake relief work, the state
Baptist convention disaster relief network will furnish volunteers.
Persons may gather information about the Louisiana Baptist disaster
relief teams and effort by calling (800) 622-6549 or (318) 448-3402 or
visiting www.lbc.org. (BP)
(Audio reports from Nias may be found at: