The mammoth earthquake that shook Asia on Dec. 26 opened huge fissures on the Indian Ocean floor and changed underwater terrain far from the epicenter, scientists say.
The mammoth earthquake that shook Asia on Dec. 26
opened huge fissures on the Indian Ocean floor and changed
underwater terrain far from the epicenter, scientists say.
Along the region’s coastlines, the destruction and
death caused by the earthquake and the tsunami waves it spawned are all
However, the cataclysm also opened unseen cracks in
a part of the “10/40 Window,” the wide geographical band from North
Africa to Southeast Asia containing most of the people who have yet to
hear the gospel. Whether those cracks open further or close quickly
will be determined by prayer – and the way Christians serve the
“There are few events that change the world in just
a few minutes,” Asia-based mission researcher Justin Long says. “On
Dec. 26th, a 9.0 earthquake changed the 10/40 Window in a matter of
minutes. Islands shifted, whole towns were washed away, military bases
were destroyed and major cities were heavily damaged.”
Christians are sending millions of dollars and many
trained volunteers to save lives and ease suffering in Indonesia, Sri
Lanka, Thailand, India and other affected countries. They will do much
more in the days to come. Christian response should be threefold after
such an event, Long says:
• In the first weeks, pray – and send relief funds.
• In the first months, respond through organizations
with the training and “staying power” to overcome enormous logistical
challenges. “Roads, phone networks, computers, power, water, medicines
– everything has been destroyed,” Long says. “All of that needs to be
brought in and provided.”
• In the first years, help survivors rebuild their
homes, schools, cities and infrastructure. “It’s during this period
that most everyone can have an impact of some kind,” Long notes.
“Short-term teams can come to help rebuild. Doctors can come to help
treat those with long-term disabilities. Even counselors and
psychologists specializing in trauma disorders could have a role to
play…. Begin praying now about what kind of role you and your church
can have (for the long term). That is when you will be needed most.”
Several of the world’s least-reached megapeoples –
groups with more than 1 million people – live in areas devastated by
the tsunamis. Hardest hit were Sumatra’s 3.5 million Aceh people –
proud, independent, strongly Muslim and suspicious even of other
Indonesians. They never have willingly submitted to any outsider.
More than 100,000 Aceh have died in the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Many more are struggling to survive.
“This is such a huge event that it will shape their
collective cultural memory,” a Christian observer says. “They could
become even more insular after this – or this may open them to other
Many of these people are asking questions about
God’s judgment and mercy, whether the recent events were a sign of
judgment on the people. Indeed, one day after the earthquake struck, a
Buddhist monk in India asked just that question of a Christian worker.
The Christian worker told the monk about the time
Jesus encountered a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples
asked him, “Was it for his sins or the sins of his parents that this
man was born blind?” Jesus refused to assign blame. Instead, he said,
“This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Then, he healed the man. The worker told the monk that Jesus taught
that “the most important response to a tragedy is not assigning blame,
but offering help and healing.”
Christian workers say if that message is offered
through loving service to the tsunami survivors in the weeks, months
and years to come, this part of the 10/40 Window just might open wider.