Supporting those in need after Indonesia tsunami

An appeal for donations by Wycliffe Bible Translators following the tsunami in Indonesia in September has helped to provide vital supplies and begin the rebuilding process. The funds were sent to Kartidaya (Wycliffe Indonesia), which has been providing much-needed assistance to those affected by the disaster in Palu.

Within two weeks of the tsunami the Kartidaya team was able to distribute basic foods (rice, instant noodles, sugar, milk and canned fish) and large tarpaulins for shelter from the sun or rain. These temporary shelters were used not only for housing but also for church services and schools. The team also used the funds to rent buses, vans and trucks to get the basic foods to remote areas.

Further donations provided materials and supplies to rebuild churches, to help local mother tongue translators (16 in total) and local translation facilitators (two) working in Bible translation projects in the area, and for transportation and logistics.

Helma Siahaan, Kartidaya’s liaison for Palu Earthquake Relief efforts, said: ‘We would like to express how grateful we are for the way God works in and through you. The earthquake and tsunami was very heart-breaking. We were strengthened by those who not only felt the grief with us, but also chose to provide support for those in need.’

Wycliffe Indonesia partnered with three organisations in the region – The Salvation Army, GPID (Donggala Protestant Church) and GKST (Central Sulawesi Protestant Church) – to help many victims, both Christian and Muslim. In total, Kartidaya received donations of over US$60,000 from across the world.

There are many stories relating to the relief effort, but here are three.

When Kartidaya contacted Pastor Nurna from GKST, who is in charge of disaster relief efforts, she said that they needed some water tanks to fill with clean water from rain and other sources. Kartidaya sent money and the next day Nurna bought and distributed the water tanks. She told of one family who said with tears in their eyes that they had just prayed to God about this need and God sent them the water tank. ‘God answered our prayers,’ they said.

One pastor said, ‘Sulawesi is known as a terrorist region in Indonesia. It is very hard to share with unbelievers about Jesus. We always close the doors of the churches during the worship services, and we do not turn up the loud speakers because many from the majority religion would object to the name of Jesus being proclaimed. But because of this earthquake… there are no doors or walls that block the news of Jesus from being heard. We are also allowed to use loud speakers freely.’

Another pastor commented, ‘We started to build the new building, because we hope on Christmas Day we can hold the service on the foundation of our new building. At first we were pessimistic, because we did not have enough money for building. But God heard our prayers. Now we have begun building a church in time for the Christmas service because we received funds from our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we have never met before.’

The latest information that Wycliffe has about the destruction is:

  • 94 churches were destroyed
  • about 98 people are still missing
  • more than 2,000 died (government statistics)
  • many houses of congregation members were destroyed
  • in some areas, transportation has been very difficult because of damaged roads or airports.