by Paul Jenks
The number of victims from the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster which struck five Asian countries is mind-boggling. Imagine the entire population of a large city like Chattanooga, Tennessee, where AMG's headquarters is located, being wiped out in less than 30 minutes! (Chattanooga has about 155,500 people.) And the number of dead was expected to increase as more bodies were discovered and more die from the diseases that typically follow disasters like this one. The number of homeless people is in the millions.
We feel so sad and overwhelmed when we think of the magnitude of the devastation. But we can help by touching one life at a time with Jesus' love. In fact, from the very first day, AMG workers began to offer help in India and Indonesia, two of the worst-stricken countries, along with Thailand.
In Indonesia alone, there were approximately 100,000 dead as this letter was written. Worst hit was the island of Sumatra, which, according to Operation World, is the largest unevangelized island on earth. AMG has two projects on this island and there was loss of life in the area where we minister. Our people have responded to the need.
The same is true in India where, because of AMG's excellent reputation, the government urgently sought our help. Our immediate response was to provide rice, lentils, clothing, and basic things such as soap, oil, towels, etc.
What a privilege to minister to them at a time when they are so desperate! Our co-workers in India have been sharing the gospel and praying with the families while distributing this aid. The stories are so tragic: mothers who have lost all their children, little ones who have lost their parents, entire communities wiped out. God's peace is so needed for those affected.
I have personally visited two of the villages along the coast where the tidal wave hit. I have seen the poverty of the people in normal times, and it's hard to even imagine that now these poor people are left with absolutely nothing as a result of the tsunami.
AMG supports diligent national workers who live and minister in these villages, giving hope and help. Because they are well known in the villages, their presence now is not an intrusion but an infusion—an infusion of love and encouragement when hope for so many has been lost.
While in the short term our efforts are concentrated on relief, in the longer-term we will help with rebuilding and recovery, whether that is helping the fishermen repair or get new equipment, rebuilding houses, or doing whatever is needed to tangibly express Christ's love to them.
This relief and recovery effort represents a tremendous evangelistic opportunity as well. The countries that have been struck include some that strongly oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. India is dominated by the Hindu religion with a sizable Muslim minority. What an opportunity to reach out to them in the name of Jesus, to show them the practical love of Christ!
You can make a difference in the midst of this tragedy. A basic needs package for one family costs $23. Call 1-800-251-7206 or email AMG missions at firstname.lastname@example.org.