Christians gear up for long-term relief in Indonesia.

By January 7, 2005

Indonesia (MNN)–Banda Aceh, Indonesia, once a majestic city, called ‘haven’ is now a tsunami-swept skeletal city surrounded by a vast wasteland of ocean.

First responder aid groups are pulling out this week. But, the second wave, including the Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board are shifting into high gear. For security reasons, we’re calling our correspondent, “Alan Brant”, speaking from Banda Aceh. “Once they leave, the local governments will know exactly what they’re left with and what they’re facing as far as what their needs are. It’s at that point, that organizations like ours, who must be focused on the ramifications of the aid they deliver, will know how to step in.”

Rebuilding efforts could take at least a decade, even for major population centers. Much of the area has been destroyed, and there are places workers can’t get to because of the amount of destruction.

Brant says it’s also an unprecedented chance. “The most critical prayer is for the survivors, the people of Aceh, and the other countries in Asia that have been hurt by this, but specifically for the people of Aceh.”

He says, “This is an area of Indonesia that has been completely locked down for the last 18 months to outside media and aid workers. For decades it has been embroiled in a civil war with the Indonesian government”, which means, Brant continues, that, “…it’s an opportunity to reshape their understanding of the body of Christ–that they’re people that love them, who are giving themselves to help them through this difficult time, and through that, hopefully, this will be a phenomenal time for the people of Aceh to understand who Christ is.”

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