Death toll rises in Indonesia earthquake, Christians respond

By May 31, 2006

Indonesia (MNN) — Homeless earthquake survivors living in rice fields and makeshift shacks begged for food and water under a blazing sun as Indonesia’s death toll continues to rise. The death toll is officially over 5,000, but that’s expected to rise even higher as bodies are pulled from the debris left by the 6.2 magnitude quake that shook the Island of Java on Saturday.

Christians are responding to the disaster. Operation Blessing International’s Mark McClendon is on the ground in Yogyakarta, the hardest hit area. “It just absolutely decimated tens of thousands of homes. Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, sleeping outdoors for fear of going inside because an after shock or another earthquake could bring whatever’s left down on them.”

McClendon says hospitals are also affected. “Patients in hospitals are afraid to be inside the hospital. And so you find them strewn around the yard — even i-vs hanging off tree branches and things like that because they’re just afraid to be inside.”

Operation Blessing has a national staff in Indonesia, which McClendon says has allowed them to mobilize quickly. “We have, now, seven full-blown medical teams going into all of these regions. They’re mobile and they’re moving from place to place and bring a lot more help to a lot more people than we would if we were just planted in a particular area.”

OBI hope to distribute 20,000 family sized Emergency Relief Kits by Christian volunteers. These people are also working as trauma counseling. McClendon says this is helpful because this is a difficult area. “This is a very Muslim area and an area that has been very resistant to the Gospel. It’s just amazing how people’s hearts soften when they feel helpless and there’s nowhere to turn to and yet that’s the moment where we can come and we can demonstrate God’s love for them.”

Funding is the biggest need right now. OBI is purchasing relief items in Indonesia and trucking the supplies into the devastated areas. Gifts of any amount can help equip OBI to be effective both physically and spiritually. Go to to give safely and securely on-line.

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