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Indonesia extends visas for aid workers; believers stay on.

By April 28, 2005

Indonesia (MNN)–Indonesian visas for humanitarian aid workers were set to expire yesterday. But the government is extending those permits for those who are in the disaster-hit Aceh province and Nias island.

Food for the Hungry is currently implementing long-term programs on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Their staff works with the families and leaders in the regions of Meulaboh and the west coast of the Aceh province to help rebuild villages and restore livelihoods through agriculture and education programs.

Food For The Hungry’s Matt Panos says they’re also focusing on a ‘Cash for Work’ program, which will aid the long-term recovery of the region. “There’s a lot of public fixing that needs to be done. Roads, latrines, various types of infrastructure. We need to provide the jobs and payment for people so that the infrastructures can be fixed and then people can have some sort of financial support and use that for food and shelter.”

Tsunami fears still plague the country. For many of the natural disaster survivors, they have lost everything twice. With every aftershock, panic swells up.

Panos says the situation is an opportunity for local believers to live out their faith as they reach out to their community.

He describes one church’s testimony shortly after the March 28th quake. “Here’s this devastated area, and our team walked in and saw a crowd together, singing songs of thanksgiving and praise because they hadn’t been killed by the earthquake. So there is an opportunity, obviously, to share with people the Gospel and share with them our understanding.”

Since then, the tremors have sparked panic, but FH staff are making it a point to respond calmly. Their approach is contagious, and prevents a greater panic.

Pray that God would strengthen and bless FH staff in Indonesia. Pray that God would minister through them to hurting hearts and souls.

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