Southern Baptists want to reach ‘unreached’ tsunami victims

By December 30, 2004

Asia (MNN) — As the death toll continues to rise in 11 countries in Southeast Asia in the wake of the tsunami, the largest disaster relief effort in world history is just getting underway. While many governments are responding to the desperation, Christian groups are trying to find ways to make an impact both physically and spiritually.

Erich Bridges with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board says their relief workers are meeting with leaders in Thailand. “Relief workers have met with government officials and they’re trying to see what can be done in some of the coastal villages that were just wiped out, many of them. They’re going to need food, water, blankets, shelter and basic medical supplies.”

Initially the IMB is releasing $125,000 to begin the assistance. “It will enable workers to go in strategically to some places and get some things started as they assess and provide aid with a human face,” says Bridges.

The IMB is praying they will also be able to get into countries antagonistic to Christianity. “Those governments will be more cautious in allowing outside agencies in. But, we’re very much hoping through local people there and through civil authorities to work to provide relief,” Bridges says.

While Bridges doesn’t understand why God allows disasters like this to happen, he’s resting on God’s sovereignty. “Through the ages we do see that He, again and again and again, works through wars and natural disasters and massive tragedies to open very large doors that have been very tightly closed.” He says, “Many of the coastlines that have been devastated are in places where Christians are very heavily persecuted. This may be an opportunity as local believers and relief workers from other places come in and provide love and assistance, that people will see the face of Christ and that they will respond.”

Most IMB workers have been located, but a few were vacationing in Thailand. Bridges is asking people to pray.

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