INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE APPEAL FOR CHRISTIAN VICTIMS
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the densely populated heart of Java island, Indonesia around dawn on Saturday morning, 27th May. Hundreds of square kilometres were affected, including the ancient royal capital Yogyakarta. According to the most recent estimates, almost 5,000 people have been killed, 10,000 injured (1,000 of them seriously) and 150,000 made homeless.
Although the region is Muslim-majority, there are many Christians amongst the earthquake victims, killed, injured or made homeless. Church buildings have also been destroyed. First estimates suggest 10,000 Christians have been affected, but the real figure could be much higher. Barnabas Fund is therefore appealing for assistance for Christian victims of the earthquake.
The worst death toll is in the town of Bantul where 70-80% of the homes were destroyed.The second worst affected area is the district of Klaten. The Christian population of Bantul is estimated at 2% to 5%. Equivalent figures for Klaten are 10% to 15%. This means that there are up to 40,000 Christians living in Bantul and up to 180,000 Christians in Klaten.
The destruction of church buildings will become a particular difficulty once the initial emergency has been dealt with. Before the earthquake there were only around 40 legally registered church buildings in Bantul and some 147 in Klaten. In addition there were around 50 underground churches functioning in Bantul and Klaten. Because it is so difficult to get worship permits, the loss of legally registered church buildings will have a very serious effect on the Christians. Further west on Java, the forced closure of large numbers of churches is causing huge problems for the Christian community, as it is illegal to worship in homes.
Barnabas Fund is working in conjunction with Asian Mission and Integrated Development (AMID) and other partners in the region to send help to the affected area. AMID already have 50 volunteers working in five locations in cooperation with local churches and Christian organisations. Funds are needed for food, water, clothing, bedding, tents, and medical supplies. Barnabas Fund is sending an immediate grant if US$50,000. A Barnabas Fund representative will be in the earthquake area next week.
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Pray that assistance will reach all the earthquake victims speedily. Although central Java is well supplied with roads and infrastructure, many roads and bridges were destroyed, hindering relief efforts. Pray that medical staff will have extra strength to cope with the demands on them.
Pray that the Christian minority will get sufficient help as well as the Muslim majority. Christians in this area suffer discrimination and neglect. Pray that they will not be discriminated against in the aid efforts as happened in Indonesia’s Aceh province after the 2004 tsunami.
People in the devastated area are very fearful. There have been hundreds of after-shocks already and they also fear a large eruption from the nearby volcano Mount Merapi. Most prefer to sleep in the open in the rain, rather than to go inside the remaining buildings which still stand. Pray that Christians will be able to radiate peace, hope and trust in their heavenly Father."