International Ministries

Tsunami Relief in Thailand

January 4, 2005 Journal
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Dear Friends,

We have had a number of enquiries about our welfare with all the publicity the tsunamis have been receiving.We appreciate all your prayers and concern and want to assure you all that we are fine.My sister is visiting us from the Akron, Ohio area so we were in Chiang Rai with her seeing some of the sights when the tsunamis hit.If you aren't familiar with the geography of Thailand, Chiang Rai is about as far from the ocean as one can get and still be in Thailand.Still it is very sobering for us to see all the damage on TV as we have been to the areas affected and wonder what happened to the people that treated us so well when we visited there.

I would also mention that as news of the tsunamis broke, we took inventory of all the missionaries and volunteers connected with the Baptist group and all are well and accounted for.No one was vacationing in the area.Still we wonder about the greater Christian and international community in our area as it would not be unusual for people in Chiang Mai to spend some Christmas vacation time in Phuket, Krabi, on Phi Phi Island or some of the other affected areas.

Some have also asked about how they might assist in relief efforts.Yesterday, I sent the letter following below that I will share here.It is really a collection of several letters written by others.The call for blood is aimed at local people of course, but I include it here so you can help pray for that need.Contributing to the One Great Hour of Sharing through International Ministries is one way that you could contribute to either the UTC effort or the CCT.I might explain that the CCT referred to in the letter is the Church of Christ in Thailand.It is a Protestant umbrella organization that includes most of our Baptist partner groups and gives us missionaries our legal status in the country.The CCT is divided into 19 Districts, two of which have churches in the areas affected by the tsunamis.Assistance will be channeled through those churches.

The letter below was written for a different audience and I apologize for not doing more editing to make it more appropriate for you, but in the interest of time, I will leave it as it is.Thank you for thinking of us and please do continue praying for all the victims, their families and for the relief efforts in all the affected countries.

Greetings,

I thought you might want to know about the local channels available for providing assistance to the victims of the recent tsunamis in Thailand.While this message is aimed mainly at the representatives of the TBMF mission boards, it is also being sent to all TBMF missionaries and former missionaries and certainly help from any and all would be appreciated.I am sorry to be slow in getting this out, but we were traveling and are just getting back home.

Most related to TBMF are 3 channels for providing assistance:

Give blood:Earlier, many of you would have received this message but I will repeat it here:

The Red Cross in Thailand announced that there is a severe shortage of blood type "Rh negative" for victims of tidal waves in the south. This blood type is very rare among Thai people but more common among foreigners. So, they asked that everyone spread the word around to ask foreigners to go to the nearest Red Cross to donate their blood, even if they're not sure whether their blood type is Rh negative.

For those living in Chiang Mai, TBMF would be glad to provide transportation for you to go to the Red Cross office. It's a bit difficult to give directions on this email. But, if you prefer to go by yourself, you can give me a call, and I will try to explain how to get there over the phone. Thanks.

Contribute to the UTC Rapid Response Team:Jeff Dieselberg and the Urban Transformation Center have sent a Rapid Response Team to the affected area.Earlier today, Jeff reported that the Thai members of the team will be going to Phangnga where approximately 75% of the injuries are being reported.Annie Dieselberg is going to Phuket, the center of efforts for foreign visitors.Jeff is in Bangkok coordinating visitation efforts there.

Jeff explains,"In order to avoid duplication and to demonstrate our desire to partner with the Thai government, local authorities, the CCT and other organizations involved, we at the UTC are establishing a 3 WEEK ONLY time window for donations beginning immediately and concluding on January 17, 2005. Our intent is to not only use these funds in our direct response, but then to eventually provide additional support to larger church body (CCT) and others who are responding."

Any church or individual interested in making tax-deductible donations for this effort within 3 WEEKS ONLY, please send you contribution express to:

In the US, contributions can be made through One Great Hour of Sharing marked Asian Tsunami Tragedy through your local church.

For more information, contact the UTC and Jeff at: jeffd@mozart.inet.co.th or urbanbangkok@msn.com.Also, if you make a contribution, please inform Jeff by e-mail.

Contribute to the CCT relief efforts:Scott Coats (e-mail address: wct@chmai.loxinfo.co.th), who many of you know, has been asked by the CCT to inform the mission community of the CCT response.On behalf of the CCT, Scott sent the following letter on December 28:

Dear Friends in Christ,

The situation in several provinces in the South of Thailand after the devastating Tsunami which hit the western coast on the morning of 26 December is overwhelming. Up to 10,000 have been hurt and are homeless, while well over 1,000 are dead. As recovery efforts continue, the number of dead will likely rise to around 2,000. The areas that have received the most media coverage in Thailand are the tourist resort islands of Phuket, Phi Phi and others. However, in Phang Nga and Krabi Provinces whole communities of local residents, particularly the Chao Lay* people or sea gypsies, have been destroyed. They are without shelter, clean water, and food. The Thai authorities and public are responding, yet have asked for volunteers and donations to assist the people of Southern Thailand. [*Note: The Chao Lay communities are entire Muslim fishing village communities built on stilts over the sea on islands and coastal areas in the far South. ]

The 9th and 17th Districts of the Church of Christ in Thailand are located in the far South in Nakon Sri Thamarat and Trang provinces. At this very moment church members and CCT nationals who have gone to the South are preparing to respond to the needs of their Muslim brothers and sisters in neighboring Krabi and Phang Nga provinces. The CCT has authorized $5,000 of aid toward the assistance efforts. Though local Thai churches throughout the country are eager to assist and will certainly be supporting the effort, much more is needed.

On behalf of the Church of Christ in Thailand, I would urge you to consider joining us in providing assistance to the local residents of the South of Thailand. You have been faithful partners with us in serving Christ for many years, and it would be a great show of Christ's love for our affected neighbors in the South if we were able to assist in the relief and reconstruction efforts there.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration on this great need.

Respectfully,

Dr. Sint Kimhachanh,

General Secretary

Church of Christ in Thailand

Above all, we can all be praying for the families of the dead an injured.The numbers are too staggering to imagine with whole families and communities wiped out and losses of 10s of thousands in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.It seems especially wrenching for those that are the single remaining survivors of their family.After such losses it must take extreme courage to even get up in the morning.Hopes are already being expressed though, that perhaps this tragedy will bring peace to war torn areas as people work together.Perhaps too, the love of Christ can be seen in the way people reach out to each other.

As the year ends in tragedy, may we rejoice in the hope that Christ gives in the New Year ahead.

Yours in Christ,

Duane Binkley