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Where Was God in the Tsunami,
and the 400 Saved on the Mountain?

I  have received this further word from Pastor Hekman in Jakarta and CONFIRMED the story via a follow-up phone call to Himawan Duhana of the Indonesian Relief Fund.

I just had a call from Pastor Arnold Abraham in Ambon. I can now confirm the story about the 400 Christians who were saved from destruction by the Tsunami at Banda Aceh.

Pastor Abraham had a visit from some Chinese Indonesian pastors. The names of the three men are Rev. Himawan (representing www.irfusa.org and www.cityblessing.org), Rev. Hana Ananda (founder and president of Pondok Kasih in Surabaya), and Jhon Kahuluge (also from Pondok Kasih in Surabaya).

They were accompanies by Rev. Abraham Gitono from Surabaya, a board member of Pondok Kasih, ordained by the Bethany Church. The other nine in the group came from seven different humanitarian organizations from the U.S.

They had come from visiting Meulaboh, Aceh and heard this account from the believers in Meulaboh. The 400 believers involved are from the Roman Catholic Church, GPIB Church and HKPB Church. They had requested permission from the District Leader (Camat), Police (POLRES) and DANDIM (Army) to celebrate Christmas in Meulaboh. They were told that since Meulaboh is under Sharia Islamic law it would better to go somewhere where there are no Moslems. So the believers left the morning of December 25th and walked about 5 kms to a hill area. They were accompanied by some members of the Marine Corps who were also Christians. They celebrated Christmas the afternoon of Dec. 25th and stayed there for the night. They had brought food, etc to camp there for the night. The Tsunami took place the morning of the 26th of December. These believers are now refugees living in Aceh Jaya."

You can see pictures from Himawan's recent mission trip to Aceh at www.IRFUSA.org.

We have posted another accounting of the story (a bit longer than the above), on this page on the site at: http://www.expat.or.id/orgs/calvarylifefellowship.html.

Sorry for the "back and forth" on this story, but I wanted to get to the heart of it and find out from an authoritative source that it was true!

Danielle Surkatty for
Pastor Bill Hekman
Member of the Organizing Committee
Living in Indonesia,
A Site for Expatriates

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Report From Bill Myers Providing Survival Support for the Tsunami Victims, February 8, 2005

When people began to call Outback Patrol about the Tsunami, we contacted Rev. Bill Myers at Tel-A-Village Mission in Jakarta to offer support. We knew he’d be on the job.  Instantly, we sent the $3000 on hand, and more since. We have worked with Myers numerous times over 40-years, we have lived in his home there, and he with us here, and assure all his work in a difficult nation is of the highest quality and integrity.  His co-workers lost hundreds of home VCR’s and TV’s used in 24-hours Gospel ministry. This is a portion of Bill Myers comments direct from those Tsunami affected areas.  

“I instantly contacted Bambang Jonan, who pastors a church of about 10,000 in Medan, the nearest city to Banda Aceh; five services every Sunday and regular teaching through the weekdays to ninety village churches right where the tsunami hit. Pastor Bambang has a well organized machine of workers to do the ground work for survivors. I was especially attracted to the "survival-food-boxes" they’ve been taking personally to survivors.  They make up a box of staples that if eaten properly will last a week; three kinds: for men, ladies, for children. I immediately felt a quickening in my spirit to commit for children.  He told me the boxes delivered cost for men or ladies $10,  children $5.  I immediately committed to pay the costs to make up 200 boxes.  I wanted to be there and see with my own eyes before I would commit to more.

After going to Aceh I  have committed for 300 boxes a week for eight weeks.  I have chosen three different children's camps for these to be delivered every Saturday for at least the next eight weeks.  

I also contacted another missionary friend, Bill Hekman, whose integrity is high and also can be trusted.   (Note: Les and David Nixon with Mel Stevens, Clive Way and Richie Gunston worked in evangelism with Hekman and Myers in Sumatra, Java and Bali in the 70’s and 80’s).  He told me he was working with a Pastor from the Island of Nias, located east of Aceh off the south coast of Sumatra.  It was hit hard by the tsunami also.  It is mainly Christian there, mostly Lutheran.  But the government is not trying to help them so we, through this group, are helping them to survive.  Hekman’s teams are rebuilding homes that were lost.  It costs about $2500 to build a simple home. I committed to build two homes there, with your help. I am planning to go back there for a day or two about  Feb  7-9.  This time I want to seek out heads of families that have lost everything and their source of income and hand them the money they need for immediate survival.  I will set it up so that they will get from $50 to $100 depending on family size.  That will hold them for about a month. I will do this until the money is all used up. Thank you Les and Martha; the help of your friends in Australia is an enormous step in keeping in touch with these people, for Christ. God bless you.

Donations for these are still urgently needed; write to Les Nixon, Georges Hall, NSW 2198

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A Difficult Question to Answer

Les Nixon says, “What grieves you is a clue to something you are assigned to heal.” We grieve that more than 200,000 lives perhaps, were ushered into eternity unprepared, and that millions of others are left homeless.  So, we seek to heal the hurt, and we rush to relieve what we can. But as in any calamity, funds used for God’s regular work are redirected to the victims needs. This then affects the day-by-day ongoing work of Christian Mission, who prepare them. “Which is first? What is the priority?” The answer to that question is a difficult one.

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First Things First Things First Things First

In the wake of the world's deadliest known tidal-wave (on December 26, 2004), billions of dollars and goods flowed immediately through welfare organizations. Relief teams immediately began delivering aid even as they grieved alongside those they employed and had worked with.

Christian Missions then, who depend upon the day-by-day financial support of the Lord’s people are temporarily overlooked in the massive surge to relieve the suffering.  Ironically, they are the ones who have been serving in these places for decades, unnoticed.  

Everyone described the disaster as having "biblical-proportions" and said that it may well require "the largest and most costly relief effort in known history." The latest death toll estimates exceeded 282,000 victims, with millions more people affected. The fund flow away from normal Missions has been enormous. Thousands of missionaries are pulling in their belts, just to show the compassion Jesus requires, and which they talk about. Notably, the percentage of donations from Christian-nations has exceeded gifts from non-Christians by a factor of up to 100-to-one; a clear revelation of priorities. This has caused thousands of missionaries to reduce their day-to-day ministry expenses, while victims are given back the lives they lost.  

The relief groups in the disaster areas see this generosity as one way Christians express their Faith to their neighbors. This is a time for Christians to return hate with compassion and fear with assurance—and capture the hearts of the people with the love of Christ?  Another way is the regular ministry of love year-in and year-out, and thus win the lost for Christ, before disasters occur.

Home Missions are asking supporters to not overlook them at this strategic time. This may be the significant ‘biblical’ event of the age to challenge Christians to increase stewardship more than ever before ... and thus fulfill, ‘Thy Kingdom Come.’

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Where Was God in the Tsunami?

Four-year old Caleb Nixon saw rows of coffins in the Tsunami TV News, and instantly asked questions. Tenderly told they contained dead bodies from the Tidal Wave, he planted his hands on his hips, look up disarmingly and asked, ‘Well, what about God?’  

So, while we’re trying to make some kind of sense out of the Asian Tsunami tragedy, and after we’ve discussed it with our friendly local Geologist who explains how the tectonic plates under the earth crash against each other, bringing upheaval to the oceans and elements, remember to ask Caleb’s question too, ‘Well, what about God?’ If we can try to answer that question, we will put it all together a little better.

Scientific explanations won’t satisfy because those views are horizontal.  Also, there are those who hold only a humanist view of life and often criticise the Christians answers, as they have no other option. When humanists make man the centre of their world, that’s it. They simply see a disaster as one more inexplicable event in a meaningless universe. That’s not enough. But there are Christian academics too, with both a horizontal and vertical view of things. So, what do they say?

The vertical view, which Charles Swindoll mentions (Click HERE) is worthy of serious thought. That is, that God is always and only at the centre of everything. Even events like this may be seen vertically and because of the man/God conflict, seen as part of God’s permissive will.

Being Sovereign, God was neither surprised or absent. Romans 8:28. But tragedies like this are not in God’s directive will. “You cannot stay angry with your people, for you love to be merciful.  Once again you will have compassion on us.” Jer.50:20. The Biblical view (of the unexplainable), not only satisfies the human heart, but is also the basis of sound logical thinking. 

For reasons beyond our understanding, it seems God allowed a 9/11 or Bali or Krakatoa or WWII or this Tsunami, but He does not direct they should happen. They would not have happened at all, if the world were as perfect as He made it in the first place. When disobedience entered, (Genesis 1) man opened the way for natural disasters to follow.  Academic Art Kantz says God’s judgment of sin is independent of what we do. Rather, it is based on what we, in fact, are.

Reporter Martin Kettle tried to avoid interpreting this tragedy as judgment. He said, “Earthquakes and the belief in the judgments of God are indeed very hard to reconcile.”  Then Pastor Albert Mohler Jr., asked, “If God is both Omnipotent and Benevolent, how can disasters like this happen?”  He answered, ‘God is not unfeeling when people die like this.’ Yet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, could not contain his anger.  “Faced with the paralysing magnitude of a disaster like this, we naturally feel deeply outraged, and also more deeply helpless.” The newspaper headlined, “Of course, this makes us doubt God’s existence.”  

More than a hundred years ago F. W. Boreham opposed the Archbishop’s idea. In The Whisper of God he wrote (about Job #26), ‘With all Omnipotence at His disposal He never wastes anything. He never sends a flood if a shower will do; never sends a fortune if a shilling will do, never sends an army if a man will do. And He never thunders if a whisper will do.’  “Yes, splendour and majesty, all power and authority are His from the beginning; His they are and His they evermore shall be” (Jude 24-25).

More recently, Dean Phillip Jensen in Sydney quoted Jesus saying natural disasters may also be God’s warnings.  This was too much for liberal churchmen who replied, ‘It’s a horrible belief when you begin to think about it.’

Various journalists noted that this is no time for theological hand-wringing and evasion.  One said, ‘A great tragedy like this is often the catalyst for bad theology that is offered as soothing counsel from religious professionals.’ Some continued that God is still in control of the entire universe and there is not a single item outside of His Omnipotence and His Sovereignty (Colossians 1:16-17).

The words in the Bible leave no equivocation of His power and His love. When Jehovah God allows natural events to occur as a reminder of His Being, we would do well to heed them, as well. Josh McDowell claims that evil in any of it’s forms was not created, even though the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now (Romans 8:22), and they are temporary, not permanent. In God’s plan it will eventually be destroyed, and all things will be made new (Revelations 21:5).

Apologist John Flavel once said, ‘Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity,’ so in our weeping and praying, in our giving and caring, in our serving we reveal Christ’s Will for us, and by bearing boldly the Gospel of Christ to the people, we show the only way known to bring everlasting life out of a human tragedy.

And so, in answer to a four-year-old’s question, ‘Well, what about God?’ we can reply, ‘He was here all the time and He knows who are His’—‘for neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come … shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39).

–  Les Nixon

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Tsunami Aid and Muslims?

It's interesting to see what various countries are giving. Japan, being in Asia understandably, is giving a large amount of state aid, pledging US$500 million. The United States is second with US$500 million (not to mention the many millions that private donors are giving plus millions spent by our military). And while our carping critics in Europe immediately jumped on America for being so timid in coming up with immediate funds, Germany, one of the great industrial powers of the world, is giving about $25 million, or 7 percent of the U.S. total. 

Notably, Australia came in with a Billion Dollar investment; over five years, plus  $100 million individuals.

I also find it noteworthy that of the top ten countries, none is a Muslim nation. Just yesterday, Saudi Arabia agreed, after much public criticism, to triple its originally pledged $10 million. Kuwait, a country that ran an unexpected $10 billion dollar surplus this year, also pledged $10 million-please. Since Indonesia, the country hardest hit by the tsunami, has the world's largest Muslim population, it's ironic and sad that these oil-rich nations are so reluctant to part with the riches that enable their leaders to live as kings and princes-even for fellow Muslims. By contrast, America with its Christian heritage is giving generously to non-Christian nations.

But, you see, this is a pattern. In numerous crises, America, the beacon of hope to the world, has sent its troops into harm’s way to save persecuted Muslims. It happened in Bosnia, Albania, Kuwait, Afghanistan, in African nations, and is happening today in Iraq. But I have yet to see where a Muslim country has tried to help a Christian nation.

This speaks volumes about the worldviews of Christian and Muslim nations and the way we carry out our religious convictions. Right now there is a raging debate going on in Kuwait over whether more individuals should be giving charitable assistance to the people in Southeast Asia. Some leaders in Kuwait are arguing that the government has an obligation to give more to Southeast Asia because most of the country's 1.3 million foreigners come from that region. They are the servants and the nannies and housemaids for the Kuwaiti rich. Editorials in Kuwait are even suggesting that it really is all right for Muslims to give aid to non-Muslims—a subject of hot debate in the Middle East.

What happened in Southeast Asia is a terrible tragedy, and we should grieve with the suffering people and help them. But this is also an apologetic opportunity: Let the world see the kind of compassion we have for all people, not just fellow Christians. At the same time, the world can plainly see the limitations of a religion like Islam—theocratic, closed, indifferent, and unconcerned about the needs of others, even in its own Muslim family.

(Donations for these are still urgently needed; write to Les Nixon, Georges Hall, NSW 2198)

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March Donations Pay House Rents for Hundreds

When Australian Christians were asked for help, scores invested with a one time gift of Au$350 to pay annual house rent at Medan for surviving Christian families. These people have been living jammed together in a Dutch Reformed building at Banda Aceh, itself damaged in the tidal wave.

This gift allows them to try to return to a normal life with the survivors in their families, and kick start their small fishing, service, food and building industries again. A year from now, these families will be rebuilding their own homes where they once stood. From then, they may return to independence, and rebuilding their church families.

Gifts for these courageous people are always welcome and will always find a good home. Outback Patrol retains nothing of the gifts; they go 100%, no deductions whatsoever, from the Sydney office direct to the field missionaries in Banda Aceh and into the hands of the needy survivors.

When pictures and reports become available, they will be printed in the Outback Patrol newsletter, and on this web site.

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