Tsunami Survivors Desperate for Help, Open to Gospel
by Allie Martin
January 6, 2005
(AgapePress) - The president of Gospel for Asia says the devastating earthquake and tidal wave that hit South Asian countries in late December should make every true believer focus on evangelism.
Current estimates indicate more than 140,000 people were killed when the tsunami swamped the coastlines of a dozen Asian countries on Christmas weekend. Indonesia was hardest hit, reporting nearly 100,000 deaths. Also suffering tremendous loss of life was Sri Lanka (~30,000), India (almost 10,000), and Thailand (~5,000). In addition, several European nations lost citizens who were vacationing in the region. The United States is confirming 36 deaths of its citizens, but several thousand Americans have not yet been located.
K.P. Yohannon of Gospel for Asia, which plants churches in those areas hardest hit by the disaster, says the tragedy should cause Christians around the world to re-evaluate their evangelistic efforts.
"When I heard [about the tsunami disaster], the first thing that hit me so hard was that the Lord's coming is very near -- and we will hear of more things like this all over the world because the time is running out," Yohannon says. "Secondly ... we don't recognize half of the world never heard that Jesus ever came into the world to forgive sins." That, he says, constitutes "an incredible challenge, a desperate cry for us to not lose any more opportunities [to share the gospel], but to be unselfish in our praying and our giving to touch a world that never heard Jesus' name."
According to the GFA leader, Christian workers who are assisting the survivors are reporting that many are open to the gospel.
"As we go about ministering to the suffering people -- tens of thousands of people -- I'm hearing that many are listening and [asking] why it happened, saying 'We prayed to our gods' and 'Our gods did this to us.'" Such words, he says are "very painful."
"Of course, our missionaries are able to explain to them that God is love, [that] Satan is causing this disaster, and that we can trust God," he says. "There's such a dire need at this time -- and I pray that people of God will wake up and do what we should do at this time."
Gospel for Asia has started an emergency fund to provide victims with food, shelter, clean water, clothing, and critical medicines. The ministry, which is planning a multi-phase effort aimed at meeting the physical and spiritual needs of survivors, says donations for relief efforts can be made through its website.