Methodists throughout the world are doing their part in helping the victims and survivors of the South Asia tsunami as well as their families by giving donations in cash and kind. But more importantly, they are providing long-term relief and rehabilitation.
NASHVILLE — Watching images from the tsunami catastrophe in Asia might compel some people to travel to the devastated areas and help out with the relief work. However, the immediate need is for financial support, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) said, and funds are coming in from the world community.
The relief agency has long-term relationships with other organisations that are responding to the disaster on the ground. The agencies are working closely with UMCOR to provide what is needed to the people locally.
UMCOR is among the humanitarian agencies recognised by the US government as an agency providing assistance to tsunami-ravaged countries. It also has had long-standing co-operative relationships with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
President Bush, a Methodist, announced on Jan 3 that two former presidents – his father, Mr George H.W. Bush, and Mr Bill Clinton – will lead an effort to raise funds from US businesses, individuals and foundations for tsunami relief. That private money will provide additional support to the US$350 million (S$577.5 million) already pledged in US government funds.
The Rev Kristin Sachen, head of UMCOR’s disaster response, said: “UMCOR has worked over a long period of time to develop the capacity of the church in other parts of the world to respond to the disaster. We see that as our job — not just hand out food baskets, but helping people have the capacity to do it themselves.
“Very often, what they need in a big emergency is money. Our partners have the networks, the training, and they simply need the money to carry out their plan.”
From South-east Asia to the East African coast, at least 12 countries are trying to recover from tidal waves that struck on Dec 26, 2004 wiping out entire villages and killing at least 150,000 people.
In Sri Lanka, UMCOR has partnered with the National Council of Churches of Sri Lanka, which includes a Methodist church based there. The council was already involved in relief efforts for the victims of the Sri Lanka civil war.
UMCOR works closely with Church World Service, a relief organisation supported in part by 36 denominations. Church World Service has given more than US$900,000 (S$1.48 million) in relief supplies and sending emergency assistance teams to Sri Lank and Indonesia.
Although UMCOR has already released funds to help survivors of the tsunami disaster, the agency considers itself a mid- and long-term recovery organisation. It is still receiving donations from local churches and individuals through cheques and credit cards. Online donations are also being received through www.methodistrelief.org — United Methodist News Service.
Statement on tsunami disaster from the President and Vice-President of The Methodist Church in Britain
‘We must respond with fullest expression of our common humanity’
LONDON – The Rev Will Morrey and Deacon Myrtle Poxon, President and Vice-President respectively of the Conference of The Methodist Church in Britain, issued the following statement on Dec 31, 2004 regarding the Asian earthquake and its aftermath.
“On close inspection the picture on the front of the Christmas card received on Christmas Eve depicted the Madonna and child with the child bearing the stigmata, the marks of the crucified Christ. The artist was trying to express the intertwining of belief in a loving creator who in love becomes human and the awful reality of desertion and pain known through crucifixion.
“Two days later tsunami struck and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster began to unfold along the coasts of Asian and African countries. As the magnitude of what has happened continues to grow daily, many questions, some unanswerable, confront us.
“As we struggle in our response we look again at the Madonna and child and believe that a Christian response essentially issues from a belief in divine responsibility that is expressed too in divine involvement in the suffering and pain of our troubled world.
“We are called to respond to the tragedy before us with the fullest possible expression of our common humanity.
“The immediate responses of individuals, charities and governments have enabled vital practical aid, but the enormity of the task is stressed by the World Health Organisation’s plea to attend to the need for urgent work to prevent yet more thousands of people dying of communicable diseases because of the lack of sanitation and clean water supplies. If you have not already responded to the appeals for financial support please respond now.
“We are in touch with Methodist and United Churches in the affected countries and will continue to offer our prayers and support for their relief work. In all the horror there are glimpses of hope. In Sri Lanka we hear of remarkable local acts of courage and generosity as Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian come together in common need and support. We ask your continuing prayers.” –The Methodist Church in Britain.