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In the wake of the world's deadliest known tsunami, generous donations flowed to Christian relief organizations worldwide. Throughout South Asia, relief teams began delivering aid even as they grieved alongside those they employed and supported.

World Vision broke a fundraising record, said Dean Owen, World Vision vice president for communications. Unsolicited donations (most of them made online) amounted to $1 million in the first 48 hours following the Sunday, December 26, catastrophe. He described the disaster has having "biblical proportions" and said that it may well require "the largest and most costly relief effort in known history." As of Wednesday afternoon, the regional death toll estimate exceeded 80,000.

Owen added that, in contrast to what United Nations humanitarian aid chief Jan Egeland insinuated in a comment earlier this week about rich countries' "stingy" giving, "World Vision has known Americans to be very generous."

The relief groups see this generosity as one way Christians can give witness to their neighbors in the devastated parts of the world. "As some of you know, the churches in Sri Lanka have been severely persecuted in this predominantly-Buddhist (70 percent) country," wrote World Relief Asia regional director Charles Moon in an internal World Relief memo forwarded to CT. "Will this be a time for the churches to return hate with compassion-and capture the hearts of the people?"

They will have plenty of opportunities to do so.

Swept Away

As of December 29, about 100 children sponsored through World Vision and two of the relief organization's staff members in Sri Lanka were missing following the tsunami that ravaged the shores of the Indian Ocean, Owen said. "Entire communities washed away" in the Ampara ...

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