What a sad and unforgettable week this has been! More and more friends and loved ones of friends have died or lost much of their belongings from the December 26 tsunami.
The wife of a Sri Lankan pastor in Chicago was on the Sri Lankan express train that got caught in the wave. She has died, but miraculously her daughter who was with her was saved. In total, 800 died. The pastor and his two sons are presently in the United States. Please pray for so many families who have lost so greatly.
We have prayed and wept for our nation for many years. The most urgent of my prayers has always been that my people would turn to Jesus. I pray that this terrible, terrible tragedy might be used by God to break through into the lives of many of our people.
The death toll for Sri Lanka alone is over 10,000 and keeps rising. The South has been terribly hit. Youth for Christ's Board Vice-Chairman Lokki Abhayaratne is Anglican archdeacon for that area. Pray that he will have wisdom as they seek to respond to the crisis. We really don't know what has happened in the Eastern coastal areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers. But the little news that is coming out is very depressing.
YFC's leadership team will decide on how we will respond long-term to the crisis. Please pray that we will respond properly to the Lord's leading. At the moment, we think we will be involved on two fronts.
First, we will help those with whom we have contact through our ministry who have lost house and property. Most of the people who have lost their homes are very poor and have no insurance. Most of the homes of the children in one of the areas where my daughter works are destroyed. Today I visited our staff worker whose house was destroyed.
Second, we will probably take on projects for Christian relief organizations, giving our volunteers and resources to help them fulfil their goals. They are more qualified in knowing what to do.
The leader of our English work will take his team of volunteers to help World Vision with packing their relief supplies.
One good thing out of all this is that there has been an outpouring of cooperation and neighborly love in helping the needy in our country, which has seen so much anger and bitterness over the past few months.
Neighborhoods (like ours) are getting together to prepare meals for the displaced and for other such ventures. People who usually don't work together have united to help relieve suffering.
We need to pray, of course, that the terrible weakness of hard working people (saying to themselves "We are the only ones who are really working hard") will not spoil their good work!
Ajith Fernando, author of Jesus Driven Ministry and many other books, has been director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka since 1976. He is also a corresponding editor for Christianity Today.
Copyright © 2004 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
To support the YFC tsunami relief work in Sri Lanka and for more information on YFC, visit Youth for Christ International's website.
Christianity Today's coverage of the tsunami includes:
India's Christians Prominent in Casualties and Aid | Velankanni basilica, Christian fishermen among hardest hit. (Dec. 30, 2004)
Tsunami survivors desperate for aid | Christian groups worldwide mobilize massive relief effort to South Asia. (Dec. 29, 2004)
Past Christianity Today coverage of Sri Lanka is available here.
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