Within minutes of the powerful eruption of Mount Semeru in Indonesia on Dec. 4, Southern Baptists began working with international partners to respond to immediate needs, including the provision of food, water, tarps, hygiene and sanitation items.
Avalanche of lava
Clouds of hot ash filled the sky as an avalanche of lava and searing gas swept down the slopes of Mount Semeru for miles in the sudden eruption triggered by heavy rain, blanketing villages and towns in tons of volcanic debris, the Associated Press reported. Television reports and photographs show Indonesians running for their lives, volcanic ash mixed with rain clinging to their faces and bodies.
Initial reports show that the eruption has caused at least 34 deaths, 169 injuries, 17 missing people, and 3,697 displaced. At least 5,205 people have been affected by the disaster.
More casualties are expected as many homes, particularly in the worst-hit village of Sumberwuluh, are buried to their roofs in volcanic debris, according to the AP. Much of the affected area on the island of East Java is mountainous terrain that is difficult to navigate.
Southern Baptist response
Send Relief, the global compassion ministry arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has been assessing needs and is providing food, water, filters and tarps to the impacted areas, Bryant Wright, Send Relief president reported.
“Our hearts ache for the people affected by the eruption in Indonesia,” Wright said.
Due to ash contamination of regular water sources in the affected communities, Send Relief clay pot water filters from another area of Indonesia are being trucked to the towns and villages decimated by the eruption. The filters will provide clean, safe water in the eruption’s aftermath.
Wright is calling for prayer for those impacted by the disaster, for national partners who are responding to critical needs and for the ability of Send Relief to meet long-term needs in addition to emergency needs.
The IMB reports that Indonesia’s population is estimated to be 275 million, with 2.5% evangelicals. The predominant religion of Indonesia is Muslim, with 221 million adherents. Indonesia, in the Asia-Pacific Rim, is home to about 667 people groups, with an estimated 116 of those groups described as unreached and 44 described as unengaged and unreached.
Send Relief is a collaborative partnership between Southern Baptists’ IMB and North American Mission Board to provide compassion ministry throughout the world, opening doors to share the gospel message.
To donate to Send Relief’s efforts, visit Send Relief’s International Crisis Response Fund.