As described here, a massive explosion of ash blast more than 19,700 feet into the sky from Mount Soputan – one of Sulawesi’s most active volcanoes. Experts tell the Associated Press there’s no concrete evidence linking Soputan’s activity with the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on September 28, but the disasters could be connected.
Thankfully, the ash explosion isn’t expected to interfere with ongoing rescue efforts. Indonesia’s spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, told Reuters, “We hope the death toll does not rise. We’re continuing rescue operations but right now the team is racing against time.”
Joe Handley of Asian Access says the archipelago needs your continued prayers. The death toll just passed 1,400 and is expected to rise.
“Pray for the people of Indonesia that are so devastated right now…and then pray for the local Church, that they can be the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of all this pain.”
Helping Sulawesi communities
Asian Access, also known as “A2”, is a Christian leadership development ministry working throughout Asia. They’ve heard from three pastors in the disaster zone so far and expect to hear from more contacts in Sulawesi in the days ahead.
“Hopefully they can get some supplies and aid that will give them the capacity to reach out in the name of Christ,” Handley notes. “Our role will be to come alongside them, empower them and equip them for the long haul.”
Right now, pastors in the disaster zone are meeting the immediate physical needs of their communities. However, their continued presence and care in the weeks ahead will provide something other aid agencies can’t offer.
“As pastors [and] their lay people go into these areas, they not only can pass out blankets and food and clean water…but they also can just listen to people, and hear what they’re going through; console them and pray for them,” Handley explains.
“In the chaos of all the relief [work] that’s going on, you can often overlook the personal aspect. That’s where pastors and churches really can make a significant difference.”
This long-term effect doesn’t discount the need for “first responders,” Handley clarifies. The first week following a disaster like this “is really the place [for] those big international aid agencies, and many of them do a great job. But, this longer-term phase will begin to emerge probably within the next 3- 5 days…
“If you want to be there for the long haul and really meet the long-term needs of the community, then come alongside groups like Asian Access,” he suggests.
Click here to give to local pastors’ relief and rebuilding efforts through Asian Access. Most importantly, please continue praying for Indonesia.
“It’s a critical need situation. Pastors are asking us to desperately pray for their country in the midst of the pain that they are facing.”
Header image depicts 2008 eruption. Photo courtesy of John via Wikimedia Commons.