While the vast majority of victims of the killer tsunami in south Asia were Muslims and Hindus, Christian communities in the area also are reporting devastating results – with some churches hit by the fast-moving water while Sunday morning services were in progress.
Though information from the minority Christian families in the area is scant, Barnabas Fund, an organization that monitors Christian persecution worldwide, has heard directly from some of the believers in countries affected by Sunday’s disaster.
According to the organization, reports have come in from India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
“Three of our churches in Nagapattnam District, which was in the costal area, were flooded and many Christian people have lost their houses and their belongings,” the Rev. Jenson Jebaraj wrote to Barnabas Fund. “Christian families who lived nearby the costal side have lost their houses, children, husbands and wives. All three churches were damaged completely, and the pastors have lost their houses because of the disaster.
“In the city of Nagapattnam itself about 2,000 people were dead. … About 800 Christian families have lost their homes and are in the streets without food, even though the government is trying to help – but they could not help every one.”
Jebaraj appeals for “any organization or churches who will come forward to support or sanction any flood relief fund to help these poor people by giving them food, clothes, groceries and medicines.”
The following report came in from a Christian contact in Sri Lanka:
“Church building have been washed away by the wave – we don’t yet know how many. The floods hit when Christians were in church for Sunday worship at about 9 a.m. Many Christians have been drowned, including women and children and some pastors. Bodies are still being pulled from rubble of churches and other places.”
In Indonesia, where less than 1 percent of the population is Christian, believers “have been very badly affected,” said a report from that nation. “At least 150 Christians have died and about 5,000 have been displaced,” a contact e-mailed to Barnabas Fund.