January 31, 2014

Indonesia: Erupting Volcano Damages Adventist Churches

Source: Southern Asia-Pacific Division

September 2013, Mount Sinabang in north Sumatra has sporadically erupted,
causing damage to homes and livelihood and prompting villagers to temporarily
move to safer areas. However, the eruptions intensified this month with over
200 eruptions in a week in early January and eruptions in the last week spewing
hot rocks and ash up to 5,000 meters in the air. Hot lava has continuously
streamed from the volcano since mid-month, filling valleys and flowing into a
river. News sources report an estimated 31 deaths and the destruction of
indeterminate hectares of farm land in this well-known agricultural area.

<strong>SURVEYING THE DAMAGE:</strong> J.S. Peranginangin, president of the Adventist Church Mission in West Indonesia stands from a safe distance away from Mr. Sinabung, surrounded by vegetation covered by volcanic ash.

20,000 people have been evacuated as clouds of volcanic ash fill the air,
creating health risks for the villagers and poisoning their livestock.
Thousands of Adventists are among the evacuees, some of whom face the
possibility of living in evacuation centers for an extended time due to the
conditions and loss of homes.

In a
Facebook post, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono credits the safety
of the residents to the provided shelters in the vicinity. While a
five-kilometer radius around the crater remains deserted, shelters can be found
within a 10 and 15 kilometer radius. Pastor D. Nainggolan, president of
the Adventist church and mission in north Sumatra (North Sumatra Mission), said
that Adventist schools in Sumbul Kaban Jahe are serving as evacuation centers, accommodating
an estimated 700 refugees. The immediate necessities of the people are food,
medicine, blankets, clothing, clean water, and home renovation.

Of the 37
Adventist churches around Mount Sinabung, three were affected: Mardingding,
Berastepu, and Kuta Rakya. With continuing eruptions, damage assessment is not
an option so it’s difficult to determine the extent of the damage to churches
and homes, according to a young Adventist pastor, Trisawaty Sinuhaji.

response to the disaster, Adventist churches in west Indonesia collected
offerings on January 25 to help the survivors of the volcanic eruption and the
flooding in Jakarta and Manado.

-- Samuel Simorangkir, Gay Deles, and Teresa Costello contributed to
this story.