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Letter to member churches in Indonesia

Letter to member churches in Indonesia following the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the area around Indonesia's ancient royal city of Yogyakarta on 27 May 2006.

29 May 2006

Geneva, 29 May 2006

To the Communion of Churches in Indonesia
and WCC member churches in Indonesia

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It was with great distress and sadness that we learned of the tragic 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the area around Indonesia's ancient royal city of Yogyakarta on 27 May. Further to this letter to the Indonesian churches, I have also, on behalf of the World Council of Churches, conveyed our profound and heartfelt condolences to H.E. Dr H. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, and requested him to convey our expression of deepest sympathy and solidarity to the grieving families of the victims and all those affected by this calamity. A copy is attached herewith for your information.

Since hearing the news of this tragedy, all of you have been in my thoughts and prayers. I am sure your brothers and sisters around the world are in pain with you due to the destruction brought about by this catastrophe and millions of people world-wide prayed together in yesterday's worship services, calling upon our gracious and merciful God to bring relief and comfort to the victims and their families suffering in your country now.

As you are aware, the WCC member churches also share your grief in this tragedy, and all of us are committed and ready to contribute in any possible manner to overcome the catastrophic impact of this natural disaster and in alleviating the sufferings of the affected victims. I was informed that Action of Churches Together (ACT) has already been operational in affected areas in Yogyakarta since Saturday and continues to provide assistance to the victims. The three ACT members in Indonesia - YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), Church World Service (CWS), and Yayasan Tanggul Bencana Indonesia (YTBI) - have started operations especially in the distribution of food and medicine, and the evacuation of injured children to the Tegalyoso hospital in Klaten. I understand also that ACT involvement in relief operations will be intensified in the coming days.

While we pray for God's mercies, we are at a loss for adequate words of comfort. We can only offer the words of the Psalmist as our prayer for you in these days of grief: "In my distress I cry to the Lord, that he may answer me" (Psalm 120:1 ). "I lift up mine eyes to the hills--from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2 ). We pray that the people in the affected countries will experience God's abundant mercy and kindness in various ways. Despite the enormity of the devastation and the immense impact of the tragedy on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in your country, it is our fervent prayer that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

May God strengthen you all to extend your concern, compassion and all other possible assistance to the suffering in your midst.

Yours in His Service,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary