I have been involved in many disaster relief efforts, but none compares to the “human induced” disaster from last year. It takes your breath away and rips your heart out to see what humans can do to humans.
September 23, 2019: In a nearby highland town, after weeks of build-up, local rioters went to the streets with hatred and revenge. Shouting “bunuh… bakar” (kill…. burn), the rioters turned their anger on innocent folks. The rioting left 33+ people dead, hundreds of buildings and vehicles burned, and a situation that may take years to repair.
November 19, 2019: Today I stopped by a burned-out building where I saw a man sorting through the rubble that had once been his home. Dishes strewn, melted glass, and a twisted skeleton of a child’s bicycle were piled in a heap. The man was obviously looking for anything of value he could possibly find. When the angry mob set fire to his house and shop, he had barely escaped with his life. Several of his friends were not as fortunate and had been beaten to death on the road just a few meters away.
Now, as I sat with him in the rubble I was overwhelmed with sadness. Putting my arm on his shoulder and looking him in the eyes, I expressed how sorry I was at what had been done to him. He took a deep breath and said, “It took me 20 years to build my house and this little shop where I sold rice, oil, salt, and noodles. Now it’s all gone.” Over and over he repeated, “It’s all gone. It’s all gone. How am I to live and feed my family now?”
Just down the road, this man’s neighbor, Markus had begged for mercy for his family when the rioters broke down his fence and headed his way, but the mob would not listen. They pummeled him with clubs and rocks, breaking both his arms in multiple places. He somehow managed to climb over a fence as rocks hit him in the head and legs. Looking back, he saw the rioters beat his adopted son, then dowse him with gasoline and set him on fire. His daughter in-law was left unconscious with multiple lacerations.
Around the corner from these two men was another man who lost his house, shop, and four vehicles that he used as taxis. When I stopped by to visit and encourage him, he was desperate. He explained that he now owned nothing, and his wife was so traumatized, she like many others, had returned to her birth-home island. He allowed me to pray over Him in Jesus) name and agreed all through my prayer.
September 8, 2020: Shortly after the violence of September 23, 2019, a group of concerned, peace seeking people joined together in an effort to help those affected by the disaster. We named ourselves Ninebe Dapukhogon – “We Are Together, As One”.
We invited our friends and families from around town, to contribute whatever they could to help the many victims who had lost family members, homes and businesses. We held an auction/sale where we raised funds, the equivalent to $13,000.00 USD. Chickens, goats, and a cow were all auctioned and baked goods, used clothing, handmade crafts, local food, t-shirts, and coffee were sold. Local school kids from town contributed hip hop dances, others sang solos or recited poems, all standing together to raise money for peace and for helping those effected by the riots.
From these sales we launched a voucher program that now enables recipients to receive the goods and supplies they need to restart their lives. You can imagine the impact when a local gives a voucher, asks for forgiveness for what happened, and prays for the person still traumatized by the riots. Team members look forward to each meeting where incredible stories are shared about the wonderful connections that have been made and the blessings they themselves have received as they have provided for the needs of folks from both Christian and Muslim backgrounds.
September 14, 2020: Now almost a year later we have located the man I met on November 19, 2019 as he went through the rubble. It brought me great joy to present him with a kitchen/food voucher from our team. He will go to the store where we deposited funds, and along with his wife, they will receive what they need as they rebuild their lives again.
After giving the voucher, praying with him and saying “goodbye”, he grabbed me by the arm and then repeated over and over, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” and “Praise be to God.” And I again remembered the verse from 1 Peter 2:12, “…that they may glorify God…”.
Our Leader was right when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and I, my wife, and those on our Ninebe Dapukhogon team are finding this to be so true.
Thank you for giving to The Christian and Missionary Alliance during COVID-19. Thank you for financially giving to our ministry funds and to our support so that we can be out here. Thank you especially for your prayers, as we continue to locate the many who are still in need. All glory to God.
Buzz and Myrna Maxey have served with the Alliance for many years in the Asian Spice region and are involved in disaster response, community development, and sports ministries. The people being helped in this story are supported by funding from Canadian Alliance churches.