Dr. Arnold Cook



Like a Dress Rehearsal for the Apocalypse

Dr. Arnold L. Cook

This startling headline from the secular Toronto Star speaks of the incredible impact of the Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The reporting bombarded our Global Village with horrific scenes of death and destruction. However, in the hundreds of thousands of family tragedies, there were also those special anecdotes of amazing survival. Derrick Burnett, an Alliance missionary from Thailand shares the following information.

"For some weeks a group of missionaries had been planning a trip to visit those beautiful beaches in southern Thailand for a little R 'n' R. However, the trip was providentially delayed.

In a separate event, a missionary's daughter had visited that famous beach the day before. However, when the tsunami hit, she was traveling comfortably on an ocean liner in the Indian Ocean.

Burnett also puts the realities of those days in perspective with this narrative of a small Alliance church on the fateful island of Phuket. That morning, December 26th, the seventeen families of that congregation left their homes near the coast to attend the morning worship service. After celebrating the birth of Christ together, they returned “home.” Well--not really. All their homes had been destroyed by the tsunami. (Burnett adds wryly, "This should cause us all to think twice the next time we consider skipping the Sunday morning worship service!")

Apparently, a violent earthquake, many kilometers below the floor of the Indian Ocean and equivalent to 100 atomic bombs, catapulted the nations of the entire world into a massive Good Samaritan scenario. Good Samaritan situations always seem to create a unique unity which immediately obliterates racial, religious and political boundaries. As one journalist put it: “There was a savage democracy to it." The province of Aceh, at the northern end of the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, is strongly Muslim. Now, with its 160,000 plus casualties, it has captured the compassionate heart of the entire world.

World tragedies bring out the best and the worst of humanity. Thankfully, the “best” is triumphing. But there's another side to the story. The depravity of man also raises its ugly head in those who seek to subvert relief items for their own financial gain. Yet others scam generous and vulnerable people with bogus pleas.

We are thankful for the many good, reputable and well connected relief agencies around the world. One such organization, which deserves a higher profile, is World Relief Canada. This highly respected and experienced international agency serves as the relief and development arm of the member churches of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Most agencies must depend on government agencies for distribution in the receiving countries. Unfortunately, this is their only option since it can greatly slow down the distribution, and at times donors fall victim to graft and corruption. However, World Relief delivers their relief commodities through evangelical churches. In the current mammoth crises, this is happening in Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. Unfortunately there are no Christian churches in the devastated province of Aceh in Indonesia. However, in the vast land of Indonesia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Indonesia (EFI) is reaching out to the people of Aceh. The Christian and Missionary Alliance National Church of Indonesia is actively involved with the EFI and their efforts to reach out to the Muslims of Aceb. Of the 45 member national churches of the Alliance World Fellowship, the Indonesian church is one of the largest.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance is committed to planting indigenous churches in every country. We believe that the only lasting work that missionaries leave in a country is “a self-sustaining national church.”

Dr. Ralph Winter, well-known missiologist, asks this provocative question regarding the Church: “Is there any other trend [that of nurturing and planting a self-sustaining national church] lasting 2,000 years of documented history which is as unshakably true and unquestionably significant?”

I think not!