Two Queensland Uniting Church ministers suffered personal loss when the Boxing Day tsunami devastated costal villages of South India.
Mackay UC minister Rev Satya Yerramsetti grew up in the area and Moggill UC minister Mr Devadosan Sugirtharaj worked in a fishing village that was destroyed by the tsunami.
“I have been affected personally. Some of my friends are gone,” said Mr Sugirtharaj.
“The Sunday after the tsunami I had to preach. What do you preach? Do you talk about the love of God? I can’t offer any guarantees to these people.”
Both churches responded generously and quickly.
Like many churches, the congregation at Moggill UC halves in size over the summer holidays. Despite that they raised almost $3000 in one day in response to Mr Sugirtharaj’s call.
Since then they have raised $3455 and assisted the Nayakkerkuppam fishing village by donating school bags, books and clothes so children can attend school, sheets, fishing nets, and rice.
They have appointed a Christian counsellor to help people deal with grief and fear, bought a boat for the community and built a toilet block to maintain hygiene.
Two months after the tsunami hit Mr Yerramsetti visited a fishing village in Southern India. All their boats, nets and houses were destroyed.
“Buying the nets and boats is the biggest expense for them. I can’t even raise enough money for that. But I talked to the Indian government official in the town three kilometres away and he is willing to find land if I want to build homes for some of the people who lost their loved ones.”
Mackay UC are hoping to raise at least $16,000 so they can build eight houses for the local people.
“Small communities escaped the attention of charity groups because they were not main headline news. The Lord laid on my heart to do something. I am going back to India at the end of this year with the funds I have received so far and start building whatever I can.”
Mackay UC is also hoping to build a multifunctional community centre to be used as a school and a venue the community and church can use. That project may cost another $15,000.
Look out for Mr Yerramsetti ‘s display at Synod 2005. Cheques can be written to the Project Shelter and Hope and mailed to Project Shelter and Hope, PO Box 835, Mackay 4740.
If your church has been raising funds for great causes send us an email and tell us all about it.
Photo : Top: Moggill UC’s rice donation is much appreciated. Photo courtesy of Deva Sugirtharaj. Below: Boats and nets run aground after the tsunami. Photo courtesy of Satya Yerramsetti