Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Temple Hills church mission to revisit tsunami victims

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A team of five missionaries led by Eric Dorsey, associate pastor of the Evangel Assembly of God in Temple Hills, left Tuesday afternoon to revisit Banda Aceh — an Indonesian city hit hard by a tsunami in 2004.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a tsunami — tidal waves caused by a displacement in the ocean from a catastrophic event — hit several south Asia nations and killed nearly 230,000 people.

A group from Evangel Assembly of God visited the area shortly after the tsunami ended to help residents get back on their feet.

‘‘We went and wired the mosque,” said Dorsey of Fort Washington, who traveled with Richard Bell, head of the church’s local mission.

The violent tidal waves created massive loss of property and life, but Dorsey said it was heartwarming to see the happy faces of children in the area once the tsunami ended.

Bell said the team, which also included Richard Lee and Roy Ramalingam, made an impact on the people with whom they visited.

‘‘People want to see us again,” Dorsey said. ‘‘This provides an excellent opportunity for the people there to see all Westerners are not evil, and for us to see all Muslims are not evil.”

This mission is being undertaken at the invitation of the Jakarta-based World Harvest. Members of the Evangel Assembly are paying the mission’s $15,000 bill.

Church missionaries Pamela Coopwood, Wanda Russell and Karen McDaniel will join Dorsey and Bell this time.

As in its last visit, the team was asked by World Harvest not to talk about Christianity. This trip also will not be aimed toward converting anyone.

‘‘Preach the gospel always; use words when necessary,” said Coopwood. ‘‘We’re just going to establish a presence in a Muslim nation. An African American team is uncommon. We were the only Africa American group [last time].”

The team, which will reach Banda Aceh by Sunday, will be visit Muslim homes and attend receptions over the next two weeks.

E-mail Ahmar Mustikhan at amustikhan@gazette.net.