On September 28, 2018, a 7.5 earthquake, followed by a six meter high tsunami struck Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. The death toll has surpassed 1,400 as the search continues for survivors. More than 2,500 have been injured. This has been the deadliest earthquake in the world thus far this year, and the worst to hit Indonesia since 2006. Most of the confirmed deaths are in the city of Palu, 1,500 kilometres northeast of Jakarta. The city is located at the end of a narrow bay which caused the force of the tsunami to be especially intense as it came ashore. The death toll could be even greater than expected as Palu was preparing for a beach festival when the catastrophic event took place. Tourists, and festival participants not normally in the area, were on the beach at the time. Hotels, hospitals, and malls collapsed and it is estimated that more than a thousand homes were destroyed in Palu alone. Roads are often impassable and communications are down making access to the area difficult.
Five days after the earthquake and tsunami, and probably triggered by the quake, Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi erupted. Planes have been warned away from the area because of the ash clouds, including those involved in relief efforts. This has further hampered the ability of government and relief agencies to get help to the area.
For Fellowship Baptists this region of Indonesia is significant in another way. Fellowship International missionaries, Edwin and Helmi Karwur, have been engaged in ministry in Sulawesi for several years, working along with students from the seminary in Manado where Edwin teaches. The church association of which the seminary is a part has three pastors in the affected area. All have reported themselves, and their churches, as safe, but there is a lack of food, clean water, and security in the area. There are others, however, connected with the seminary and with the Karwurs, who were in hospitals and hotels that collapsed and who have not yet been heard from. For these we solicit your prayers.
Students and staff at the seminary are already raising funds to help and a relief plan is being developed. After immediate relief has been delivered, rebuilding will take time. FAIR, through the engagement of our churches across Canada, is committed to assist with the efforts to come alongside those effected by this disaster. Edwin and Helmi Karwur will supervise the implementation of the relief plan and the distribution of funds through the seminary.