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Tsunami response entering new phase; Southern Baptist gifts top $10 million


RICHMOND, Va. (BP) - As ministry to Asian tsunami survivors begins the transition from emergency relief to long-term recovery, Southern Baptist gifts to the aid effort through the International Mission Board have topped $10 million.

By Feb. 17, total contributions received from Southern Baptist churches and individuals for tsunami aid had surpassed $10,209,000 according to IMB finance officials.

So far, about $2.5 million has been disbursed for nearly 50 aid projects across South and Southeast Asia, ranging from food and water distribution, medical care, temporary shelter and sanitation to providing fishing nets and reconstruction materials for villagers struggling to rebuild their lives and communities.

"So far we've been doing emergency disaster response," said Don Dent, IMB regional leader for mission work in the Pacific Rim. "We were there early, and we were there with people who knew the language and culture, supported by volunteers who have been meeting needs.

In the months ahead, Dent said, work is "going to need to transition to more reconstruction and development of [local] economies, which is great because there's a lot of relationship building we can do.

"Not everyone is happy that foreigners are in these places. Not everyone wants us there. But Christians are having an impact. People are overwhelmed that foreigners are coming and helping them. We just ask people to keep praying that the long-term opportunity will be there."