CCA Organizes Workshop in Colombo

Church representatives from all over Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia gather for workshop on long-term and short-term relief planning.
( [email protected] ) Jan 29, 2005 10:18 PM EST

The WCC's Christian Conference of Asia is currently hosting a workshop for a workshop on “Ecumenical ministry in post-tsunami situation.” The event started January 27, and will end tomorrow January 30. The workshop will meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

CCA General Secretary Dr. Ahn Jae Woong led the opening worship, held the morning of January 27. The goal of the workshop is to train participants with planning mid-term and long-term plans in providing relief for tsunami victims as well as for future natural disasters that Asian countries may face. This year’s workshop may focus more on themes concerning reconstruction for disaster-victims.

According to workshop coordinator, CCA Executive Secretary to Dr. Lee Hong Jung, churches in Asia lack long-term and short-term planning in regards to providing disaster relief. In a research paper, he mentioned that all too often disaster-victims remain vulnerable years after relief and aid organizations mobilize for the next crisis. When churches in Asia do act, he says, their actions tend to be ad hoc and unorganized. He commented on the CCA website, “As Asian churches, we need to change this pattern and in its place, institute plans for preparedness and mechanisms for reconstruction that leads to development.”

Dr. Lee cited an example involving the tsunami-disaster of December 26. According to Dr. Lee, local churches bore the brunt of the disaster. Local church members included those making a living in fishing, farming, and the tourism industry. Asian churches, he said, must develop long-term plans in order to address the spiritual and physical needs of individuals or communities devastated by the disaster. In addition, he said, churches of Asia should work toward helping local churches, many of which are working with reconstruction efforts. He added, “We cannot ask them to take responsibility on our behalf while we do nothing.” The overall challenge in this workshop, a source said, is to properly plan for healing and reconstruction.

Objectives that participants will address includes way to express support for people residing in disaster regions, assess needs of those affected by the disaster, and ways from which to aid such people. In addition, the workshop is intended for participants to develop the heart of wanting to build communities and bring peace to Asia using reconciliatory and ecumenical mindsets.

One highlight of the workshop is a planned field visit to the southern Sri Lanka town of Galle, which was one of the many towns affected by the tsunami. The participants will have a chance to witness, firsthand, current ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts in a disaster zone. This experience, it is hoped, will give participants a clearer picture into the reality of working at the site of a natural disaster.