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Tsunami: How to respond as communities of faith


Jan 6, 2005 (updated Jan 7)
-by Janet Plenert

Winnipeg, Man.— A display in the Mennohoff museum in Shipshewana, Indiana says “Where there is muck and mud, Mennonites are sure to follow.”

During this past 2004 festive season, the world paused and turned to TVs, radios and newspapers as the photos of mud and destruction in Asia were unveiled. The outpouring of aid from nations is commendable, but will never set right or restore the lives of the thousands lost. Working with the millions directly affected is a task that will carry on for many years.

As Christians we live in this world even though we are not of this world. As Mennonites we have a history of generosity and helping. This is a time to again follow the muck and mud with a generous outpouring of love, prayers and tangible aid and action. Your contributions to our own relief and service agency, Mennonite Central Committee, are gratefully acknowledged as a powerful way in which the church responds to human need.

As a community of congregations in Canada, there are additional ways we can respond right here at home. Mennonite Church Canada urges you as congregations to respond proactively to this disaster, motivating and involving your entire congregation. Some suggestions of practical action are as follows:

  • Have special prayer times in the congregation and encourage families to do the same.
  • Reach into your local community to Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Malay, or other groups who may be more closely affected by the tsunami. Ask them how they are affected, how it feels to be so far away, listen to their stories, tell them that you care and that your church will pray for them.
  • Host a special congregational meal and invite a particularly affected group from the community to come and share and tell their stories. Pray together. See for counsel on interfaith prayer.
  • Together with a cluster of area congregations, host a special inter-religious prayer meeting to lift up the victims and those affected by this disaster.
  • Pray especially for Mennonite churches in India, Indonesia, Thailand and other affected countries. See Mennonite World Conference news releases at Remember these churches especially on Mennonite World Fellowship Sunday, January 23.
  • Commit to continue praying personally and corporately for the next year.
  • Click here to download a fitting song, originally written for 9/11 by Arlyn Friesen Epp
  • Click here for a prayer on the web site of Canadian Mennonite (click on "Prayer for Victims" when you get there).
  • Jump to a corporate prayer for worship settings

As congregations, we can make a difference. Mennonite Church Canada Witness will be carrying on with its work of building congregations that will offer support to local people long after the relief efforts diminish. We encourage your support for the immediate needs, and invite your continuing support over the long term.

We can do together what we cannot do alone.


Corporate Prayer for Worship Settings

Prayer for a tsunami shaken world

Creating, sustaining, redeeming God, our world has been shaken.
The mountains shook in the heart of the sea, and
while we believe that God’s city stands secure,
many are dead, suffering, and insecure. (Psalm 46)

We wonder why?
Whose fault is this?
Whose will is this?
We believe that you created a good and real world,
Our earth, filled with magma,
Covered by tectonic plates that support life,
Most of the time.
With all creation, we long for the day when “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.(Romans 8:21)

While we wait,
We commit ourselves to live in reality and deal with it responsibly.
To listen to the voices of death and suffering,
to reflect on you and your will, your kingdom,
to align with your longings for redemption and do our part
as children of your Kingdom, your city, which stands secure.

We pray for the spiritual and physical needs of survivors.
Help them find and cling to signs of hope.
We pray for those who are assisting them.
Give them the strength, the wisdom and compassion they need.

We pray for miracles of survival, re-connection and recovery.
We pray for the Mennonites and other Christians in Indonesia
Who will be witnessing to your compassion and love,
Even while they are targets of oppression.

Give them an extra measure of your grace.
And we pray for ourselves. Give us open hearts and minds,
So that we may hear and learn
what you are saying to us and teaching us through this tragic event.

Thy Kingdom come.


Submitted by Elsie Rempel
Jan 7, 2004