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Solidarity with the vulcano refugees

Last December 15, 2017 Moderator UEM and all church leaders of UEM member churches in North Sumatra gathered and visited GBKP and the refugee victims of Sinabung. Moderator UEM informed about the donation of 20.000,- Euro from UEM for the victims of Sinabung, and we make a prior to the education of children. We are very grateful to be a part of UEM family members where all other members of UEM have the same feeling with us. All UEM family members could feel what we feel, they are suffering and crying with us in our struggle. Besides that, we are also very grateful to have you all as partners, our sisters and brothers in Christ.

It was such a blessing for GBKP when all the church leaders of UEM member churches in North Sumatra could come and visit our Synod Office to have breakfast together and a short discussion before we together departed to the shelter of refugees. We arrived in the shelter and welcomed by the song they sang in Karo Language "Meriah kal ukurku adi kam cirem-cirem" which means how grateful I am when you are smiling. Most of the church leaders were deeply touched by this song, especially Moderator UEM and Ephorus GKPS who leads the opening prayer in that encounter. Ephorus GKPS told that he was really touch with the song because even in such situation they had in the shelter, they still have joy to sing that song. 

Moderator UEM in his words of encouragement said that he was deeply touched by the conditions of the shelter and the tents where the refugees live, especially the toilets. The first thing he take a look when arrived was the toilets with no water in it. Afterwards, he tasted the water from water tank and he was in tear seeing all those conditions. He couldn't imagine how people can live in such those situation. He also said that as family members of UEM, this visitation is a manifestation of our togetherness as one family in UEM. We could sit together, pray together getting to know and could feel one's struggle together. He was really proud because in the refugees shelter we visited, there are not only Christian refugees but also Moslem. But even they are from different religions, the differences are to complete one another. We are not distinguishing the races, ethnics and religions, but we are all God's creation and together we are in a line to thing together and to act what we can do to keep the integrity of God's creation. We could be here today not because of coincidence but there is God's plan and a sign that we are one in Christ.

He was also said that children of refugees are still having the future. How can we create smart children with the situation and condition like this in this shelter, he said. But we believe that with the strength from God, with such situation and condition the children must be encouraged to  fight for the brighter future. All the suffering we face now are in order that we drown nearer to God. What we are facing now is just the same with the journey of people of Israel to Canaan for 40 years. We believe that behind all the sufferings we face now, there will be God's goodness in the future.

This December 26, the congregation of GBKP from Mardinding village who live in the shelter will celebrate their last Christmas in the shelter after being more than 2 years of their togetherness in the shelter, because in the next day December 27 they must leave the shelter and find their own houses for rent. Our local government have declared statement that all the refugees couldn't live in the shelter any longer. Indonesia President has made a good decision regarding with the refugees victims of Sinabung, but the implementation in the field by the local government was not implemented properly. Seven (7) of eight remaining shelters have been disbanded last October and the shelter which we visited was the last one. Again, this became a new struggle for the villagers because they will be scattered in several places and difficult for them to be united. They have been together in one village for years and also they have been together for more than two years in the shelter.

The government gave the consideration funds for renting the houses for 6.4 million and 4.2 million for renting the agriculture lands for farming. And the refugees have received that fund so that they must leave and empty the shelter. Therefore, there is a big expectation from the refugees that GBKP and UEM will remain support and assist them especially the education of their children.

The visitation was ended by having lunch together in the shelter and before that, the church leaders handed over the aids and donation they brought from HKBP, GKPS and other UEM member churches to the refugees symbolically. The aids among others are rice, sugar, cooking oil and instant noodle. 

Afterwards, all the church leaders of UEM member churches return to the Synod office of GBKP and continue the discussion for some action plans and through the discussion the church leaders of UEM member churches are planning to make a statement letter to push the government to speed up the management and handling the victim of Sinabung.

Again, I personally on behalf of GBKP would like to thank you and UEM for supporting us and giving attention and concern to our problems deal with Sinabung eruption. May God bless our ministry and together with this email I attached some pictures of our visitation to the refugees.

Rev. Agustinus P. Purba, S.Th, M.A

General Chairperson of Moderamen GBKP

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