Post-Tsunami, Aid Group Stays to Rebuild Lives

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RANONG, Thailand -- When Christians respond quickly to a crisis by demonstrating the love of Christ, people once hostile to the Gospel can become open to the good news.

That's what happened to a village in southern Thailand five years after the massive tsunami struck.

The 2004 tsunami that killed 200,000 people may have faded from the public's memory. But one Christian humanitarian group is still busy at work in southern Thailand.

The people of the Muslim village of Bangben were hard hit by the tragedy, but now they are prospering because of Operation Blessing International.

Like most men in his community, fisherman Kholi lost his home and livelihood when his village was engulfed by giant waves. Victims in neighboring villages were given new boats, but Kholi's village was left out.

"Many foundations came to help, but when they reached our village, they said that the projects were finished and that no money was left to buy more boats," he said.

Kholi worked for other fishermen to earn a living. He longed to have his own boat, because of the meager salary of only $4 a day barely met his family's needs.

After four years of waiting, Kholi finally got his wish when Operation Blessing gave him and others new fishing boats.

The Muslim fishing village is back in business again, because of the several boats given to its members by Operation Blessing. The people have their means of livelihood back.

What's more, the charity organization has found a way to build friendships among the Muslims and that friendship is transforming the spiritual life of the community.

"When we go to the Muslim village, we can freely share about Jesus Christ and the people listen, because we talk about the love of God and we make them feel the love of God," Operation Blessing's Arom Moolsarn told CBN News.

"After the tsunami, we had no boat, no money. We were very poor. But when Operation Blessing came, we have good work," Yaseen, a Muslim fisherman, said. "I believe they are from God, because they helped our village and everyone is very happy,"

Operation Blessing also started a mussel farm and a crab bank. These projects are giving surrounding Muslim communities a means to earn a living.

As for Kholi, he's very happy he can go fishing on his own boat anytime of the day. And instead of $4, he now earns $30 a day.

"I would like to say thank you to Operation Blessing," he said. "I waited a long time and now I have my own boat and I can provide well for my family. We were able to save enough to build our house."

Moolsarn said many villagers like Kholi are now seeking God because of the tsunami and the help of Christians like the Operation Blessing workers.

"Before there were no churches around the sea. Now there are about 15 churches that have risen in the area. I pray that even now all the people come to church, that they will not have to wait for another tsunami to turn to God," he said.

*Originally broadcast on March 5, 2010. 

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Lucille Talusa

Lucille Talusa

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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