Eastern Mennonite University
This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in January 2005. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news

Yoder Tapped to Aid MCC in Indonesian Relief Efforts

Dr. Lawrence Yoder in southern Sumatra Dr. Lawrence Yoder picking chocolate in southern Sumatra during a 2002 visit to prepare for an evaluation of the work of Mennonite Brethren Mission Services International with the Muria Mennonite Churches and their mission board, PIPKA, over the last 25 years.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) officials tapped Eastern Mennonite University Professor of Missiology Lawrence Yoder to assist relief workers in Indonesia, but Yoder, who served as pastor, teacher and missionary in Indonesia for 10 years, may defer to teaching responsibilities although he is eager to help the many in need.

“There are six younger Mennonite congregations in North Sumatra, next to Aceh,” he says, “where a large amount of damage has occurred, and we’re all very concerned. Local churches both here in the States and there in East Asia are working with MCC, and we’re very busy figuring out how to best respond. Most people wanting to help turn to their church and offer assistance, and this is greatly appreciated by all those in need.”

His continuing work in Indonesia made him an obvious choice for MCC officials hand-picking additional relief workers for short-term help on the scene, beginning in mid-January. Yoder’s teaching responsibilities (has taught at Eastern Mennonite Seminary since 1983) may keep him in the U.S., but he remains in frequent contact, now more so than ever, with Indonesian pastors, church members, and relief workers in the affected areas.

“I’m hearing a lot of unforgettable things,” he says, referring to an MCC eye-witness report detailing the massive loss of life. “When we face tragedy we get angry or think we are under judgment, and sometimes forget that we can help each other make sense of it.”

“An incident like this is unprecedented for us, and we wonder how people think and feel when the sea gets out of its bounds. Whether a community is heavily Islamic or Christian, devastation like this can cause a spiritual crisis aside from personal and physical devastation, because it seems to break all the rules.”

Though Yoder may not be able to aid first-hand in the relief effort at this point, he already has plans to return to that part of the world: he is slated to lead a Learning, Exploring and Participating (LEAP) youth ministry experience to Indonesia in July, in an area that was not directly touched by the disaster, which devastated the westernmost section of Indonesia, namely the province of Aceh off the coast of the northwestern part of Sumatra.

Relief officials continue to ask the world for nothing more than money to provide basic care and begin the healing process for the many left without homes, families, or schools.

For more information on providing relief to the victims of the tsunami, visit www.mcc.org.

-- article by: Marcy Gineris, posted Jan. 11, 2005