By Megan Kincaid
“Mercy in Action” was the theme as more than 50 participants from nine countries attended the disaster-response training conference for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s Asia Pacific region Nov. 27-29 in Hong Kong.
Conference leaders Rev. Glenn F. Merritt, director of LCMS Disaster Response, and Rev. Carlos Hernandez, director of LCMS Church and Community Engagement, shared how, as Christians, Lutheran partner churches and organizations can prepare for and respond to disasters.
Topics covered included “Introduction to LCMS Disaster Response,” “Theology for Mercy,” “Disaster Response as Ministry,” “In the Aftermath of Disaster,” “Post Traumatic Effects of Disaster on Professional Church Workers,” “Sharing the Gospel in the Aftermath of Disaster” and “Assessing Damage and Facilitating Recovery.”
A delegation from the Japan Lutheran Church gave a presentation on “Ministry Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami,” and representatives of The Lutheran Church in the Philippines addressed “Mercy in the Midst of Disaster.”
“Revs. Merritt and Hernandez brought experience and insight that made the training real and practical,” said LCMS Asia Pacific Regional Director Rev. Dr. John Mehl. “It was uplifting to see how Lutherans in Japan and in the Philippines have provided immediate and intermediate relief after recent disasters.”
Conference participants said it was helpful to hear how their fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters have responded to disasters.
“Even though Cambodia, where I am from, has not been heavily affected by disasters,” the conference provided “a good experience” to “hear some other disaster [responses] that have happened already,” said Sothea Then, assistant at Angel Dormitory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “I am very thankful to everyone who helped make the conference happen.”
Genmar Pizzaro, human care program facilitator with The Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP), said he enjoyed the opportunity to learn how the LCP can improve its disaster response. “The lessons, more than anything else, helped us to prepare for future disaster relief operations in the Philippines,” Pizzaro said. “In the past disaster relief operations, we had a little problem in the preparation, but with the help of the LCMS and our fellow workers, we can prepare well.”
Oratai (Dang) Thaweesin, executive director of the Concordia Welfare and Education Foundation in Thailand, agreed that the conference will help Lutheran partner churches and organizations respond more professionally to disasters.
“This conference helps you to learn the professional way [to respond to disasters] and you can transfer the knowledge to others,” Thaweesin said.
To see more photos from the conference, click here.
Megan Kincaid is communication specialist, Asia Pacific, with the LCMS Office of International Mission.
Posted Dec. 5, 2012 / Updated Dec. 6, 2012