Tsunami Orphans Won't Be Sent to Christian Home

  1. Where are the Muslims? Why won't THEY raise money to house and care for these orphans??

    Tsunami Orphans Won't Be Sent to Christian Home

    By Alan Cooperman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, January 14, 2005; Page A01

    The Virginia-based missionary group WorldHelp has dropped its plans to place 300 Muslim "tsunami orphans" in a Christian children's home, the group's president, the Rev. Vernon Brewer, told news agencies yesterday.

    The children were still in the Muslim province of Aceh and had not been airlifted to Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, according to an e-mail under Brewer's name circulating yesterday among his supporters.

    In an interview Tuesday for an article published in yesterday's Washington Post, Brewer said that the children already had been airlifted to Jakarta and that the Indonesian government had given permission for them to be placed in a Christian children's home. Brewer did not return calls from The Post yesterday to his home, office and cell phone to address the discrepancy.

    In the e-mail, as well as in statements given to Reuters and Agence France-Presse, Brewer said WorldHelp had raised $70,000 to place 50 of the children in a Christian orphanage but had halted its efforts when it learned on Wednesday that the Indonesian government would not allow it.

    "Once we became aware that the government had refused to let these children be placed in a Christian home, we immediately stopped all fundraising efforts for the remaining 250 Indonesian orphaned children and appeals were removed from our website," the e-mail said.

    The group's plan to raise children from Muslim families in a Christian home struck a nerve in Indonesia, which had regulations in place even before the tsunami requiring orphans to be raised by people of their own religion. This rule was adopted in large part to ensure that Muslim children were not converted.

    In response to fears that Acehnese tsunami orphans would be trafficked, the Indonesian Department of Social Affairs adopted a further prohibition on people taking children out of the province. Officials said the only exemptions were for relatives.

    Despite these restrictions, radical Muslim activists in Indonesia have warned against the operations of some Christian relief groups, arguing that their ultimate motive is to convert the Acehnese away from Islam, which has long been a part of the province's cultural identity. Though most Indonesians do not share the radicals' extreme agenda, these concerns have resonated among many in the country, who remain suspicious of foreigners and particularly Westerners.

    In Brewer's e-mail yesterday, which was forwarded to The Post by a WorldHelp supporter, he said WorldHelp thought it had the Indonesian government's permission for its plans because of a report from the charity's Christian partners in Indonesia, Henry and Roy Lantang.

    On Jan. 3, he said, the Lantangs sent WorldHelp, based in Forest, Va., near Lynchburg, a message saying they had "just received news that approximately 300 children under the age of 12 who had become orphans are at the airport in Banda Aceh and Medan waiting to be transported to Jakarta." The Lantangs added that the "rescuers of these children" had issued an open invitation to "any organization or family willing to adopt or take care of" the children.

    "It was our understanding that this was done with the permission of the Indonesian government," Brewer's e-mail said. But because of "a huge backlash from the Islamic community in Aceh, the government of Indonesia is now refusing to allow the orphaned children to be placed in any non-Muslim homes," the e-mail said.

    Reuters and AFP quoted Brewer as saying WorldHelp learned of the Indonesian government's refusal Wednesday, the day the fundraising appeal was taken off the group's Web site, and the day before The Post's article was published about the group's plans.

    Before WorldHelp changed its Web site, it contained an appeal for funds that described the Aceh people as "strict Sunni Muslims" who "have been very instrumental in spreading Islam throughout Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia." Normally, it said, "Banda Aceh is closed to foreigners and closed to the gospel. But, because of this catastrophe, our partners there are earning the right to be heard and providing entrance for the gospel." The fundraising appeal went on to say that WorldHelp was working with Christian partners in Indonesia who want to "plant Christian principles as early as possible" in the 300 Muslim children.

    "These children are homeless, destitute, traumatized, orphaned, with nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. If we can place them in a Christian children's home, their faith in Christ could become the foothold to reach the Aceh people," it said.

    In the message yesterday, Brewer said he makes "no apologies for the fact that World Help is a Christian organization." He said the organization is seeking other orphaned children in need of a home and is making every effort to ensure that all funds raised for tsunami children are used as designated.

    "We're really not trying to proselytize," Brewer said in an interview with Reuters. "It's no different than what Mother Teresa did by taking Hindu orphan children and placing them in a Roman Catholic children's home in Calcutta, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize for doing that."
  2. 36 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    It's a noble cause, and hopefully there will be Christian orphans they can help. As he said no need to apologize for being a Christian organization, but to take muslim children, regardless of how desparately they need a home, and raise them in Christian homes is wrong. Hopefully, these orphans will find good homes and be safe.
  4. by   Fluesy
    for those who seem to want to believe the worst about the muslim people - they have been giving aid - in fact they have been very active in the aid to the tsunami victims.





    i can't find it at the moment but i remember reading where the offices of the red cresent in jakarta were flooded with gifts that just kept arriving - often it was the poorest people bringing the gifts too.

    here is a copy of who is giving what


    now how come the good news about muslims and christians working together never gets publicized??

    the islamic relief worldwide and the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints shipped relief supplies from salt lake city to indonesia to aid homeless tsunami survivors


    this might be closer to the truth

    but the real truth is that it is not in the childrens best interests

    the children's welfare body, unicef has warned against westerners rushing to adopt asian children orphaned by the tsunami disaster.

    instead, it proposes that westerners sponsor children or continue donating to aid agencies.

    unicef says adoption of tsunami orphans are discouraged, because children need the emotional stability that their own communities or relatives can give.

    agencies are encouraging sponsorship programmes, in which individuals or companies ensure long-term financing for children or families hit by the disaster.
  5. by   SharonH, RN
    Quote from BeachNurse
    Where are the Muslims? Why won't THEY raise money to house and care for these orphans??


    Oh my goodness, who said they weren't? I don't know about where you live, but here in Atlanta the Muslim community has been very active in raising money for the victims of the disaster in SE Asia.
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    We just don't hear much about Muslim charity. Does not mean it's nonexistant. Just means we hear one side of the story, often, and in this country, Christian charity is indeed exalted.
  7. by   Fluesy
    interestingly there seems to be two sides to this story

    eleanor hall: a christian missionary group, based in the united states, says it has airlifted 300 children orphaned by the tsunami from banda aceh to jakarta, where it says they will be brought up in a christian children's home.

    the group, world help, has been seeking funds for its efforts, proclaiming on its website that it's working with indonesian christians "to plant christian principles as early as possible" in the 300 children.

    but since the media began making enquiries, the group has removed the appeal from it's website.

    from washington, john shovelan reports that most large religiously based aid groups don't mix religion and relief.

    john shovelan: world help is a small christian charity working in indonesia. unlike most religiously based aid groups, which separate humanitarian relief from their proselytising, world help has appealed for funds by characterizing post-tsunami aceh as a rare chance to win over converts to christianity.

    appealing for funds for the orphans, its website said it was an opportunity to quote, "plant christian principles as early as possible."

    the site also said;

    excerpt from website: normally banda aceh is closed to foreigners and to the gospel, but because of this catastrophe our partners there are earning the right to be heard, and providing entrance for the gospel.

    john shovelan: but that's now been removed.

    the abc contacted world help, which declined to comment on this story, but the president of the group, the reverend ron vernon brewer, is quoted in the washington post saying, "these are children who are unclaimed or unwanted. these children are going to be raised in a christian environment and that's no guarantee", he says, "they will choose to be christians."

    the us state department is looking into it and spokesman richard boucher raised questions about whether the group had met international standards of attempting to reunite children with surviving members of their families.


    so far from being an example of rejected charity this seems to be a case of someone forcing their beliefs on another
  8. by   URO-RN
    I am looking foward to see who adopts these poor kids. I don't care from what religious background the future parents are. Love does not care about color, religious affiliation, economic status, country etc. These are HUMAN BEINGS who need love, attention and a brand new chance at life. God bless them and God bless the families that open their hearts and homes to them. "Nuff said.
  9. by   fergus51
    Would you feel the same if they were placing Christian children to be raised by muslim foreigners? I doubt it. I would hope those Christians could be charitable by helping to sponsor those children in their own communities without trying to convert them.
  10. by   URO-RN
    Quote from fergus51
    Would you feel the same if they were placing Christian children to be raised by muslim foreigners? I doubt it. I would hope those Christians could be charitable by helping to sponsor those children in their own communities without trying to convert them.
    I would not care either way.

    What I am concerned is when the general public gets panicky if a Christian adopts a Muslim. "Oh, no! they might try to convert them to Christianity...Christianity is dangerous." and then they claim to be to damn tolerant.
  11. by   fergus51
    I would be concerned that any adoptive family wants to adopt a child (not a baby) and convert it to a religion other than the one they were raised with. Are they seeking converts or children? Judging by their choice of language it makes it seem like the former and I don't think Christians bringing the gospel to the savages brings up nice connotations for any of us. I'm sure they have good intentions, but I don't think it's a charitable act and I agree that these children would be better off with the support of their community, not being whisked off to a foreign country and being forced to learn a new language, culture and religion. I know many families in Canada wanted to adopt Rwandan orphans not long after their genocide and couldn't understand why the Rwandan government does not allow it, but for them it was a matter of cultural survival.
    Last edit by fergus51 on Jan 15, '05
  12. by   canoehead
    If the motivation behind the adoption is to love and care for these children I have no problem. But if the motivation is to make sure they join a religious group, I think it stinks.

    I think it may be too soon for permanent adoption, as people are still finding each other. Extended family in another town may not have had the opportunity to check on all their relatives and may want to adopt too. They should have every opportunity.

    Plus if the kids can still have contact with extended family...it would be nice if they were able to stay on the same continent.
  13. by   URO-RN
    [font=Book Antiqua]Ya know, I would rather have anyone family or individual adopt these children than see them in end up in a sex-slave ring; I don't think anyone would object to that. The main reason some object to Christians adopting these kids is that they have issues with Christianity, and some rightly so, but to say that they are concerned that the kids losing their religion is their main concern or that somehow these relief agencies have some ulterior motive is pure paranoia.
    [font=Book Antiqua]
    [font=Book Antiqua]Besides, I highly doubt that some of the Muslim dominated countries in the area will approve that some of these children be adopted into Christian homes. So, relax ....the "Christian boogie man" will probably not get to adopt children or as many.
    [font=Book Antiqua]Worry about the child slave ring stealing children of their innocence.
  14. by   live4today
    Let's say the only families available to take in an Indonesian child are of the Christian faith, but they're denied the privilege of adopting an Indonesian child solely based on they're being Christian. No Muslim family comes along during the child's growing up years to give that child a home, so the child ends up spending its life in a "Muslim orphanage".

    Now.....fast forward 18 or 20 years........that child is now an adult being interviewed on national television about his/her years in the orphanage, and how he/she felt about being denied the chance to be adopted because the only family who offered to adopt him/her happened to be of the Christian faith.

    He/She says to the person interviewing him/her:

    "I always wanted a family, but was denied a family because my country didn't want me raised in a Christian home, and no Muslim family wanted me. Instead, I had to grow up in an orphanage without love, without education, without a sense of self, with no family togetherness. What was wrong with me that my own people didn't want me? I would rather have been adopted by a loving family REGARDLESS of their religious beliefs than having to spend my entire childhood lonely in an orphanage."

    Many people are raised in homes where the parents have different or no religious beliefs, and turn out just fine. Just because a child is raised in his/her parent's beliefs, doesn't mean that when those kids are adults they will still follow their parents beliefs.

    My father was Jehovah Witness....my mother Baptist. I am neither one. Look into your own families, and you'll understand where I'm coming from with this.

    My beliefs: I believe in One God. I believe and accept Jesus as God's Only Begotten Son. Jesus is my Savior. The Holy Spirit is my Guide and Comforter. I am not drawn to "religious ties", but spiritual ties that bind my heart with HIS.

    My children believe the same, but only because they -- like me -- have struggled with their own internal connection with God and have come to believe the same. I never hear them say "my parents were such and such, so I have to be such and such too."

    Religion is manmade. Knowing Christ as one's personal Savior comes from an inner meeting of man's spirit connecting with God's spirit.