Baptist World Aid sent an initial $20,000 grant for immediate relief of people suffering from Saturday’s earthquake in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as aid started to trickle into the island of Java, where more than 5,000 were killed and tens of thousands are left homeless.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Tuesday provided an initial $10,000 in emergency aid, to be channeled through BWAid and other contacts in Indonesia.

A team of three doctors from Hungarian Baptist Aid that had been working on nearby NiasIsland with the 123-church Convention of Indonesian Baptist Churches in long-term relief from the December 2004 tsunami was quickly dispatched to the scene. Accompanied by an Indonesian doctor, they arrived in Java Sunday night.

A second medical team of six doctors and paramedics left Budapest Saturday. They carried half a metric ton of equipment. A metric ton is equal to 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,200 pounds.

The “Rescue 24” teams are sponsored jointly by Hungarian Baptist Aid and BWAid, relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance. One team is working in Bethesda Hospital in Yogyakarta and the other in Bantul, the hardest-hit region, and surrounding areas, according to Paul Montacute, director of BWAid.

Indonesian Baptist Aid, a ministry of the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches, which numbers 195 churches and 43,000 members, coordinated the response from Jakarta. Anugrah Baptist Church was being set up as an operations center and Prambanan Baptist Church as a medical center. Two Baptist medical teams from Surabaya and Kediri were expected to leave Sunday.

Indonesian Baptist Aid and other Baptist groups have gained experience in relief work in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, which left 170,000 dead or missing around Aceh. They recently assisted persons evacuated from the path of a volcanic eruption in Merapi.

“It is great to see the way in which Indonesian Baptists have responded so quickly to this tragedy,” Montacute said. “It’s good to see the way they are working together in difficult circumstances.”

Montacute urged “the worldwide family of Baptists” to respond by giving generously to support ongoing relief.

Baptist World Aid Australia pledged an initial $50,000 for a medical team, public kitchen to provide food and water, plastic tarps for shelter and blankets.

The 6.3 magnitude quake was centered just off the Indian Ocean coast near Yogyakarta, the former Javanese royal capital. According to Reuters, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said there were 20,000 injured and more than 130,000 homeless, of which 40 percent are children.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

Click here to see how you can give to Baptist World Aid. Designate gifts for BWAid’s Asian Earthquake Appeal.

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