Jan. 18, 2005
The Rev. Wesley S.K. Daniel
A UMNS Feature
By Linda Green*
passage of each day leaves the Rev. Wesley S.K. Daniel more concerned
about missing family members in Sri Lanka, where the Dec. 26 tsunami
killed thousands of people and wiped out churches that Daniel’s father
the days keep going by, we are getting less hopeful that we will hear
from our missing family members," said Daniel, Des Moines (Iowa)
District superintendent for the United Methodist Church.
native of Sri Lanka, he has been in the United States for 30 years.
More than 60 members of his father’s family live in and around Colombo,
the capital city of Sri Lanka, and along the coastal regions where the
tsunami demolished homes and livelihoods.
Daniel family in Iowa — including Daniel’s father, the Rev. Christopher
Daniel, a retired United Methodist minister — recently heard from
relatives living on the outskirts of Colombo. The area did not
experience the tsunami waves but was affected by strong winds. The
family members were scattered and "to date, we have heard from some and
have yet to hear from others," Daniel said.
are grateful to God to hear from those who are safe and that God spared
their lives," although they lost everything they owned and are living
in refugee camps and centers, he said.
"We are doing all that we can to help persons in both India and Sri Lanka," Daniel said.
|Photo by Paul Jeffrey, ACT International
Damage from the tsunami is evident in this cemetery in Point Pedro, Sri Lanka.
He and his father worked side by side to begin faith communities in southern India and southwestern Sri Lanka.
father started several churches in Sri Lanka and India several years
ago, and a few of these churches have literally been washed into the
sea," Daniel said. "Many of these church families have perished. We have
lost many of our friends, and the people who were members of our
churches are no more. This has literally hit close to home."
Rev. Christopher Daniel has been a longtime supporter of his homeland.
In addition to starting churches and fellowships, he worked with Tamil
settlements in southern India and Sri Lanka for decades producing wells,
housing, schools, churches, medical clinics and orphanages. A Sri
Lankan orphanage, built away from the coast by Daniel’s nonprofit
Calvary Evangelical Mission, escaped the tsunami.
seems providential that they built the orphanage last summer," Wesley
Daniel said. "It will go beyond its capacity, since the tsunami left so
many children orphaned and displaced." News reports indicate that the
tsunami left nearly 50,000 children in the affected region
orphaned. Concerns about child trafficking have increased since so
many children were left homeless.
called the disaster "mind boggling" and said he cannot "comprehend the
enormity of it. Not only has this affected my own family but thousands
in Sri Lanka." Estimates of the death toll in the island nation range
from 31,000 to more than 38,000.
family’s hearts are shattered by what we are seeing" in news broadcasts
from Sri Lanka, he said. A CNN report showing a bulldozer dumping
bodies into a mass grave "will haunt me for the rest of my life," he
"The images remind me of how brutal this tragedy was in Sri Lanka," he said.
encourages donations to the United Methodist Committee on Relief for
disaster response to all affected areas. The Daniel family, through
Calvary Evangelical Mission, also established the Sri Lanka/India
Disaster Relief Fund to provide direct assistance to those two
The Calvary Evangelical Mission is planning a two-week February trip to Sri Lanka to assess needs and help survivors.
am praying and thinking about the possibility of leading a delegation
from Iowa to Sri Lanka and India some time in the near future," Daniel
said. "I see the Iowa Conference on the cutting edge of doing something
like this as soon as possible." The conference is the United Methodist
Church’s regional unit in Iowa.
to UMCOR’s "South Asia Emergency" relief efforts can be placed in local
church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive,
Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305
and "South Asia Emergency." Online donations can be made at
www.methodistrelief.org. Those making credit-card donations can call
(800) 554-8583. One hundred percent of the money donated to "South Asia
Emergency" goes to that relief effort.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.