Missing Missionaries Found, More Deploy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/30/04-Garden Valley

Missing Missionaries Found, More Deploy

Fifteen missionaries with Youth With a Mission were reported missing yesterday in the aftermath in Southern Asia. They were found unhurt late last night.

The death toll now is close to 125,000.

Meanwhile, some local YWAM missionaries are getting ready to head to South Asia to help disaster victims, after a devastating earthquake and tsunami. They could leave as early as tomorrow.

Throughout this week, those near Lindale have been receiving emails from fellow missionaries. Today, they shared words from those who witnessed the disaster firsthand.

"Nobody was warned of any upcoming disaster and proceeeded with Sunday morning, December 26, in the usual manner," Dr. Willis Lawton, a YWAM missionary, read in an email from two missionaries in Chennai, India.

"Thanks for your concern, Brother," Jay Rhoton, another missionary, read in an email from a pastor in Sri Lanka. "I have already packed nine trucks with emergency relief and sent them to the East and South. It cost about US $20,000."

Those are the words of YWAM missionaries and others who survived the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people around them. Emails from South Asia and Africa have been pouring into the YWAM offices in Garden Valley.

"YWAM India and particularly YWAM Chennai is working in relief work right now as I write this to you," Lawton continued to read. "One of the communities where we have full time ministry amongst fishermen in Chennai got hit."

MercyWorks Director, Debbie Lascelles, is gathering a team of doctors and other volunteers to join the 500 YWAMers already on the ground. Some will stay at their East Texas base to coordinate the relief effort. She says it's a miracle no missionaries were killed overseas because so many were so close to the beach when the waves crashed onto the shore.

"A couple, they had just left for a few minutes, and they got back," Lascelles said. "And their friends that were there are all gone."

Missionaries, like Lawton and Rhoton, hope to provide physical and spiritual support to the grieving.

"It's just a great way to express God's love and bring them the gospel," Rhoton said.

"It's always overwhelming," Lawton said. "You just do what you can do in the area you're working in. You can't solve all of the problems everywhere, but you can focus on an area that you can do something with."

YWAM will be rotating East Texas missionaries in and out of the region in the coming months and years.

YWAM is still accepting donations and volunteers to help in their relief effort. $50 can provide water filtration for one family. If you're interested in helping out, you can call YWAM at 903-882-5591.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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