Even though the Rev. Jack Harris makes as many as 10 international trips each year, this one is going to be special.
Harris will lead a rapid response team of six people to Malaysia and Indonesia, two of the countries affected by the tsunami disaster. The team leaves Saturday.
“We will be going there to evaluate and look where we can do some major rebuilding,” Harris said.
Family Worship Center of Columbia will pay some of his expenses.
Pastor Tom Leuther said the center plans to raise $100,000 for disaster victims. Leuther said he may soon follow Harris to the affected areas.
Harris lived in Malaysia two years ago, but now is based in St. Louis.
The response team will initially fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From there, they will make their way to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where relief efforts have been slow.
Harris said that when he arrives the first thing he will do is distribute relief packages.
“We already have somebody on the ground that is buying the materials needed,” he said.
Another local heading to the tsunami nations is Dr. Syed Arshad Husain, founder and director of the MU Center for Psychosocial Trauma, who plans to lead a team of experts to the disaster areas.
Husain said that people’s psychological needs are not being met in the affected countries because there is an acute shortage of mental health professionals in South Asia.
Husain and his team will hold training sessions for mental health professionals from the devastated nations.
At Christian Fellowship Church, parishioner Theresa Bane — a missionary in northern Thailand since October — has contacted the church to report that she is unharmed, said church member Debbie Koske.
Koske said the church has no plans to raise money for the relief efforts yet, but many members are supporting Bane financially.
Koske is also unaware if Bane is directly participating in the relief efforts.
“Her church (in Thailand) is organizing a direct relief effort,” Koske said.
“We are most likely going to support that.”