Eight-year-old Dika twists around in his wheel chair, trying to hold his head up enough to get a good look at us.  He smiles.


By the look of the bumpy roads our team traveled to get to his house, I don’t think his wheelchair ever leaves the front porch.  He pretty much stays put in this simple village home and is cared for by his mother and relatives.


Today their house is full.  Seven other families have made it their headquarters after the mountain they call their home exploded in fury last week.  Eruption after eruption from Mt. Merapi has left them all stressed out and wondering about their futures.  Their livelihoods as farmers, already hand-to-mouth in normal times, have become exceedingly difficult as no one knows when the farming can resume with gray ash in the air and ground.


Even in their hardship they welcome our team of eleven just as they have welcomed the seven other families.  They roll out the thin thatch mats on the concrete floor for us that the evacuated families use as mattresses.


We are happy to find this family and a place to give out some of our food supplies and equipment we have brought with our city, just eight hours away.


Our local host who brought us here has known this family for a while and has already been reaching out to them with Christ’s love.  He has already prayed for Dika’s healing and after our long conversation asks me to lead out in another prayer for this precious little boy, whose body is half paralyzed and shrunken.


I ask permission to these M*slim people to pray for Dika in the name of Isa Al Masih, the Arabic name for Jesus.  They gladly consent and hold their hands out palms up in their traditional prayer fashion.  As a team we pray a heartfelt prayer for little Dika’s healing, and are disappointed when we don’t see any immediate answer.


We chat more with family members and our host makes plans of when he can bring the extra food and supplies by.  They are grateful.  As our team puts on our shoes back on to leave, I notice a Javanese woman standing in the hallway crying. I ask her what’s wrong and she looks embarrassed and says nothing.   I ask if she has any problems we can pray for her about.


“I don’t have any problems at all,” she says and tries hard to smile to cover up her tears.  After some more questions I find out she is Dika’s aunt, and can’t control her emotions that some strangers have just prayed for her handicapped nephew.


Then I notice a woman behind me who is crying even more.  Same answer that she has not a problem in the world.  It’s Dika’s mom.


The three of us still in the house pray for her as well, that God would comfort her and give her strength.  I tell her I know firsthand how difficult it is to raise a special needs child, and get teary eyed myself when I share about God’s faithfulness to my own family.  I tell her I have witnessed an ongoing miracle over the years.


By now the rest of the team has made their way down the dusty road back to our mini-bus.  They’re probably wondering what is taking so long but have gotten used to moving at a slower village pace during these three days.


I remember that I have an Indonesian New Testament in my backpack.  “This is a book about how Isa can do miracles,” I tell Dika’s mom, who is still crying.  I randomly open to a page that recounts a story of healing, and one page over there is another story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man.


“Keep praying for Dika in the name of Isa, and read this book to build your faith, okay Ibu?” I suggest.   She nods her head up and down, still unable to speak.


By now the three of us left behind really need to get going and catch up to the rest of our teammates.  Dika is still stuck at home, the volcano continues to smolder and their family is still is need.  Yet I believe God is bigger and better than all that to work both relief and redemption into their lives.


Pray for Dika.  Pray for the families like his whose lives have been upended by this cataclysmic disaster.  Pray comfort for the families of the 156 people who have died so far and strength for the close to 350,000 people living in soccer stadiums or muddy refugee camps, bored and stressed and waiting and wondering about their futures.  Pray that that believers all over these islands would rise up to serve them.  Pray that this would be the finest hour of the church in Java.


Our limited help, which can feel so small against such overwhelming need, makes a big difference in the lives of the people we encounter.  On our last trip there we met one family camped out of a church.  They had been living on nothing but coffee for a few days as their village wasn’t on the government’s danger zone list and they had lost their jobs so there was no daily income.  They were still evacuating themselves to lower elevations every night out of fear of another eruption, and were feeling weak with hunger.  The food that we brought to them was an urgent answer to their prayers.


We are making plans now for a follow-up trip at the end of this month to this dynamically changing region with its shifting centers of need.  We want to bring more medicine, food, supplies and practical help to these displaced people, whether in the rebuilding stage of their villages or the wait-it-out stage in the refugee camps.  That depends on Merapi and whether her fury has subsided yet.


How much help we bring them depends on you.  If you would like help us purchase relief supplies for this next disaster relief trip, please make out a check to “Mustard Seed International” and write “Mt. Merapi Response Fund” on the memo line.  Then send to:


Mustard Seed International

P.O. Box 20188

Charleston SC 29413


Thanks for praying for both relief and redemption for people living around Mt. Merapi .  And thanks for walking with those of us serving here in the Ring of Fire.


With Christ,

Mike O’Quin