Indonesian Earthquake Kills 34 Kids in Bible Camp Mudslide

A rattled Christian community rallies to aid thousands in Sulawesi displaced by the disaster.

Days after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami leveled homes, businesses, mosques, and churches on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Christians are reeling from the destruction as casualties climb into the thousands—which now include dozens of youth killed at a Bible camp.

Under the rubble of one church destroyed in a mudslide, the Indonesian Red Cross this week discovered the bodies of 34 kids who were attending Pusdiklat GPID Patmos “Jono Oge,” a church training center in Sigi, located outside the provincial capital of Palu.

Another 52 students remain missing from the camp, which regularly hosts youth for worship, teaching, and fellowship. Recovery efforts have been slower in hard-to-reach areas, which lack the equipment to move fallen concrete or dig through the carnage. A Red Cross spokeswoman said she expects the number of dead at Jono Oge to rise as the recovery continues.

The center is affiliated with Palu’s largest denomination, the Indonesian Protestant Church in Donggala (GPID), with around 40,000 members. Last week, Palu teens posted shots on Instagram from Jono Oge, sharing favorite Bible verses and posing in front of a banner reading “From Darkness to Light.”

The quake, tsunami, mudslide, and aftershock have left the Protestant minority in Central Sulawesi—about 17 percent of the 2.6 million-person, mostly Muslim province—scrambling for basic necessities to survive while body bags pile along the streets and the smell of death lingers in the air.

On Tuesday, the official death toll reached more than 1,300, with another 800 injured, and both figures are rising. An estimated 50,000 people are displaced in Palu.

Church leaders who made it through the disaster …

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