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Aid Leader Calls for Asian ‘Marshall Plan’

An Australian Baptist minister who leads a key aid group says something like the Marshall Plan used to rebuild post-World War II Europe is needed in the aftermath of Southeast Asia’s tsunami disaster.

Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, said current relief efforts will not be enough to sustain recovery.

Costello, former pastor of Collins Street Baptist Church in Melbourne, told the French news service AFP that the equivalent of 100 billion U.S dollars would be needed to rebuild Asia.

“I can only compare it to Europe after the Second World War,” he said, adding “it’s going to take a generation” to rebuild.

Costello’s challenge came as people all over the world gave generously to relief organizations.

For example, First Baptist Church in Rome, Ga., donated $50,000 from a budget surplus to purchase five water-purification systems to provide tsunami survivors in Indonesian refugee camps with clean drinking water.

The church also launched a campaign called “Water for Life” to raise funds for five additional units. Each unit can produce 10 gallons of fresh water a minute.

“We can’t imagine a more Christ-like project than to give fresh water to these who have suffered so much,” said Tom Bennett, chairman of deacons.

Church members contributed $23,200 on Sunday, the first day of the campaign. Pastor Joel Snider said the $50,000 fund-raising goal is the largest mission offering in the church’s history.

The effort is being coordinated with the Atlanta-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, according to a press release.

Volunteers from Texas Baptist Child and Family Services arrived in Sri Lanka to open five new emergency child care centers for the care of children orphaned by the flooding devastation in the country.

Team leader Kevin Dinnin requested prayer for the pastor of a small church where attended worship Sunday morning. The pastor has taken nine orphan children into his home, joining his wife and their three children.

Dinnin said he met another man who was away from his village when the tsunami struck, but he lost all 11 members of his immediate family.

Volunteers from Texas Baptist Men were also reported to be setting up water purifiers, with a feeding team on the way.

American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. asked volunteers to help Church World Service put together “Gift of the Heart” school kits for use in temporary schools and health kits for sanitation.

In addition to his work with World Vision, Costello, whose brother is Australian treasurer Peter Costello, is active in the Micah Challenge, a church-based movement aimed at reducing global poverty backed by groups including the Baptist World Alliance.

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.