400 Christians saved from tsunami death in Indonesia?-Unproven!

Four Hundred Christians Were Celebrating Chrismas on a Hill Outside an Indonesian City when the Tsunami Hit…And Their Lives Were Saved as a ResultUnproven!

Summary of eRumor:

The email says that 80% of the town of Meulaboh in Ache, Indonesia, was destroyed by the tsunami in December, 2005.
But the lives of 400 Christians were saved because they had been prohibited from celebrating Christmas in the Moslem city and were on a hill outside the city for Christmas when the waves came.

The Truth:

Getting to the bottom of this story has been difficult, probably because the person who is alleged to have originated it, Bill Hekman, is ministering in an area that was hard-hit by the tsunami and where communication has been affected.

We have not found any independent substantiation of this story apart from the originators of the eRumor.
If there was a large group of Christians who escaped the tsunami because of having hiked up a hill to celebrate Christmas, there has not been any other word of it.
That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen but in a disaster of this magnitude and where everyone from the media to the military were delighted to find stories of survival and courage, it would be a significant story.

Bill Hekman is the pastor of Calvary Life Fellowship in Indonesia.
According to the church’s website, he has been reached by telephone in Meulaboh and has confirmed the story.
The website says that the church has also substantiated the story through an Indonesian pastor and “…several persons with firsthand knowledge.”

There may be some truth to the story, but we’re classing it as “unproven” until we can further information and from additional sources.

Updated 2/18/05