hen the news of the 7.5 earthquake on Sakhalin Island broke early on a late-May morning, millions around the world were still asleep and millions more read about it over their morning coffee and wondered drowsily what they could or should do to help.
But another group the emergency relief workers of the world had already gone into action and among them were members of the Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers Corps, parishioners from many walks of life who dedicatedly put their religion to practical use in daily life.
Scientologists in Moscow immediately contacted the Russian Ministry of Emergency and city and hospital officials in the area to volunteer their services to assist the shocked and wounded survivors. Volunteer Ministers were flown on a Ministry of Emergency plane from Moscow to Khabarovsk, a city on the mainland close to Sakhalin.
The ministers split up between the hospitals in Vladivostok, where many of the wounded had been taken, and the oil town of Neftegorsk the worst-hit part on the northern tip of the island where the quake had reduced 17 apartment buildings to rubble. Only one third of the population remained. Two thousand people perished.
Working alongside doctors in Neftegorsk, the Volunteer Ministers comforted the injured, the bereaved and those searching the rubble for relatives. But they did more than just provide comfort. They also gave Scientology assists to the rescue personnel and to the mayor of the ruined town, who counted many friends among the dead.
An assist is part of a body of spiritual technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard to help the individual confront and alleviate mental, physical and spiritual trauma. There are a variety of assists, but all are simple, straightforward procedures that recognize and acknowledge the spiritual nature of an individual and orient him to his body and his environment, with immediate and dramatic results. Assists are but one small portion of the entire body of Scientology religious technology, but their use is widely applicable and their power great.
For example, a man with severe swelling and bruises covering his face, head and body was given a touch assist a simple procedure in which a persons awareness is increased so he can help his body recover from the injury. In the course of the assist, the contusions and pain gradually subsided.
A woman hauled from the rubble had lost every member of her family and was severely distraught. Unable to eat or sleep for several days, she received an assist from a Scientology Volunteer Minister and soon was able to eat and sleep again. She also was relieved of her shock and grief and started to help those around her by preparing food for them.
Disaster relief organizations across the globe have called on Volunteer Ministers in times of crisis.
In the wake of the tragic earthquake which struck Kobe, Japan, in January 1995, Volunteer Ministers played a vital role in restoring calm.
So impressed was he with the results of the assists, one top Neftegorsk official wrote to the Ministry of Emergency about the Volunteer Ministers. His report ended with the recommendation that, I consider the work of this group very necessary and useful, and I request to include specialists of Dianetics into the brigades going to places of catastrophes and emergencies.
The Deputy Commanding Officer of the military for the region wrote the following:
In July of 1995, the specialists from the Hubbard Humanitarian Center worked with members of the 187th rescue brigade of the Far East Region....
Methods were shown to relieve stress when under long pressure. We now deem it absolutely necessary to include trained Dianetics specialists as part of the rescue teams to deliver help in emergency situations and also to increase the workability of the rescue teams.
Following the actions in Sakhalin, the Department of Civil Defense in the Republic of Georgia proposed a contract with the Russian Ministry of Emergency. This contract provides that in the event of a disaster in the Republic, the Ministry of Emergency will send Volunteer Ministers there from the Hubbard Humanitarian Center to deliver Dianetics technology and assists to those in need.