An Iowa congressman leaves today, bound for Indonesia and other nations hit by the December 26th earthquake and tsunami. Congressman Jim Leach is leading a congressional delegation that’ll be touring the region.”I’m looking at this trip as a dual mission,” Leach says. “One to see first hand what the damage is and to get a perspective from people in the field what is necessary and how to proceed, and then secondly to make it clear to people in the region that the United States of America is ready to respond with compassion and commitment.” Leach hopes to spread the message that not only is the U.S. government responding, but American citizens are donating mightily to non-governmental groups that’re helping the region’s tsunami victims. Leach says the significant role of faith-based institutions and non-profit groups in America makes our society unique. “Everyone is rallying to one of the largest natural disasters in modern times,” Leach says. Indonesia is the world’s largest muslim country, and it’s a democracy, which makes it strategically important according to Leach. “It has accomplished in the last year one of the most successful democratic elections in modern times — a higher percentage of people participated in Indonesia than in the United States. It’s elected a very competant government,” Leach says. “On the other hand, it’s also quite a poor society with many difficulties, one of which is an on-going rebellion.” The hotbed of that rebellion is centered in a province that was hard-hit by the tsuami. Leach says the disaster may overwhelm political differences and provide the basis for political reconciliation. He says that kind of reconciliation may also happen among previously-feuding countries that are responding to the crisis.