Tiny Indonesian church prays for tsunami victims on Christmas day

Carita was one of the worst-hit areas (AFP Photo/ADEK BERRY)

A few dozen congregants gathered at a little church just outside Indonesia's tsunami disaster zone on Christmas day to pray for the victims of the deadly disaster.

Anita Sitorus led a sombre service at the Rahmat Carita Pentecostal church near one of the worst-hit areas on the western edge of Java island.

"After this incident, God let us continue to serve the people, and especially this is a chance to serve you God better," church head Sitorus said, a large cross on the wall behind her.

"To serve our brothers and sisters better, to do something for this area for the people who were victims of the tsunami.

"This is the time to say that you God are present in Carita," she added. "You are in Carita, your church is in Pandeglang (regency), in this tiny town."

Indonesia is a Muslim majority nation but it has a Christian minority, with services held Tuesday nationwide to celebrate Christmas -- and pray for those affected by the deadly tsunami.

"This Christmas is different because we're celebrating it during a disaster," Rahmat Carita congregant Eliza told AFP.

"For me, it's a chance to contemplate. God's love is real, we must not forget that."

The powerful tsunami struck Saturday night and without warning, sweeping over popular beaches on southern Sumatra and the western edge of Java and inundating tourist hotels and coastal settlements.

More than 400 people have been killed and thousands more have been displaced, with many left homeless after houses were flattened by the deadly wave.