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DURRES, Albania — Christians made homeless by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake in this Central European nation are nonetheless reaching out to help their neighbors recover.
More than 50 people died, and about 1,000 more were injured as the Nov. 26 quake shook the northwestern coast of Albania, near the city of Durres. It follows a Sept. 21 earthquake that also struck Durres.
“Thank the Lord, the churches in Albania do not have any lives lost, but we had severe damage,” said Alfred Zike, minister for the Adriatic Church of Christ, which meets just a few blocks from the Adriatic Sea.
Cracks formed in the walls of the church’s facility, which also houses the Adriatic Christian Academy.
The quake also damaged the home of Cimi Kafexhiu, minister for the Downtown Church of Christ in Durres. The minister and his family have been living in the church’s building.
“Cimi has also been using the church as a relief point for Durres citizens — church members or not — proving food and shelter there,” said Johnny Vaughan, chairman of the missions committee of the Adams Boulevard Church of Christ in Bartlesville, Okla., which supports the work.
About 15 church families are among the displaced, said Bledi Valca, minister for the Tirana Church of Christ in Albania’s capital. Most of the victims’ physical needs, including shelter and clothing, have been met, Valca told The Christian Chronicle.
However, many Albanians — especially children — will have long-term, counseling needs, the minister said.
The church in Tirana was among the first to respond, sponsoring a special collection for earthquake relief. The congregation collected triple its usual offering.
“That’s still not a lot,” Valca said, “but it’s three times the widow’s mite.”
Other Churches of Christ in Europe, including individual and churches in Italy, have sent funds to help with relief.
The Adams Boulevard church and Valca’s supporting congregation, the Maryville Church of Christ in Tennessee, are collecting funds to help in long-term recovery efforts.
“The whole scene is tragic,” Vaughan said. “The cost of getting the churches back to some state of normalcy is as yet unknown but will be in the tens of thousands of dollars.”
Contributions may be sent to:
Adams Blvd. Church of Christ
3700 SE Adams Blvd.
Bartlesville, OK 74006
Note contributions for “Albanian Earthquake.”
The church also has an online option to receive funds. (Please note “Albanian Earthquake” when making payments through PayPal.)
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