Churches of Christ are distributing food and assessing needs after recent natural disasters in the Philippines and India.
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake
on the island of Bohol, Philippines, toppled historic cathedrals and shopping malls, killing more than 160 people. The island is home to multiple Churches of Christ. The meeting place of at least one congregation was severely damaged.
The quake toppled historic buildings and cathedrals on the island of Bohol. (PHOTO BY JOHN JUMAO-AS)
Church members in Malaysia and the Philippines traveled to the island days after the Oct. 15 quake to assess needs and begin distributing aid.
“Thousands are sleeping in tents because their homes are either too damaged to return to or they are too traumatized to go back,” said Randall John Uthe, who works with Crisis Relief Services & Training
, or CREST, based in Malaysia. Church-supported nonprofit, Shepherd’s Hill International
, also has supplied relief.
Hundreds — possibly thousands — of aftershocks followed the quake, said Marilyn Jumao-as, a member of the Compostela Church of Christ on the nearby island of Cebu. Many homes are unsafe, and drinking water is in short supply.
“What is very motivating, despite all these trials, is the caring spirit of every person,” she said. “They look around their neighbors, check on each other and share whatever is available. … Prayer is abundant. Faith is strengthened.”
In India, Cyclone Phailin
, the strongest storm in the region in 14 years, forced the evacuation of 1 million people from India’s eastern coast. The storm made landfall in India’s Odisha state, where Christians have faced persecution by militant Hindu groups in the past.
Nonetheless, the state has several growing Churches of Christ, said Joshua Gootam, an evangelist in Kakinada, India, who has preached in Odisha.
“The church in Berhampur suffered greatest damage,” Gootam said just after the storm made landfall Oct. 12, “as 35 families lost their homes completely. … They are now living in relief camps but plan to meet for worship this coming Lord’s Day.”