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UPDATE: Churches send aid to victims of floods, droughts around the globe

Too much water — and too little — have caused suffering around the globe in recent months.
Church-supported relief ministries are inundated with requests for help in the wake of disasters around the globe. Days after typhoons swept across the islands of the Philippines, an earthquake and tsunami claimed lives in the South Pacific. Record, off-season rainfall in southern India has damaged homes and ruined crops.
Meanwhile, church members in Central America and East Africa face malnutrition and hunger from prolonged drought.
(A list of churches and relief agencies seeking donations follows these reports.)
Danni de Vera watched the streets around his house turn to rivers of mud.
As the rain poured and the water rose, the minister, his son, his mother and his pregnant wife fled to the roof, where they spent nearly 14 hours without food or water, praying for rescue.
Finally, two young men arrived and hoisted the family onto a makeshift raft — an inflatable mattress — and helped them reach a higher rooftop.
“We prayed and cried. It was so dark,” the minister wrote in a Facebook post after the ordeal. “Our only hope is God.”
Now de Vera, who works with Metro Manila Ministries, and other church members across the Philippines face a massive task as they shovel mud from thousands of homes that became swamps as twin typhoons swept across the islands.
Church members have pooled their resources to distribute relief supplies. Several U.S.-based ministries are responding, as is Philippines-based medical mission MARCH for Christ.
“We need your prayers and your donations,” Chito Cusi, MARCH’s president, said in an e-mail to supporters. “We ask you to be the source of ripples of love that will show how God’s people care.”
An earthquake off the coast of the Samoan islands generated a tsunami with waves 15 to 20 feet high, according to The Associated Press. More than 100 people died in the nation of Samoa and the neighboring U.S. territory, American Samoa.
Luaao Soli was born in the nation of Samoa and still has family there. When the waves hit, “my family fled to the jungle to survive,” Soli told The Christian Chronicle, “and they are still living there because our house was destroyed.”
Members of the Samusu church in Samoa lost homes and are in need of tents, food and clothing, Soli said.
Soli is an elder and minister for the Nu’uuli church in American Samoa.
“We have 23 families in our congregation that are out of jobs because the canneries were devastated by the tsunami,” he said. “We still don’t know when they will be back to work.”
Assisting in relief efforts is the Waipahu church in Hawaii. The church has Samoan members — including Soli’s son — and several Filipinos.
“So tragedy in that part of the world strikes close for us,” Waipahu minister David Cady said. The church is taking advantage of Hawaiian Airlines’ free supply flights to American Samoa, collecting canned goods and clothes for the victims.
Members of the Tafuna church in American Samoa continue to deliver two-burner gas stoves, pots and pans, clothing, food, bedding and Bibles to those in need, missionary David Willis said. Willis and elders Tia Misa and Lynn Ashley are coordinating the effort.
Members of the Otomoetai church in New Zealand traveled to American Samoa recently for a five-day work effort among the island’s western villages.
“Their impact on the people of American Samoa will be immeasurable,” Willis said.
Another congregation in American Samoa, the Leone church, also is working in hard-hit villages, missionary Randy English said.
The recipients of the aid “know that the Leone church … is not a large congregation, so they often ask how we are able to do this much,” English said. “We just smile and explain to them that God has blessed us with a wonderful ‘aiga’ (family) in Christ, and that our family from all over the world is concerned about helping them physically and spiritually during this great hour of need.”
After a relatively dry monsoon season in southern India, a typhoon brought drenching rains and floods, killing hundreds, destroying crops and drowning livestock.
“Many of our church members lost their houses and everything they have,” said Vijay Samrat Matta, minister for the Baadavapetta church in Vijayawada. Some refugees from the waters went for nearly five days without ample drinking water, Matta said.
In villages outside Vijayawada, churches have lost meeting places, and members have lost food, clothes and Bibles, minister N.V. Dass said. 
“Many areas where we have carried our work of service are now under great danger of flood,” Dass said.
Workers with the Jack Nelle Institute near Vijayawada looked for church members left homeless by the floods, said K.B.B. Chandrapaul, who oversees the ministry training school.
“We tried and located some who are members of the Lord’s church,” Chandrapaul  said. “We are planning to help them with food supply immediately.”
Amarillo, Texas-based Christian Relief Fund is collecting donations for relief.
“Our workers have discovered a village near the city of Vijaywada where there are 800 families who have lost everything,” said Linda Purdy, executive director.
In Guatemala, this year’s rainy season did little to quench parched farmland, Alejandro Lopez-Chicheri, a spokesman for the World Food Program, told The Miami Herald.
“It’s not a hurricane, but it is an emergency — a slow-moving emergency,” Lopez-Chicheri told the Herald.
Searcy, Ark.-based Health Talents International, a medical mission that serves Guatemala, is collecting funds to provide food relief there.
“Health Talents has partnered with some local churches in Guatemala, matching their contributions,” Executive Director Rick Harper said. Workers with the ministry have delivered truckloads of food “and we will continue working to help as many families as we can.”
In drought-stricken Kenya, crops have dried up, herds of livestock have died, and an estimated 3.8 million people are in need of food aid, according to the United Nations.
Groups including Louisiana-based White’s Ferry Road Relief Ministries and Healing Hands Internaitonal are accepting donations to help the people of Kenya.
“Not many are talking about the food shortages in Kenya, but they are very close to famine in this part of the world,” said Alisa Van Dyke, marketing director for Healing Hands. “We have sent funding to three regions of Kenya to purchase food, but more importantly we have begun making plans to bring food sustainability workshops to the people of Kenya so that they may learn to overcome famine and drought for the long term.”
Though their members suffer, churches in both nations continue to evangelize.
In Kenya, “in spite of problems the churches continue to flourish,” missionary Ken Beckloff said, “and our brethren are increasingly active and reporting great success.”
PHILIPPINES: Metro Manila Ministries, P.O. Box 47261, Wichita, KS 67201-4726, www.metromanilaministries.org.

PHILIPPINES: Rapha International
, 402 Blue Smoke Ct. W., Fort Worth, TX 76105, www.raphainternational.org, (817) 536-3383.
PHILIPPINES: Body and Soul (BandS) Ministries, P.O. Box 1926, Colleyville, TX  76034, bandsministries.org.
PHILIPPINES, SAMOA, INDIA, KENYA: White’s Ferry Road Relief Ministries, 3201 N. 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71291, www.wfrchurch.org/relief.
SAMOA, KENYA: Healing Hands International, 455 McNally Drive, Nashville, TN 37211, www.hhi.org, (615) 832-2000.
SAMOA: Waipahu Church of Christ, 94-447 Apowale Street, Waipahu, HI 96797, (808) 677-4222.
SAMOA: Forest Park Church of Christ (sponsoring church of missionary Randy English), P.O. Box 1405, Forest Park, GA 30298, (404) 366-3820.
SAMOA: Tafuna Church of Christ, Box 326, Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799, [email protected].
INDIA: Christian Relief Fund, P.O. Box 19670, Amarillo, TX 79114-1670, (800) 858-4038, www.christianrelieffund.org.
INDIA: Webb Chapel Church of Christ, 13425 Webb Chapel Road, Dallas, TX 75234, (972) 241-3293.
GUATEMALA: Health Talents International, P.O. Box 8303, Searcy, AR 72145, www.healthtalents.org, (501) 827-9778.

  • Feedback
    This is a superb article about the recent disaster that struck my country. I so appreciate your concern and prayers for those that suffered immensely from the flood. There is so much to do; and so few of us to serve.
    Gigie Carranza
    Indang, Cavite
    Quezon City, Metro Manila
    October, 30 2009

    Thank you so much for posting my ordeal. Please pray for us as we start rebuilding new lives in Marikina Churches of Christ.
    Danni de Vera
    Marikina Church
    Marikina City, Metro Manila
    October, 28 2009

    Thanks for posting what is happening in the Manila area. We are trying to help them rebuild one day at a time.
    Remy Kingsley
    Northside church of Christ
    wichita, KS
    October, 27 2009

    As always, a job well done on updating readers about the tsunami relief efforts in the Samoan islands.
    David Willis
    Tafuna Church of Christ
    Iliili, American Samoa
    American Samoa
    October, 27 2009

Filed under: International

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