By Carl Stagner
Ecuador has been suffering since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the country on April 16, leaving more than 25,000 people displaced and more than 17,000 injured. As of late April, the death toll has risen to more than 650, a figure that is expected to increase. An estimated 350,000 people have been affected by damage to homes, businesses, and churches—including Church of God structures. We thank God that none of our Church of God brothers and sisters were killed or seriously injured in the quake.
Reflecting on the aftermath, Global Strategy missionary Jon Lambert writes, “Entire towns have been leveled, major highways have buckled, and landslides occur every day from aftershocks. Recovery will be long and difficult with so much of the infrastructure destroyed. Even after a week, aftershocks are still bringing down already damaged buildings.”
The Disaster Relief Committee at Church of God Ministries is responding. Would you consider helping out financially in the wake of this devastating natural disaster? Immediate relief for Church of God congregations and the longer term needs of rebuilding of churches and homes is currently estimated at nearly $40,000.
The Quevado church and the Concordia church sustained considerable damage, but of all the Church of God buildings, the Tonsupa church was hardest hit. Interior walls collapsed, and a crevice opened up inside the sanctuary, splitting it in half, the consequence of an unidentified fault line running under the church property. The congregation has had to meet in temporary locations since the earthquake. The pastor recently called Jon and Karen in tears over the congregation’s predicament, reporting that their sound system, Sunday school resources, and other church materials had been stolen by looters. The authorities have condemned the church building, and the lot where the church stood is no longer safe. The congregation will have to buy a new lot in the city and relocate.
Jon Lambert reports that the home of the leader of the Concordia church was also damaged. Gloria Solano is a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair. “Gloria’s house has also been condemned,” Jon explains. “She, her parents, and a cousin with two small children are now living in the church building. We are still trying to get estimates on the church columns and Gloria’s house. Probably these both will be in the neighborhood of $7,000.”
Immediate needs include food for earthquake victims and a provisional church structure for the Tonsupa congregation. Ultimately, the Tonsupa congregation will need about $16,000 to construct a new facility. Funds for Gloria Solano’s house are also an imminent need. Additional thousands of dollars are needed to continue to supply food to displaced residents and to repair the other churches.
Please continue to remember the Church of God in Ecuador in your prayers as they minister to the needy while they deal with their own challenges. Please also continue to pray for other earthquake-stricken regions of the world, including Meghalaya and Japan, as disaster relief needs continue to be assessed.
For Ecuador, Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief is providing immediate initial aid. Your help is requested to make it possible for relief to continue and for recovery to take place. Donations can always be made online to the Disaster Relief Fund at http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief/. Donations can also be mailed to Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018; please note that your gift is for Disaster Relief, Project #45.04502.