This update concerning the recent earthquake in Nepal is from GCI mission developer, Rod Matthews.
At about noon on April 25, a severe earthquake (7.9 magnitude) struck in the central part of Nepal. Its epicenter was about 50 miles northwest of the city of Kathmandu. I was immediately concerned about our ministry partner there, the Himalayan Gospel Church, led by Deben Sam. Deben was able to contact me by email, explaining that the quake struck during their Sunday morning church service. The wall between the children’s classroom and kitchen collapsed, but by God’s grace no children were injured. At Deben’s home, a wall collapsed and windows shattered, yet none of his family or any of the 16 orphans who live with him were injured.
New reports show significant destruction in Kathmandu, especially to older buildings that are largely constructed of unreinforced brick. Deben lives close to the old, historic area of Durbar Square, which has been featured on many news reports due to the collapse of many historic temples in the area.
I told Deben of our deep concern, and our prayers for the people of Nepal suffering in this disaster, especially his church members and extended family. The three-month-long Bible school he has been conducting in his church building for young leaders from rural congregations is drawing to a close. We hope that none of those attending have suffered loss.
On April 27, I received this update from Deben:
This afternoon we got electricity in our area. There’s not so much damage in our area, just cracks in the building and collapsed boundary walls. The news reports shortage of the food in the market, but I don’t think so because most of the shops are closed. My wife has already stored food for a month so we have no present shortage.
By the grace of God, my family, children and the whole congregation are fine. But it is very bad news that several other churches in the area collapsed with members trapped inside. Most of the people in Kathmandu are camped in the streets, stream-beds, or wherever they find an open place. We are distributing water and instant noodles to the people who are staying in the area surrounding our church.
Some people are still alive but trapped under collapsed buildings. In some areas the dead bodies are still not taken out and the whole area has begun to smell. You may guess how much need there still is here. Rescue teams are unable to reach many of the remote areas. Many have died and there is a lack of tents, food, etc. for those who are alive—most of the food and clothing was buried in the earthquake.
I have sent funds to four pastors in affected areas so they can buy foodstuffs from local markets and distribute it as emergency relief. Our team in Kathmandu is ready to do the same in the city and surrounding areas. We are negotiating about vehicles, food, tents and blankets as well as rooms for storing the goods. I have already sent the team into some places to determine the exact situation. Please pray for us and our relief efforts.
Deben mentioned that there are constant aftershocks in Kathmandu, numbering well over 60 when he wrote. One was magnitude 6.7, a major quake in itself. The photos included in this update were taken by Deben in Kathmandu near where he lives.
GCI is in the process of sending emergency funds by electronic transfer to Deben to give him a greater capacity to provide for the needs of those affected. Your prayers, love and concern are much appreciated by Deben, his family, church team, all the believers suffering in this catastrophic event, and surely by everyone who is a material recipient of the love of God expressed through the aid and service provided by these brothers and sisters in Christ.
GCI Disaster Relief Fund
From time to time we’re contacted about helping members impacted by major disasters like the recent one in Nepal. If your congregation has a heart to help members in this way, probably the best way to do so is to send donations to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund was established to help provide members in disaster areas with emergency needs such as food, water, medicine, clothing, temporary housing, home and/or church hall repairs, temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency needs. Monies received into the Fund that are not immediately needed will remain in the Fund to be allocated in future disasters.
In previous years, money from this Fund has been used to help members recover from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, storms and flooding in Bangladesh, an earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands, typhoons in the Philippines and an earthquake in Haiti.
On behalf of all those who have been helped by the Fund, I wish to express sincere appreciation to the congregations and individuals who have generously provided financial assistance.
If your congregation would like to donate to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund, your treasurer can set up a one time or monthly donation through the GCI Online system (http://online.gci.org) by logging in and selecting Church Giving under the Treasurer tab.
If your congregation prefers to send a check, make it out to Grace Communion International, indicating on the memo line that the donation is for the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. The donation should be sent to:
GCI Disaster Relief Fund
Grace Communion International
P.O Box 5005
Glendora, California 91740