Mark Lewis is director of EFCA Crisis Response. He and his family live in New Orleans, from which he travels to Haiti or Japan or wherever needed, to make disciples and multiply transformational churches in the wake of crises.
Nepal Earthquake Response: Grieving Loss in the Church
The Nepal earthquake death toll reported by the news – now over 7,300 – can seem like just a faceless number, until you hear the stories. George*, a leader with ReachGlobal partner OC International, who visited friends at a non-denominational church in a rural area four hours outside of Kathmandu, and also one of the worst hit locations.
George shared, “When we arrived at the church, I heard the story in full from both Savit* and his oldest brother, Sukrit*. The earthquake hit on a Saturday morning, which is the day for church in Nepal (Sunday is a work day). Savit’s older brother closed his eyes in prayer in church just as the quake began.
As the quake started, people ran out of the church and when he opened his eyes, most everyone was gone. The house next to the church collapsed as well, sending red dust everywhere and blocking out much of the sun. This scared a number of the children, who unfortunately ran back into the church not realizing the danger. Several went in after them including Savit’s sister-in-law, and both his older brothers. The oldest brother got out carrying a child to safety, but the second brother was reaching out to grab his wife who was trying to get their three sons out – he grabbed her scarf only to have it tear in two as the roof collapsed. He was hit in the head and shoulder and stumbled backwards out the door, but his wife and three sons were killed in the collapse. Later, Sukrit, the older brother, dug until he recovered six bodies. Another two people are still missing and presumed to have died underneath the rubble.
“The church was three floors and made of concrete and it literally pancaked flat. It is hard to imagine how it will all be removed. Sadly, there was little we could do to help with this task though it is really on my heart. I would like to specifically help this church to recover and I hope you will help too. At some point, teams of people will need to be organized to help with tasks like this – not to mention the rebuilding.
“We stayed and listened as they retold the events of that day, and then we prayed with these dear friends who have suffered much. We helped with some physical needs by buying them new pots and pans for cooking, and buckets for storing water – they had none as theirs’ were crushed under the collapse. We also left them with about 550 pounds of rice, plus salt, and cooking oil.
“There are, of course, many such churches that are partly or fully damaged and others that are not. They are spread around the earthquake zones and they make for great distribution centers and as places to minister to people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. They are also places through which sustainable and long-term help can impact the community and lives there.
As the global church helps them get up and on their feet, many will be helped and lives will be touched. Yet many of them are difficult to get to and so far, not much help has come. We are now working towards putting together a truckload of reflief for Gorkha — near the epicenter.”
- Sunkrit, and others church members grieving the loss of family,
- This local church’s outreach into the community it serves.
- Recovery and rebuilding of this and many other churches with similar stories.
*Names changes for security purposes.