By Mark Ellis
After the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Kathmandu, Nepal, police reported more than 4,000 confirmed dead, 7,000 injured and tens of thousands homeless. Authorities say the numbers may rise dramatically as rescuers make their way to remote villages in the Himalayas.
The earthquake collapsed centuries-old temples and triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest and the surrounding villages at the base of the mountain. It was the worst earthquake to hit the impoverished South Asian nation in more than 80 years.
One leader of a Tibetan fellowship in Kathmandu called it “a miracle” that the deadly earthquake struck just before noon, as worshippers were exiting the church building, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission.
The church typically meets for two hours on Saturday morning and thankfully, no one was injured or killed.”Ten minutes earlier and everyone would still have been inside,” said Christian Aid’s South Asia Director Sarla, herself a native of Nepal. “There would have certainly been many injuries, if not deaths.”
At a second church associated with Christian Aid Mission, a Nepalese ministry leader was guest-speaking when the room began to rock. “All of a sudden it hit us, and I was on something like a roller coaster,” Gopal jee said. “The two pastors were just swaying from one side to the other, and we prayed that everything would be OK at the end of the day.”
The quake ended the worship service for about 70 people. They all survived, but the ministry leader and thousands of others are living in tents out of fear of more aftershocks, as he and his team send teams to help those who have lost everything.
Christian Aid Mission has been able to contact the leaders of two out of the 12 indigenous ministries they help in Nepal. A leader in another city reported no injuries among their people, while the other leaders could not be reached because phone lines are down and cell service is not working in those regions. Their status remains unknown at this time.
Fallen boulders the size of cars have made some roads impassable, but because the indigenous ministry teams are familiar with the landscape, they know how to walk to affected villages to provide aid. The needs are overwhelming, however, and they say they need funds for food, water, tents and medicines.
A Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team member who arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, in the early morning hours on Sunday saw incredible destruction, death, and need in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.
“There’s a lot of hurting people here,” said Patrick Seger, the team leader for Samaritan’s Purse. “I saw a number of needs out there, a number of dead people, a lot of structures had fallen. A lot of people lost their homes and lost their incomes. They’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do.”
Samaritan’s Purse is rushing disaster response experts and an initial airlift of 60 tons of relief supplies to Nepal.
Seger spent the day Sunday assessing the damage in neighborhoods on the south side of Kathmandu with a Samaritan’s Purse church partner. With aftershocks an ongoing threat—a 6.8-magnitude one struck on Sunday—even those with intact homes are apprehensive about staying indoors.
“There are a lot of people sleeping out in the streets,” he reported. “They are fearful of the buildings and don’t want to sleep inside. They are sleeping in the rain because they don’t have any other shelter.”
Samaritan’s Purse has deployed a team of disaster response experts, including medical personnel.
“We will help victims with shelter, water, hygiene kits, and other relief, and partner with mission hospital partners. We are sending initial supplies for 15,000 households, and anticipate doing more as the response continues. The medical team and supplies will support mission hospitals that are Samaritan’s Purse partners.”
Nepal has a Christian population of only three percent. Pray that God will use Christian ministries in the wake of this tragedy to convey the love of Christ.