Earthquake. Famine. Flooding. The headlines catch attention, and people respond with prayers and donations to emergency appeals.
A few days later, the reporting stops and the event fades from memory. But for those directly affected, it is only the beginning. Mennonite World Conference (MWC) has worked with Anabaptist partners in response to recent disasters affecting member churches. Long after aid money has been spent, the hard work of restoration quietly continues as churches help the community rebuild, regain livelihoods, and recover from trauma.
In 2015, MWC called for prayer and support in response to an earthquake in Nepal of 7.8 on the Richter scale. MWC member church Brethren In Christ Nepal was not heavily affected, but they mustered a disaster response.
Since then, Nepal has been affected by disastrous flooding. Although 75 percent of Nepal is mountainous, more than 50 percent of the population – including most of the BIC churches – lives in the fertile but flood-prone plain area.
“Almost every year, [our church members] are affected either by flood, windstorm, lightning, soil erosion, or drought,” says Hanna Soren of the Brethren in Christ Church in Nepal and the Brethren in Community Welfare Society.
Buildings made of clay with thatch roofs are destroyed in flooding events. Without home or churches, people lack a place to gather for worship and support.
“We are grateful to God for MWC, other national BIC churches, and other partners who facilitated a response over the years,” says Hanna Soren. Visits from the MWC Deacons Commission help “our church members to realize God’s love and care through his global community.”
The Deacons Commission also administers the Global Church Sharing Fund, to which BIC Nepal applied for a grant to rebuild more durable churches.
“Believers of BIC Church Surunga are very thankful to God and MWC. Their [newly constructed] concrete church building was not affected even in the series of floods in 2018 and again in 2019,” says Hanna Soren.
“God’s kingdom is growing even in the midst of difficult situations,” says Hanna Soren. “As our church members experience such natural disasters almost every year, their faith in Christ is strengthened to see God’s love and grace is sufficient for them.”
In 2017, together with MCC, the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB), and MB Mission (now Multiply), MWC facilitated the six-month appointment of Antony Sanchez to assess needs, coordinate response and training, and equip the local churches to serve their communities after severe flooding in Peru.
“We are members of a global family,” says Antony Sanchez. As he worked with those affected by disaster, he remembered, “We are in the hands of God and, at the same time, we are God’s hands to bring his presence and blessings to others.”
Pray for Nepalis badly affected by the floods, having lost their cattle and crops. After water levels subside, there is a problem of safe drinking water and disease epidemic. BIC Nepal encounters barriers to sending funding to some regions due to government regulations. Pray that BIC Nepal would find ways to help send materials to recover and also to rebuild church buildings. Pray for Christ’s Spirit of peace as church members encounter suspicion from Hindu fundamentalist forces in the country. Thank God that they are learning to live on the promises of God found in Isaiah 59:1; 2 Corinthians 5:1–7; Revelation 21:4.
—Mennonite World Conference release