When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, it was a Saturday. In Nepal, that’s the day when Christians gather to worship. That meant that most churches were full when the ground began to violently shake beneath their feet.
Prakash, the pastor of the Nazarene church outside Kathmandu, said that because everyone in his family was at the church with him, there were no casualties in his family.
“I was preaching when the earth started to shake,” Prakash said. “I told the congregation to stay still and remain where they are, as we were meeting on the third floor. I told them not to go outside because to do that they would have had to go through the lower floors and on the top they were safer."
Hermann Gschwandtner, retiring South Asia field strategy coordinator, was in a Nepal church service during the quake.
”Right in the midst, the building shook, and we were reminded of Matthew 24,” Gschwandtner said. “We wondered whether this is the rapture.”
Prakash said his building did not collapse, "but it has huge cracks, so in the near future we will have to hold church services outside. We can't have fellowship there anymore. But most of our people live in solid buildings that only have minor cracks.”
Not everyone in Nepal was so fortunate.
More than 5,500 people have been reported dead so far, and there are at least 11,000 injured, according to the BBC on April 29, numbers that no doubt will keep climbing.
The country has a critical lack of clean water, which has already resulted in more than 1,200 recorded hospital visits due to water-related disease from drinking contaminated water. The next big fear in the country is a cholera outbreak.
Addressing the critical need for clean water is among the strategies that the Church of the Nazarene in Nepal has decided on as part of its immediate relief efforts. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is partnering with churches in these efforts. NCM Nepal leaders met with Rev. Dilli*, who serves as both the Nepal district superintendent and NCM coordinator, and Eurasia Regional NCM Coordinator Jörg Eich to develop a relief and recovery plan.
They decided to first concentrate on the most critical short-term needs: shelter, water, and food.
To address the serious lack of food in affected areas, NCM leaders in Nepal would like to combine short-term food aid distribution with long-term seed and garden projects — a successful strategy NCM has used in some rural areas of the country to create food security.
The Nazarene Disaster Response team, made of church leaders and NCM staff, traveled to a community called Dharmasthali where NCM Nepal owns a small piece of land, and where a small Nazarene church meets. Seventy percent of the houses there were destroyed by the earthquake, so people are taking shelter in makeshift tents made out of tarp and plastic. The visit was one example of the critical need for providing tents and blankets.
On May 1, the disaster response team began serving in the Sindhupalchock district, one of the hardest hit areas, about 30 kilometers east of the capital city, Kathmandu. The team is providing aid to a community of about 1,000 people where the United Nations estimates 64 percent of homes were destroyed in the quake.
The Church of the Nazarene has more than 300 churches and church plants and 8,000 members in Nepal. Their focus following the earthquake will be to meet the needs of their neighbors, both through short-term emergency aid and longer-term community development efforts — all in the name of Christ.
How to help
Pray for grieving families, pray for vulnerable children and families, pray for those responding to the disaster, and pray for our church leaders and members in Nepal.
To send a prayer or message of encouragement, visit ncm.org/nepal.
Churches and individuals around the world can support disaster response efforts by giving to the Nepal Earthquake Fund. Donations will be used to meet immediate needs, such as water, food, and shelter, as well as long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
To send donations by mail, find your country below.
In the U.S., make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put ACM1549 in the Memo area.
In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put ACM1549 in the Memo area.
In Germany, send your donation to Helping Hands Germany:
Helping Hands e.V. - Gelnhausen, Germany
IBAN DE56 5075 0094 0000 022394
For any other country, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to the NCM Nepal Earthquake Relief.
General Superintendent David W. Graves called upon Nazarenes around the world to pray and give toward efforts in Nepal.