Ram Singh, a seminary graduate in Nepal vividly recalled how his sisters were in church when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on April 25. As the church collapsed around them, they were completely buried under the rubble, along with 45 other members of the church.
Slowly Ram’s sisters crawled toward a small light and eventually escaped with only minor bruises. Unfortunately, their pastor and 16 other church members did not survive.
Ram’s story is not different from those of millions of others who were affected by Nepal’s largest earthquake in more than 80 years. In the midst of this tragedy, however, the Christian Reformed Church is sharing God’s love with people in Nepal.
Hearing of the need for food and other assistance from people like Ram, World Renew combined its expertise in international disaster response with the well-established networks of Christian Reformed World Missions’ staff in Nepal to respond quickly.
“Many people died and many new Christians lost their homes,” said a CRWM staff member in Nepal who leads a network of eight church plants. “Our church members were severely affected. Many lost their homes and had to take shelter under temporary sheds.”
Ram was a teacher at Evangelical Presbyterian Theological Seminary (EPTS), where several CRWM staff serve. This established connection opened the door for World Renew to respond quickly with relief efforts for the homes in Ram’s village and thousands of other households.
It took three days before enough of the mudslides were cleared from the road for Ram to travel to his village. When he arrived, he discovered that two of his relatives did not survive, and almost all of the homes were destroyed.
Through disaster response training and funds provided through World Renew, Ram and a local response team were able to distribute clean water; tarps; and food assistance including cooking oil, rice, and salt to provide the first wave of relief.
“In two villages where we distributed food, 95 percent of the houses were destroyed,” said Pete Diepersloot, a World Renew International Relief Manager working in Nepal. “The distributions went very orderly, and the villagers were appreciative.”
“It looked like these areas had been bombed,” added a CRWM staff member. “Bodies were being pulled from rubble and fear of diseases from the dead bodies was a big factor.”
The assistance given by the combined response team that included World Renew, CRWM, and local church partners, was in many cases the first relief people from these villages received. This made it even more difficult when their limited supplies ran out.
“After everything was gone, we had to turn many people away,” remembered a team member. “That was so heartbreaking. About 70 people had filtered down from the mountains from various villages that we could not feed. No government aid had come yet.”
After the earthquake hit, the dormitories at EPTS were no longer safe to enter. Instead, students had to sleep under tarps while they awaited news from their families and home villages. For some, the news was not good.
“Some of the students lost their houses, and a few of them lost their family members,” said a CRWM staff member who serves at EPTS.
World Renew provided transportation costs for students to return home and supplies for those who no longer had homes. The graduation for students was postponed until August.
Aside from initial restoration, many earthquake survivors need continued healing and support. Fear of further tremors and collapsed buildings returned after the country had a second large earthquake on May 12 (7.3 magnitude).
World Renew expects to provide at least three months of food supplies, tarps, ropes, blankets, hygiene supplies, and water filters to those most in need. It is also coordinating with the Integral Alliance, a global network of 22 Christian relief and development organizations, to address long-term needs for psychosocial support, the reconstruction of homes, and the restoration of livelihoods. CRWM staff will continue to work with churches and individuals in Nepal, providing spiritual support during this time of trauma.
Thank you for your support for the people of Nepal during the earthquakes. Please continue to pray for victims and partners who have been affected by this disaster.