As if things in Nepal weren’t already bad enough, early on Tuesday morning a second, massive earthquake hit, 47 miles northeast of the capital Kathmandu. Not as powerful as the earthquake that cost over 8,000 lives last week, it was still powerful enough (7.3-magnitude) to cause considerable damage and loss of life – the scale of which is still not fully apparent.
The areas affected worst seem to be the districts of Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk in the foothills of the Himalayas. Access is difficult at the best of times, and it may be days or even weeks before the most remote communities are reached.
CMF has twelve members already working or visiting in Nepal right now, helping with the medical response to these earthquakes. One shared the tragic story of the survivors of a Nepali church who were meeting in a third floor rented room as the first quake struck.
‘When the quake hit, the back wall started shaking down toward us. We kneeled down and prayed. Some ran out the door and into the stairwell. Those who ran away lost their lives. Those who stayed lived. We thought this was The End, that the Lord Jesus was coming back…’
Out of a congregation of 65, eight were injured enough to need hospital treatment and seventeen died, including the senior elder and four more of his family, and the senior pastor and two more from his family.
One badly injured survivor related how the pastor gave words of comfort to him as they were crushed next to each other under the rubble. As the pastor lay dying he said ‘Now my old hands are already cold. I may leave very soon. You will be definitely alive and someone will come and rescue you. You need only do the work of God. You must be filled by the Holy Spirit and you will do greater things in the future.’’
Another member, working for an international aid agency reported how he and his family had been out hiking in the hills when the quake struck.
‘The enormous bang of the earthquake hit. We crouched to the ground huddled tightly and my wife prayed fervently as my daughter cried. A house nearby swayed back and forth, and villagers ran for cover. After a few minutes the shaking stopped and we headed to the middle of a muddy field and sat on our waterproofs. I received an SMS: “Section heads please account for staff and family members”.’
‘I had my satellite phone and mobile and although reception was intermittent I was able to account for our health team. Thank God they were all safe.’ Upon returning to Kathmandu, they found their apartment devastated beyond repair.
Another member related how the first quake had affected everyone in the days afterward. ‘Any loud noise can set us on edge – into flight or fight mode. Our neighbour’s compound is busy with trucks coming and going as part of relief efforts – but they set our windows rattling which sends us running to check if everything else is rattling too or just straight outside. Our shoes are outside these days so we don’t have to waste time putting them on.’
‘Each face we meet afresh after the event is such a joy – both expat and Nepali. ‘How are you? Your family? All safe? And your house?’ are the first greetings. There is the joy to see each other and the sadness at the enormity of what is going on. We are all humbled to be alive, to have water to drink and to wash with, to have food to eat, to have shelter…’
‘Words that have encouraged me are, ‘Underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33:27) as well as the beautiful Psalm 121. We have to praise our Maker and trust for his healing.’
Please continue to pray for the nation of Nepal and those who are working with the Nepalese people to help them rebuild and cope with the aftermath of these two massive earthquakes. And please pray for our members, working with Christian and secular organisations across the country.
The Kathmandu International Christian Congregation (KICC – an international church in the capital) is channelling donations through the existing Aid Distribution Group (ADG), which seeks to support the church community and the ministries and NGOs run by those in the congregation. If you want to give or would like more information please email or visit the KICC website.
If you want to give to support the ongoing relief and rescue effort specifically through organisations with which our members are working with, here are some useful links.