The Church of the Nazarene in Mesoamerica was hit by Hurricane Eta the first week of November with strong winds and rains, at first impacting northern Honduras and Nicaragua. Shortly after, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, continuing its course and leaving damage to other countries in the region.
Because the meteorological media announced a greater impact in Honduras and Nicaragua, the leadership of Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) of Mesoamerica met with district NCM leaders and coordinators for both countries prior to the impact of the hurricane. At the meetings they gave instructions on how to safely mobilize the church to help those affected. They also had times of prayer.
Northern Nicaragua was the first to feel the effects of Eta. Floods occurred, damaging roads, bridges and houses, and mainly destroying crops. In the first days, more than 20,000 people were evacuated in northern Nicaragua. Due to the overflowing of the Coco River, Nazarene churches, La Carbonera, El Cairo and Motuce are currently isolated.
The Central District office opened its doors to serve as a collection center for basic necessities (non-perishable food, clothing, shoes, among others), as well as some local churches. This will be delivered as soon as there is access to the affected area.
In Honduras there are 9 affected areas. “Thousands of people were evacuated and many others were left behind, which later turned into a desperate search and rescue situation,” said Dámaris Kellogg, NCM coordinator for the North Central Area.
In Puerto Cortez, district superintendent Alex Bardales and a team worked hard to rescue people from rooftops.
12 Nazarene churches in two districts of the country serve as shelters, they are providing food, clothing and more. They also set up a collection center for basic necessities in the district offices.
In Guatemala Eta also caused serious damage. “It was a shock to see all the destruction that so much rain can cause,” said Kellogg.
In the north of Petén, where the community of Machaquilá suffered floods, the Church of the Nazarene welcomed 30 people to whom they gave three meals every day. In the Atlantic District, it rained for 3 days in a row causing the rivers to overflow. The Central Church of Puerto Barrios and the Church “Entre Ríos”, opened their doors as shelters. NCM provided funds to purchase mattresses.
The district superintendent, Mario Pineda made an alliance with SOSEP, an entity of the government of the country, so that they could provide food, while the church works in the organization of the shelters.
In Alta Verapaz, Cobán, there was destruction of crops and floods. There, 12 Nazarene churches are serving as a shelter. The Nazarene Biblical Institute is serving as a shelter for pastors and their families, and people from the community. It is also serving as a collection center for basic necessities.
“The church is very well mobilized in this area.” Kellogg said. They are providing food, clothing and more in the shelters. NCM provided mattresses, masks, hand sanitizer, and will also provide funds to purchase metal panels for the roofs of some houses.
The leadership of the North Verapaz District mobilized the church to open their buildings as shelters.
In the South Verapaz District, a church is housing people. The Tactic Central Church brought food, clothing, and hygiene products to 60 people, and for 6 days they took food to different shelters in the town. The Torre Fuerte church also brought food to the various government shelters.
In the community of Raxruhá, the Child Development Center of the Church of the Nazarene houses and provides food to 4 families of sponsored children. In the Central District of the East Strip, the church gave shelter, food, and clothing to 51 people. In the Northwest District, Zona Reyna, Pastor Santos also opened the temple to house 4 families. The church has come together to provide food and clothing on its own.
The North Central NCM team is working with superintendents and district NCM coordinators to make sure they have the help and support they need. Due to travel restrictions, the team has not been able to travel to each affected country. They are collecting medicine, clothing, and non-perishable food at the Nazarene Theological Seminary.
On Sunday, November 8, the team, including a doctor, traveled to the north of Verapaz with three vehicles with crisis care kits, clothing, medicines, and shoes. Due to the damage to the roads this is the only place they have been able to travel to.
“We praise God that the church has moved with compassion. Even after being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are still giving in this time of crisis. The church continues to pray fervently, first praising God because he is good and has been with us. Let’s keep praying for God’s provision, for affected people, for strength, for leadership. We are grateful for the continued support of the global church during these difficult times, ” Damaris Kellog said.
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Source: Dámaris Kellogg, MNC coordinator, North Central Area of the Mesoamerica Region