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“We’ve just lost our house.”

picture3Darrel heard those tear filled words from his wife Barbara late Tuesday morning February 7, just shortly after the strongest Tornado ever recorded in the New Orleans area cut a 2 mile long, ¼ mile wide path of destruction. The EF3 tornado damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes,  creating a massive field of debris and leaving hundreds of post-Katrina survivor families again reeling from disaster.

It’s hard to fathom the damage of this event alone, but to know that this neighborhood sat for 6 weeks under 5 feet of muddy murky water after Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005 makes it that much harder to comprehend. For the second time in 12 years, these homeowners face the trauma of losing it all and will now struggle once again to rebuild their homes and lives after another disaster.

picture2As our team assessed the area, they saw Darrel aimlessly walking in front of what had been his home, and approached him. He was visibly moved, and thanked us for being there. He shared how his wife had taken shelter in their bathroom shower, and survived the storm, only to emerge to face the reality that she had just witnessed their home being torn apart around her while she was inside.

She had just buried her mother 3 weeks before and now this. Darrell said, “I am so grateful to God that he spared my wife. I don’t know what I would have done if I had received a call that Barbara was gone.” He struggled through tears to say, “These are just possessions. We can replace all this. You can’t replace life.” He went on to tell us how this was a reminder that he needs to put his faith in God and not in possessions. “I had forgotten that. God is Good and he sent this tornado to remind me of that. I need to find what it is that God wants me to do. He sent you here today, you are doing what He wants you to do. Just talking about this with you and having you listen is feeding my soul.”

As we inquired, Darrell said that he had no insurance to cover the damage,”No. After Katrina the costs went up and we couldn’t afford it. I am the only one working and we’ve had health issues”.

Join ReachGlobal Crisis Response and Urban Impact Ministries as we seek to share Christ’s love in the wake of this recent event.

PRAY: for Darrel and Barbara and the many other families affected by this tornado and facing the uncertainty of what lies ahead; and for ongoing community transformation and church planting efforts in New Orleans.

SERVE: Email respond@efca.org to send a team to help with the tornado clean up and rebuilding outreach, now or in many months of recovery work to come.

GIVE: to this help the families affected by this tornado and ongoing Crisis Response outreach.  or mail a check to:

EFCA
901 East 78th Street
Minneapolis, MN 5542-1300

Designate the check with the memo: Tornado Response 3890

Contact crisisresponse@efca.org for more information and details on how you can help.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

God’s Divine Plan: Haiti-Earthquake to Hurricane to Help

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Seven years. Seven years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, taking more than 300,000 lives and changing the landscape of the country forever. Sometimes it’s hard to believe seven years have passed. While the physical landscape changed with thousands of homes destroyed, roads cracked and broken and cities of tents appeared overnight, the landscape of the church began to change even more dramatically. God had a plan.

When ReachGlobal Crisis Response arrived on the scene after the 2010 earthquake they asked Haitian church leaders what the Haitian church looked like, and their answer was astonishing: “It looks like an American church in Haiti.” Thus began a relationship with Haitian church leaders that has been edifying to the local church and ReachGlobal, but most importantly to God. The Haiti Consortium was formed with a vision to see an indigenous, disciplemaking, and multiplying church within walking distance of every Haitian, which demonstrates and engages in proclaiming the transforming power of the gospel.

Because of this desire to see churches multiplied throughout Haiti, church leaders have been trained in various parts of the country. Astrit and Evaldo, Brazilian Free Church missionaries, wanted to see multiplication of the church in Les Cayes, a town in the southwest corner of Haiti. In July of 2015 they began a relationship with a group of pastors from Port Salut, near Les Cayes. Little did they know that God had far bigger plans for this relationship than just Gospel training for the pastors.
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Then came Hurricane Matthew.

How could anyone know this hurricane would make landfall where God already began such a great work? As soon as roads were passable, members of the ReachGlobal team headed down to Les Cayes, but they were not prepared for what they saw. Devastation beyond imagination. Entire waterfront communities were gone. Roofs were blown off, houses were washed out to sea and the coconut, mango and breadfruit trees, by which locals made their living, were laid flat by the ferocious winds. The mission field that was created following the crisis was laid out before the ReachGlobal team and they knew that God had begun this work far before any of them ever thought of Les Cayes, Haiti.

Psalm 10:14 “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

The local church desired to meet the physical needs of their congregants and of the community in order to build relationships, and then meet the spiritual and emotional needs. The ReachGlobal team came alongside of this church to aid in this process, focusing first on roof repairs, and soon to be engaging in trauma care, kids discipleship and family gardens for food sustainability.

Roof repairs started with the church building itself, because it was being used as a shelter in the days following the hurricane. The church leaders then began identifying those in the community who needed housing help. They first chose the home of a church deacon, who has  an ongoing ministry to people who are oppressed by evil spirits. Then, six more families were given roofs, including a small family of four children.

These children had been orphaned before the Hurricane. The oldest is a boy named Davidson who is 20, his sister Davidlyn, 17, another sister named Davidlan,15, and the fourth sibling, six-year old Christella, who suffers from a disability. They are part of the church and active in the youth group. Their aunt, their deceased mother’s sister, has been appointed their caretaker. Her home is a thatched hut and the kids were staying in a tent.

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The Aunt’s Home

Two short-term teams, from Hope Community Church, in Olympia, Washington, and Grace Evangelical Free Church, from Viroqua, Wisconsin, had the blessing of beginning to rebuild the home for the orphans. Materials are scarce so they used what they had to build the roof structure and salvaged what they could from the home that was destroyed. Tin for the roof was provided by the generous donations of many of you! Immediately following the storm a fund was set up to replace roofs and homes and make a gospel impact for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew. To date $136,611.oo as been been donated of the goal of $300,000.00. Consider a gift to help other families like this return home.

One of the most encouraging parts of this story is the hard work these kids exerted right alongside of the ReachGlobal Teams  each day after they returned from school and helping out at the church. The local church already had a discipling relationship with these children prior to the storm. 

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Salvaging stones for the walls

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Digging trenches for the walls

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Framing and roofing

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The roof almost complete

 

Looking back over the last seven years, it’s easy to see God’s plan for this little family in Les Cayes, Haiti. He knew when the earthquake hit that ReachGlobal would be on the ground within days building relationships. He knew out of those relationships that the Haiti Consortium would be formed and His Word would begin it’s transformational power throughout Haiti. He knew that Astrit and Evaldo would follow His call to train this growing church in Les Cayes so that when Hurricane Matthew hit, there would already be a relationship formed and work could begin immediately to restore the local church and bring the love of Christ to their community. And He knew that this orphaned family would see the love of Christ that transcends all and that His Name would be glorified.
Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.

Short term teams will be needed in Haiti for the foreseeable future. If you would like to send a short term team to Haiti to help share the love of Christ to those in need following Hurricane Matthew, please contact us. 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Give a Gift, Change a Life

The Gospel is just as much about sharing Christ’s truth as it is about caring for those in need. Join with our Crisis Response team as we work alongside our partners seeking to reach Middle Eastern refugees and those affected in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and Cuba with a message of Eternal Hope amid trying circumstances.

This Christmas, prayerfully consider giving a gift to further outreach through one these unique communities:

Clean Water

The gift: $75 per water filter

Give Now – Account code: 39693

Water filters will help provide safe, clean water for both Middle Eastern refugees and those in Haiti and Cuba affected by Hurricane Matthew.

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Kids benefit from safe drinking water  at a ministry center in the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. 

Hurricane Recovery

The gift: $40 per fruit tree

Give Now – Account code: 39693

Family food sources were destroyed in the hurricane – your gift will replace a family’s fruit tree, sustainably restoring their livelihood and ability to feed their family.

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Hurrican Matthew: A staggering estimate of up to 90% devastation of fruit trees, which provided nutrition and livelihood for many rural Haitian families.

Refugee Care

The gift: $50 per care package

Give Now  – Account code: 3983

Help address a month’s basic nutrition needs for refugee families including access to fruits and vegetables, essential kid and pre-natal vitamins for their children, as well as prescription medicines for the ailing.

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To give:

Make checks payable to EFCA, noting Crisis Response: _[cause]_ in the memo line. Send to: EFCA, 901 E. 78th St., Minneapolis MN 55420

Or give online at: bit.ly/giveEFCA

IN GIVING, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE THE ACCOUNT CODE REFERENCED ABOVE

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Matthew Aftermath (Part 1): Cuba

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Wind and storm surge wrecks Maisi.

Finally yesterday, we got to speak with our partner in Cuba, Los Pinos Nuevos (LPN). The initial response team that was deployed headed to Maisi, on the far eastern end of Cuba, and it took them three days to reach the area.  The road to the town was destroyed, so the team had to hike in to assess.

They found that 90% of the homes in the community were uninhabitable. They were the first help to reach the community, and people had run out of food and safe drinking water.   The team carried in food and water, and also basic supplies to make a few simple water filters.  The  local church members were helping one another and sharing what they had with the community.  LPN has asked us to help with desperately needed immediate relief supplies.

Access to safe drinking water is a big concern.  cuba-2aPeople are now having to draw water from nearby streams (note yellow water cans in the photo).  This week, we have a ReachGlobal staff person heading to Cuba with additional membrane water filters, each one able to serve several families.  We will also be doing some initial equipping on the basics of trauma care.

cubaIn Baracoa, another town with an LPN presence, the reports of damage are similar. ‘Ciber  Cuba’shared this video report of the impacts there.  Video Link 

In addition to helping these communities with urgently needed safe drinking water and food, with so many households destroyed, there will be an long term need for essentials like cooking pots and utensils, sheets and bedding, and other physical needs. But LPN also has a vision to reestablish a sense of community, help people deal with their emotional trauma, and invest in families and sustainable community development, all in the context of Gospel transformation. So together, we hope to be able to set up longer term community outreach ministry centers in as many of the affected towns as possible. Learn more about the response goals at http://www.efca.org/matthewresponse

PRAY:

  •  A team is heading back to the affected area this week with more supplies. God, it is a long journey with many difficulties, please give them traveling mercies.  
  • There are so many people with so many needs. Lord, as you multiplied the loaves and fishes, please do a miracle to make the resources sent stretch to meet all the needs. 
  • The people in these affected areas have experienced loss and trauma. God of Peace, proved your comfort to those experiencing fear and the after effects of the storm. 
  • Lord, equip, empower and send Your Church to do Your Work in Cuba.  Prompt us in the US to pray for and give to support the work of our Brothers in Cuba.

Give Online

Mail a check:

EFCA, Attn: Donor Services, 901 E 78th St, Minneapolis, MN 55420.

In the memo line, write: Hurricane Matthew Response – 39693

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

H. Matthew – Positioned by Partership to Respond

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H. Matthews hits Haiti and Cuba.

While we in the US enjoyed a relaxing weekend, our extensive network of ministry partners in Haiti and Cuba, and ReachGlobal staff in the region, spent it trying to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. And today, they are in the brunt of it.

But ‘they’ are people that we know personally, and have had an ongoing ministry connection for years. In Haiti, places that have taken a direct hit include Cayes, the home of P. Alneve, a key denominational leader, and a part of our Haitian Movement Leader Network; and in Port Salut, P. Jean, who is part of one of our pastoral equipping networks.

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The Category 4 storm, is the first major storm to hit Haiti in 50+ years, and into a context that has still not recovered from the 2010 earthquake. The initial reports include the washout of sections of the National Road connecting Port-au-Prince with the affected areas to the south. The good news is that our ReachGlobal staff in Haiti are thus far safely riding out the storm, and will be ready to respond once the skies clear.

In Cuba, the next target for Matthew, P. Yuri and his congregation in the city of Maisi and P. Silvio in Guantanamera have specifically asked for prayer.  The winds and rains have already started and they wrote, “It is a critical area. It looks like we will be heavily hit. We know that God has everything under control.”   

With the US Atlantic coast now also in the cross hairs, ReachGlobal Crisis Response has also begun the process of reaching out to EFCA Southeast and Eastern Districts to begin the early stages of response coordination. ReachGlobal Crisis Response, with our long term focus on the mission field that follows crisis, and network of partner relationships, invites you to join in the response for Hurricane Matthew.

Pray for: 

  • Safety for all those in the path of Hurricane Matthew.
  • The Cuban and Haitian Church as they process how to share Christ’s love to many hurting people following the storm.
  • The churches of the EFCA to have wisdom in how to respond if the storm hits in their areas.
  • ReachGlobal leadership as they assess the storm’s impacts ad determine next steps in this widespread response.

Give: Invest in the work of the kingdom that is accomplished through disciple-making, community development and compassion ministries with a generous gift.

Donate here on-line or Mail a check to:
EFCA, Attn: Donor Services, 901 E. 7th St, Minneapolis, MN 55420. In the memo line, write: Hurricane Matthew Response – 39693

 
 

…but I’m sure we lost everything.

la floodLouisiana is no stranger to heavy rains and storms. It’s a normal occurrence.  But this week was different. 1000 year rains and flooding like this has never happened before.

Gary, one flooded home owner we’ve met explained, “We’ve gone through the flood of ’78, ’83, Katrina, Rita, Issac and Gustav, and have never flooded before. We have about 6 ft of water in our house now, and haven’t been able to get to it. I’m not sure when we will, but I’m sure we’ve lost everything.”  Gary’s story is one of many, as the impact is staggering.

  • 90 % of the city of Denham Springs, LA is underwater.
  • 40,000 homes region wide are affected, the majority uninsured.
  • Previous record flood levels have bee exceeded by more than 6 feet.
  • 30,000 people had to rescued and 20,000 are in shelters.

P. Lance Bourgeois (Trinity EFC, Covington, LA) has been out working with our assessment and clean-up teams, as this flood has hit personally, close to home. His aunt and uncle, we’re two of those 30,000 rescued.  His uncle said, “The water just kept coming up and up and up. When we let the house, we walked out in water up to our waists.”  They ended up having five feet of water in their home, as did Gary.

And in Denham Springs, the brown, muddy water did not spare Grace Community Bible Church. Pastor Tim, with puddles still on the sopping wet carpet shared that 60% of his congregation have been affected, but that he wants to engage, ‘meeting people in their brokeness’. Our hope is that a steady flow of volunteers and donations will allow us to help this church recover and bring healing outreach to their neighbors.

Though the water is still too deep though to access many areas, it is clear that the worst natural disaster in the US since Super Storm Sandy, will result in a long road for recovery.  Consider partnering with EFCA ReachGlobal Crisis Response, EFCA’s Southeast District, Trinity and other local churches, as we seek to share Christ’s love with those in need.

Pray: for rains to stop, waters to recede, and The Church to be tangibly present to bring hope and restoration.

Give: Donate to the EFCA’s Louisiana Flood Response efforts and ongoing ReachGlobal Crisis Response outreach.

Send a Team:  Email Respond@efca.org.  Volunteers are needed immediately and will be needed for the next several years.

Learn More

 
 

Chicken Missionary

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Brother Darin* and a Nepali Church Planter visit a family

Sometimes an offhand comment really makes your head turn. Brother Darin* is one of our key partners in Nepal. A native of India, he’s been serving as a missionary in Nepal for 15 years, first as a church planter, and now as a church planter coach and catalyst. He started in a rural village with no Christ followers, striking up conversations, drinking tea, serving, and intentionally caring for people. It took almost 2 years, but then an informal small group of seekers developed. From that initial group, 9 churches were planted and now there are over 700 be!ievers in the valley.

Now, with three other denominational leaders, he’s giving guidance to the Nepal Church Planting Movement, a collaboration of Nepali and US churches, ReachGlobal, OC International. This network has been involved in planting dozens of churches since 2012.

During a pause in dinner conversation as he and I shared a meal recently, he said, “You know, I am a chicken missionary.” With curiosity, I replied, “Tell me more,” while thinking to myself, “I’ve been a chicken missionary too, when I’ve been too self-conscious about what others might think to share my faith, or when I’ve not wanted to deal with conflict or….”

“I was commissioned and sent by my church, but when I need support, people sell their chicken for me to have something.”  I so appreciate the humbling lessons I learn from the many national partners I get to serve alongside. A chicken missionary…Living in Dependency; Humility; Faith; Obedience.

Darin told me that as the first church got planted, the people had no money to tithe, so he simply asked them to give what they had. Time. Some skill they had.  The fruit from one of their banana trees. 3 stalks of their bamboo tree. Whatever.  It was a wonderful picture of dependency and people using whatever it was that God had given them to support Kingdom work.

God, help me to be a chicken missionary.

PRAY: Recent law changes in Nepal have made it illegal to attempt ‘convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other’. In recent weeks, 8 ministry workers and a pastor have been jailed for distributing Christian literature under this new law.  Pray for God’s protection for these Brothers and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to flourish to in Nepal.

LEARN: more at www.myef.ca/helpnepal.

GIVE: Donate to Nepal Outreach

*Name changed for security purposes.

 
 
 
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