Support for Global Disaster Relief Drops as Headlines Fade

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Disaster Relief, Global Strategy

By Carl Stagner

Twelve. That’s the staggering number of major disasters across the globe where environmental, economic, and sociopolitical situations have activated decisive response from the Church of God in just the first five months of the year. In partnership with ministries of the Church of God on the ground, Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief and Restoration is intentionally empowering local churches to bring help and hope to the neighbors they already know and love. Sadly, whether the devastating wildfires in Chile, the destructive flooding in Pakistan, or a host of other dreadful calamities in various parts of the world, most disasters fade from the headlines in a clickbait world. Unable to compete with sensationalized and agenda-driven content, crises plaguing our Church of God sisters and brothers don’t always receive the attention necessary to inspire generous support. A brief survey of the present disaster landscape invites pastor and parishioner, leader and layperson, to pray, to advocate, and to give.

In southern Brazil, torrential rains caused widespread, deadly flooding. With approximately 150 confirmed fatalities and more than 120 people missing, in addition to the displacement of 160,000 residents, this ongoing disaster is going down as one of the worst in history for the Latin American country. The affected area is home to two Churches of God, and an estimated 20 percent of households belonging to these congregations are directly affected by the damaging flooding. Working with the Church of God in Brazil, a thousand hygiene kits, as well as a thousand pillows and blankets for displaced persons, are being assembled and distributed. It only takes $2 to equip the Brazilian Church of God to purchase and distribute a single pillow.

In Chile, wildfires have not only claimed potentially hundreds of lives, but also destroyed approximately 30,000 homes. In partnership with the Church of God in Chile, Church of God Disaster Relief has responded by supporting onsite collection and distribution of basic necessities for displaced families. Meals, supplies, and care packages for children are among the items supported by funds donated to Church of God Disaster Relief. Assistance has already been marked for some fifty families. Just $6 provides a care package for one family.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), violence from the M23 rebel army, and many other rebel armies, has left over five hundred Church of God families displaced. In partnership with Rev. Noel Barumwete, who serves as national leader, as well as others from the leadership team, food provisions are made possible to these displaced families. Only $20 covers provisions for one family—including corn flour, cooking oil, rice, sugar, salt and soap.

In Haiti, sociopolitical unrest and related inflation have spelled disaster for locals, including our Church of God sisters and brothers. Via the Church of God hospital at St. Ard, Church of God Ministries has offered assistance for recovery from a cholera outbreak late last year; partnership has also provided vital access to healthcare. In support of the St. Ard school and church, Disaster Relief has ensured three hundred children and families in need the most are being offered meals. A gift of $85 covers 10 percent of the cost associated with these critical ministries in St. Ard, Haiti.

Critical economic downturn is proving exceptionally challenging for 150 Church of God families in India. The unexpected closure of the tea garden where they earned a living has resulted in not only uncertainty, but also desperate need among the now unemployed. Families, including children, have resorted to dangerous (and, too often, deadly) collection and selling of ammunition. A gift of $25 equips local pastors to purchase food and hygiene provisions for one tea garden family.

Though more often in the headlines than the aforementioned disasters, the war between Israel and Hamas inspires the Church of God to respond. Two million people have been displaced, and funds are still needed to help extend the reach of the Movement. While there are no Church of God congregations in Israel or Palestine, Global Strategy remains in communication with the Church of God across Europe and the Middle East to assess needs and equip local believers to respond with the compassion of Christ. Donations for this crisis response will be stewarded by the Church of God in Europe and the Middle East as specific needs and opportunities arise. Right now, support is being sent to Church of God leaders in the region who are diligently serving men, women, and children displaced by the war.

Tornadoes have proved particularly potent this spring across much of the Midwest, including, but not limited to, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. March saw an especially severe outbreak of tornadic activity that affected families belonging to Church of God congregations. While no Church of God facilities were affected directly, several local congregations began facilitating relief ministries and three service teams were commissioned to assist hurting communities. All donations specified for this disaster response will be sent to Church of God Ohio (COGO) Ministries to equip local churches and relief teams to serve communities who experienced severe tornado damage.

In Myanmar, unrest and violence continue to plague communities and congregations, as it has since the military coup of early 2021. The “junta” military government has a short, but brutal history of making life increasingly difficult for residents, including our sisters and brothers in the Church of God there, economically and otherwise. Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief continues to walk with the Church of God in Myanmar to provide monthly stipends for seventeen pastors and leaders. On average, a monthly gift of $75 equips a local pastor to provide for their family and continue serving their church and community.

Parts of Pakistan are recovering from yet another round of historic and horrific flooding. The Church of God headquarters in Karachi, Pakistan, hasn’t been immune from the damage. Feet of standing sewage water ruined valuable equipment and property of the vibrant church community. Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief has partnered with national leader Rev. Samuel George and the local church to cover 50 percent of basic restoration costs. Funds are still needed to assist with the replacement of pews, flooring, electrical connections, and plumbing at the Central Church building in Karachi, Pakistan.

In southern Africa, severe drought has decimated crops and put agricultural communities at elevated risk of widespread famine. The Church of God in Zambia and Zimbabwe—under the leadership of Rev. Mailesi Ndao and Rev. Dzingai Guni, respectively—are leading food distributions to reach thousands of Church of God families and surrounding communities. An estimated $20,000 is still needed to fully fund this response. This means everyone has an opportunity to prayerfully and financially contribute! Right now, a gift of $63 provides one family in Zimbabwe with food provisions for three months, helping sustain them until the next potential harvest.

Two years after Russia launched their full-scale invasion into Ukraine, Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief is grateful to remain in solidarity with our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in very tangible ways. Disaster Relief is partnering with the German Church of God to install solar panels and insulation in Church of God buildings in Ukraine where families now shelter. Church of God Ministries has also partnered with the German Church of God to stipend a Ukrainian pastor’s salary so he can continue ministering among Ukrainians displaced in Calw, Germany. Disaster Relief remains in partnership with the Bulgarian Church of God, also, in order to provide language classes and professional counseling services to Ukrainian refugees in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Partnership with Hungarian Church of God continues to equip bi-monthly trips into Ukraine to deliver critical aid including food, hygiene items, medicine, sleeping bags, and generators. Prayerful and financial support is needed to continue empowering these vital ministries in and around Ukraine.

Also in southern Africa, but specific to Zambia and Zimbabwe, cholera outbreaks have brought headache and heartache to schools, churches, and entire communities. Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief has partnered with national leaders Rev. Mailesi Ndao (Zambia) and Rev. Dzingai Guni (Zimbabwe) to decontaminate water basins and bring immediate aid to hurting communities. Additionally, a new Restoration Project in Zimbabwe now walks with affected Church of God communities to install clean drinking water wells and latrine facilities, both of which reduce the risk of future waterborne disease outbreaks. A gift of $520 funds one latrine and $2,530 funds one well.

To come alongside and further equip these vital relief responses, gifts can be made to Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief. 100 percent of your donation goes to assist Church of God communities affected by disaster globally. For current disaster information, click here.

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