When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake ripped through Kathmandu, the capitol city of Nepal, on April 25, 2015, it sent deadly tremors through neighboring countries. Dozens of aftershocks followed, including one of 7.3 magnitude only 17 days later, on May 12, swelling the number of dead and injured. People living in Kathmandu were left shaken; thousands had perished, tens of thousands were injured and millions were homeless.
GFA workers, pastors and missionaries who lived in areas demolished by the earthquake rescued people trapped in rubble, organized water distributions and hot meals, and provided essentials, such as tents and bedding, to displaced people. GFA disaster-relief teams mobilized to rural mountain villages, in partnership with the government, to bring aid. GFA World International offices broadcasted the news through email, social media and radio, inviting believers to support relief efforts.
Ministers Needed Ministry
After months of intense work, GFA ministry leaders in Nepal sensed their pastors and missionaries needed a break—a break to grieve their own losses as well as to receive refreshment and encouragement.
On July 21, a three-day conference began with 170 pastors and missionaries from 19 districts severely affected by the earthquakes attending. Bishop Antonius Mor Eusebius, leader of GFA’s work in Nepal at the time, opened the conference themed “Good Steward.” He encouraged the brothers and sisters from 2 Timothy 1:9–10, reminding them of God’s call on their lives.
Bishop Antonius was no stranger to the emotional toll the earthquake had wrought. On the day of the earthquake, he walked through the wreckage of Kathmandu, tears streaming down his face as he helped injured people to the hospital.
He knew the hard work and sacrifice of the men and women at the conference. Their lives and service were a demonstration of God’s life in them and brought glory to His name.
Other speakers shared the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the earthquake. In many districts, local congregations had lost family members, beloved believers, homes and church buildings.
“We have no land, no church building,” one pastor shared. “A rented room also could not be found because of the quake. We and the believers are sad.”
But each speaker also shared how they saw God moving in these difficult times. It was evident through their testimonies that God was with His people in the devastation. Some reported experiencing God’s grace and love in new ways. Others talked about a sense of security in the Lord that had come when they lost everything else.
“God is giving us blessings: His grace, love, security, and mercy on our family and church,” shared one GFA worker.
Recharged to Reach Out Once Again
The reports led to prayer times, during which each participant could share their own trials and triumphs of the past months. Small circles formed with clasped hands, and the room grew loud with prayers. Stories of difficulties, fatigue and provisions allowed pastors and missionaries to share the experiences of ministry that they often carry alone.
One GFA pastor, Kurunamay, had been distributing food and clothing to his neighbors in the aftermath of the earthquake. Along with these practical items, he prayed for God’s peace and comfort to meet the inner needs of these people who had lost so much. His ministry, and the joy he displayed in the midst of such difficult circumstances, had a huge impact on people’s lives.
Pastor Kurunamay was thankful for the conference.
“I am happy to … share blessings, complaints, challenges, prayer points and to pray with one another,” he said.
“I am encouraged, recharged and reenergized,” another pastor shared. “I knew the importance of reporting [and now] I have become mentally and spiritually strong.”
As the conference ended, leaders encouraged workers to continue the work of the ministry, faithfully serving God by serving people. Bishop Paulose Mor Onesimos taught from Luke 6, how Jesus did not turn needy people away when they crowded around Him. Now, Bishop Paulose said, these brothers and sisters had the privilege of returning home and being the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities that needed His healing touch.
The bishop encouraged attendees to use their gifts to serve their communities and to identify the skills and talents of believers in their churches and encourage them to use those gifts to bless others.
Everyone knew rebuilding would take a long time and the people would need help and support. Recharged, the participants were ready to continue walking with their communities through the challenge of putting their lives back together.
The conference ended with commitments to continue relief efforts, especially helping the vulnerable and poor rebuild their lives.
“The conference [was] very blessed,” Pastor Ohas shared. “We got the opportunity to share God’s amazing work and blessings, complaints, expectations and prayer [requests] with each other. I am very happy and encouraged to participate in this conference and thankful to the diocese for organizing [it].”
GFA workers have faithfully helped their communities rebuild in the wake of Nepal’s 2015 earthquake. And they continue to be there for communities that suffer natural disasters like tsunamis, cyclones and flooding. Because GFA workers live in the communities they serve, they are there long term and can continue ministering to people for years as they work through the emotional toll of such experiences.