Nearly two weeks have passed since Cyclone Winston laid waste to the island nation of Fiji, claiming more than 40 lives, destroying smaller islands, obliterating homes, businesses and other property, and leaving an estimated 51,000 people in temporary shelters.
Cyclone Winston is believed to be the strongest storm ever to have struck Fiji. In a national address last Wednesday, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama warned his nation that it faces a long and difficult recovery, as virtually no part of the country was left unscathed by the storm.
“Our prayers are with Prime Minister Bainimarama and Fiji’s leaders as they serve those across their nation who suffered loss in this unprecedented disaster,” says Greg Mundis, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions. “The Assemblies of God has more than 400 churches in Fiji, and our pastors and local believers stand ready to help their communities recover.”
Assemblies of God World Missions Pacific area directors Jerry and Karen Jacob report from Suva, Fiji, that communications with the outside world, including Internet access, are slowly being restored in parts of Fiji, but that smaller, outlying islands are still dark. The South Pacific Bible College in Suva also remains without electricity.
Jerry and Karen are partnering actively with leaders and pastors of the Fijian Assemblies of God and with Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Response team. Debris removal is well underway, and hundreds of water filters and hygiene kits have been distributed in remote villages.
AGWM and COH leadership commend the Fijian government for their effectiveness in bringing relief supplies to the Fijian people, and the Fijian AG leadership for their effectiveness in doing initial assessments and categorization of needs.
Reports are pending of further damage to AG churches across Fiji. Jerry Jacob and other leaders are grateful for many opportunities to pray with and counsel those touched by the storm.
“Some pastors Jerry met with the other day just wept and wept,” Karen Jacob says. “They are still in such shock. We are trusting the Lord for many more opportunities to share with people.”
“Our team on the ground has met with village leaders across the storm’s impact zone,” says COH President Hal Donaldson. “At every village they visit they hear again of the devastation. But Fijians are not focusing on the storm. They are so thankful that the loss of life was not greater. Our team reports to me that Fijian AG pastors keep saying, ‘We may have lost everything that is replaceable, but at least we still have everyone who isn’t replaceable.’”
Visit giving.ag.org and click the “Fiji Cyclone” button to help support relief and rebuilding in Fiji.
(Source: AG World News)