Peru (MNN) — While the world watches Hurricane Dean churn toward Mexico, Peru continues to count the cost from last week's magnitude 8.0 earthquake. More than 500 people died, 80,000 were left homeless, and 33,000 homes were destroyed.
David and Evelyn Stone are missionaries with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism in Lima, Peru. They just returned from an assessment trip to Ica–the hardest-hit area and one in which they lived and worked for 12 years.
Evelyn says, "50-percent of the people/houses were affected in that area. We have about 15 churches in that area. And we found 3 churches which are [devastated] and need to be rebuilt. Other churches just have small sections that have fallen."
After-shocks continue to hit the region and are shaking damaged buildings, taking even more lives as they collapse.
According to Stone, the disaster is causing other problems. "The other danger in the area is looting. Because of the depravity of man, there are a lot of people taking advantage of the fallen walls. [They're] going into houses and taking what they can. So we need prayer both for the people who have lost their homes and for protection from the people who are looting."
Stone says ABWE and other organizations are helping, but getting aid into the area is difficult because the Pan American Highway is damaged. "We went down with a four-by-four vehicle as soon as it was opened. In places we had to go around where the road's been broken up. And, [there are] places where the traffic is lined up and we sit for hours. That's when there is danger from the crowds of people who are attacking and trying to steal the supplies from the trucks."
However, ABWE was able to bring some assistance, and Stone says the supplies they provided opened doors for outreach. "We were in the center of six house that had fallen, and we passed out supplies. A Peruvian pastor stood there and preached the Gospel to that group, and we could pray with them, we could talk to each individual family. People will be saved through this without a doubt."
Stone says funding is needed to help the victims of this devastating quake. "We are going to funnel help from our mission to rebuild the churches and also rebuild the homes of the people who lost everything. There are many unsaved families around them, as well, who have lost everything, so we'll see how far our help can go."