Nepal (MNN) — The glory of Kathmandu dates back to ancient times. More recent history connected conquering Mount Everest to the Himalayan kingdom. The mystery of the Hindus was stylized in cinema history, too.
Today, much of that is gone. 96 hours ago, the area was hit by the worst earthquake the country has experienced in 80 years. By Monday afternoon (EDT), the death toll had soared past 4,000. Those numbers did not include the remote villages. More than 7,100 people were injured in the quake with tens of thousands of people left homeless. Joe Handley with Asian Access says after the major quake, there have been dozens of severe aftershocks. The scene, as described by A2 partners: “Buildings falling down, right and left; many churches have been destroyed. Many pastors’ homes have been destroyed. They’re just looking at their people, seeing the devastation roll out.” Death tolls are expected to exceed 5,000.
In an earlier MNN story, Gospel For Asia shared concerns that a great number of the victims could be Christians. Handley explains, “The Nepalese church meets on Saturday instead of Sunday, so the earthquake struck right as everyone was in the middle of church; so they rushed outside, only to see the devastating impact on their country.”
Tens of thousands are homeless. Makeshift tent cities have sprung up, although stormy weather forecasts and dropping temperatures adds misery to equation for survivors. Nepal’s government is begging for help. “They’re worried about water shortage, food shortage, and electrical shortage. Many of the hospitals have fallen apart, so medical care is a huge problem.” Handley adds, “Doctors in the city estimate that they need a thousand more beds just for the initial needs in Kathmandu.”
Early recovery estimates are rolling in long-term economic costs in excess of $5 billion — around 2% of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — which, in a word, is “devastating.” The A2 church network is mobilizing, even though many of the leaders are experiencing loss, themselves. “The pastor who was talking to us was from a village halfway between Kathmandu and Mount Everest. He said his village was completely leveled. He lost his home.”
However, this isn’t the first time A2 has dealt with natural disaster. “We just went through this with the huge disaster that hit Japan and how we were able to see churches mobilized to be the body of Christ,” Handley explains. That experience taught the ministry how leadership training and personal investment in relationships in the name of Christ come together to make recovery real, on a timeline no government organization can match.
Under the Pray, Give, or Go banner, Handley says prayer is key. “We’re praying that this disaster could have profound spiritual impacts. We know that that starts from meeting physical needs–just being the hands and feet of Jesus.” Giving and Going are connected right now. “Right now, all the reports I get [indicate] that they just need the experts in. We’re holding back from sending people, at this point, trying to get aid and supplies and funding into the churches to be able to be those ‘hands and feet of Christ.'”