Peru (MNN) — As massive earthquakes strike Haiti and Chile, and widespread flooding buries Pakistan and India, it's easy to forget similar tragedies that have occurred in the not-so-distant past. Yet, the survivors of previous disasters have far from forgotten the devastation that continues to affect their lives.
Three years ago this month, a series of earthquakes struck Ica, Peru. Two separate earthquakes–one at a magnitude of 7.9 and one at 8.1–hit the region just minutes from each other. Over 200,000 people in the province of Ica were affected overall. More than 450 were killed.
In addition to losing loved ones, families lost 40,000 in the city of Chincha Alta as a result of the quake. The rest of the world may have moved on after a few months, but many of these families are still rebuilding what was destroyed in 2007.
Since the devastating quakes, the Evangelical Free Church of America has been helping to rebuild. In the summer of 2008, the EFCA sent a missionary couple to Chincha to minister full-time to Peruvians who were still suffering the loss of family, friends and belongings.
Throughout this time, the EFCA has been sending short-term teams to help reconstruct homes. After the earthquakes, many Peruvians had no choice but to move into houses built of woven reeds, which offer them little protection from weather or burglars. Sturdier homes need to be constructed to ensure the safety of struggling families.
The EFCA's short-term teams have built several new homes over the last three years, but there are still some 40 families on a waiting list for new houses.
Nonetheless, God has changed this tragedy into something beautiful. As missionaries have gotten the opportunity to rebuild and to encourage, the doors have opened for several other forms of ministry. Now, mission work in Chincha includes a youth group, church services and six Bible studies. Vacation Bible School for children was also recently introduced to the area.
The Lord is working in the hearts of several prominent leaders within the area and has done great things already, but more prayer and partnership is needed. Pray that many Peruvians would cling to Jesus as their only hope to truly rebuild their lives on a Solid Rock. Pray that God would speak through missionaries and short-term groups. Pray that their visible generosity and care would be a testimony of Christ's love for the people of Chincha.
In order to finish rebuilding homes for families in Peru, more volunteers are needed. If your church or small group would like to sponsor or go on a trip to help in Peru, click here. Most of the homes rebuilt are sponsored by short-term teams, but if you'd like to donate personally to this mission field, check out the EFCA's Adopt-A-Home program.