It was about 11:30 in the morning on Saturday when a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. The epicenter was about fifty miles from the capital city of Kathmandu, but the earthquake was felt thousands of miles away. More than 1,450 are confirmed dead, but that toll is expected to rise, considering the scope of the destruction. Many thousands are injured, swamping area hospitals who are treating people outdoors. Kathmandu Valley is home to 2.5 million people, and in villages near the epicenter, 90% of the homes are said to have been destroyed. Search and rescue teams have started to arrive from neighboring countries to assist the Nepali government.
At the time of the quake, most churches were in the middle of their Saturday services. Because the Nepali work week runs Sunday-Friday, churches hold their main services on Saturday. The national Wesleyan leader, Pastor Babu Hingmang, reported that the largest Wesleyan church in Kathmandu survived the earthquake and the people in the service were unharmed. He encouraged those in attendance to stay there for safety, as strong aftershocks continued to occur every 15-20 minutes. More than one hundred attenders remained there over Saturday night. It is believed that none of our pastors are among those hurt, but our churches are no doubt affected as countless people have lost their homes.
In the capital, the worst damage and loss of life is in the old, historic section of the city. Great temples and other historic sites completely collapsed along with thousands of homes not constructed to withstand a strong earthquake. The duration of the quake was over a minute and there have been over twenty aftershocks. Thousands of people who still have homes refuse to re-enter them yet, and are spending the cold night outside.
Nepal is less than one percent Christian, but in recent years has been the location of a growing Wesleyan Church movement. Ten JESUS film teams have fanned out across the country (see story) sharing the movie portraying the Gospel of Luke in the Nepali language. In the last year alone, seventeen churches have been planted by Wesleyan pastors and leaders.
General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon calls upon Wesleyan pastors and churches everywhere to pray for Pastor Babu and all the Nepali leaders and JESUS film teams as the church responds in Jesus’ name to the thousands impacted.
This just released video of Wesleyan ministry in Nepal may be helpful as we pray for the Wesleyan churches in Nepal, the ten JESUS film teams, and national leader, Pastor Babu.
[As more information becomes available, watch here for updates.]