Christians are being encouraged to help those whose lives have been devastated by a killer cyclone.
Cyclone Idai, named after the Shona (a Zimbabwean dialect) word for ‘love’, crashed into south-east Africa on 14 March.
Catastrophic damage was caused to Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, with whole towns, roads, bridges and power lines destroyed and communities trapped.
According to Christian Aid, 480 people have died and more than 400,000 been made homeless with the death toll expected to rise.
The Revd Dr Kevin Snyman, Programme Officer for Commitment for Life, the URC’s world development programme, suggests URC members can heed the instruction to show love and support in three ways:
- to love our neighbours in need through direct giving via the Christian Aid Idai Appeal or the Methodist’s All We Can Malawi Appeal
- to love our planet by working urgently to reduce carbon emissions, like divesting from fossil fuel companies
- to love God through our prayerful, godly actions that confront the systemic injustices that lead to poverty and climate disruption.
‘In Zimbabwe, the storm has added to the woes of drought and existing political tension,’ Kevin says. ‘But the people of Zimbabwe are responding to the crisis with overwhelming generosity by establishing collection centres for food, clothing, and medical supplies.
‘The URC has very close ties in the region. The Eastern Synod partners with the Zimbabwe Presbytery of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, and Northern Synod has links with The Presbyterian Church of Mozambique.
‘A major collection centre has been set up at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Mutare. From there, the goods will be taken into the affected areas with the help of helicopters and planes. In Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, Highlands Presbyterian Church has also been set up as a major collection centre loading goods onto haulage trucks headed for eastern Zimbabwe.’
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church Deputy General Secretary (Mission), praised the relief efforts.
‘Our thoughts are with all those who have been hit by this disaster: those who have lost their lives and those who have lost their loved ones and their livelihoods. Many are still waiting to be rescued and in need of support for their most basic needs,’ Francis said.
‘We commend the work and generosity of our partners in the area and pray that they will be able to access those in greatest need. We too can help, even at a distance, by praying for those affected and for those trying to help, by raising awareness and by giving generously for humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Top picture: Volunteers transferring goods to Chimanimani. Columbus Mavhunga/VOA/Wikimedia
Bottom picture: Flooded homes in Mozambique. André Baptista/VOA/Wikimedia