On Saturday evening the country I call home experienced a 7.8 earthquake. Although the earthquake could be felt here there was absolutely no damage where I live. However, that is far from the case for so many people in the coastal region of Ecuador. The stories that we are hearing (and seeing) of the affected areas are heart wrenching. Stories about children who are now orphans because their parents died protecting them bring fresh tears to my eyes as I write this. The real-life accounts of the areas where people have to go and look at the deceased to identify their loved ones are unbelievably saddening. The official numbers that I am hearing are that around 600 people have died. However, there are many still missing. This does not even begin to mention the injured.
My heart has been extremely heavy this week as I think about and pray for the people in the cities. They have no electricity, no water, and have been experiencing multiple after shocks for days now, including some that qualified as earthquakes themselves. People are sleeping outside even if their homes were not destroyed because they are afraid another earthquake will occur that will destroy their homes with them inside. Ecuador is on the equator, which means it is very hot, and especially so in the costal regions that are at sea level. They have no electricity, no water. People are desperate. The pictures of people standing along side the road begging for a little water for their families are heart breaking.
Even though this earthquake has not affected our area, emotionally it is felt countrywide. Ecuador is not a huge country. Practically everyone in Ecuador knows at least someone who lives in the affected areas. I can’t begin to imagine the pain of not knowing if your family members are all right or even still living. The Spanish teacher at our school told me how her family has had no word from her aunt, her aunt’s children, or her grandchildren. They have attempted to contact everyone they can that might know something, and they have added their names to the registry that helps people find out about their loved ones. This is just one story of thousands.
As I have reflected on this tragedy and prayed for the injured and the families grieving the death of their loved ones, I have thought about what it would be like to go through this. Although the pain felt by all involved is tremendous, I can’t even begin to imagine going through something like this without a very real confidence in our trustworthy God. During our girl’s Bible study this afternoon we discussed how God is a trustworthy God. He is faithful and ever true. He is the creator and sustainer of all. We discussed how we CAN and should trust our God no matter what happens. At one point in the discussion I asked the girls if we can trust God even when bad things like the earthquake happens. One of the girls so rightly responded with something like, “Of course, because He is God. He created everything” Oh! To have the faith of a child. There is so much desperation, so many hurting, so many in need of a Savior. I know my God is bigger than the troubles. I know my God is there even in the sorrow. I praise God that the Word tells me that I can have this confidence.
In the midst of all this hurt, there are many nationals and foreigners rushing to the aid of the victims. My two neighbors are pilots with Mission Aviation Fellowship serving with a local Ecuador mission as pilots usually serving people needing to get in and out of the jungle areas. Both of these men are away from their families as they serve as pilots to fly aid workers into the affected areas. Fellow Reach Beyond missionaries are serving as doctors in the hardest hit areas (also away from their families). Many other friends of mine serving with other ministries are also ministering during this time. Pray for them as they serve. Pray that they will have opportunities to share the good news of Christ as they minister to the physical needs of the hurting. Pray for their safety in dangerous situations due to the overwhelming desperation of the people.
If you are looking for a way to give financially to support the work that is being done to help the victims I have listed two reliable ministries below that are taking donations specifically to get aid where its needed most.
Samaritan’s Purse: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/disaster/ecuador-earthquake/
Reach Beyond: https://reachbeyond.org/ecuadorrelief