Several weeks ago we wrote about the devastating storm in Tshikaji. A tornado swept through Tshikaji on August 29 of this year and destroyed or severely damaged more than 100 homes. The CPC church in the village was destroyed when a pillar broke and the roof came crashing down. They acted quickly to meet the most urgent needs in the community, and we want to share some of these signs of hope!
In September, with support from Myers Park Presbyterian Church (NC) and First Presbyterian Yuma (AZ), tarps were distributed to all of the 100 families whose homes had been damaged, as well as to the 6 churches of different denominations whose roofs had been destroyed. The chief of the village participated by personally handing each recipient their tarp, and we were moved to see the gratitude on some of the faces. The tornado was indiscriminate – some people who had metal roofs and brick homes had their roofs blown off, while other mud houses with thatch roofs remained intact. Elder Tangila of the IMCK CPC church in Tshikaji expressed his thanks afterward to one of the CPC committee members, “Thank you for these tarps! Now my children and I can sleep safely.”
The following week, at the end of September, with the support of PC(USA), CPC was able to purchase seeds and school kits to distribute in the community. The tornado struck just at the beginning of rainy season, when residents were preparing to plant their fields. When houses were damaged or destroyed, their seed was destroyed as well in the rain and storm. Seeds for planting beans and ground nuts were distributed to all of the families. Two women from the Lubi II CPC church expressed their thanks afterward to a church leader “We did not have hope of planting our fields this year. The seeds you gave us give us hope!” In addition, school-kits containing a back-pack, notebooks, pencils, and pens were distributed to children whose homes were damaged so that they could return to school. Tshikaji, an impoverished village that was overwhelmed and discouraged by this tornado, is finding encouragement and hope in these tangible gifts from the church.
Elder Mutoke of the IMCK CPC church (photo above) spoke as a representative of the village, expressing thanks for the help the church has provided. “We are very happy for the help that has been given to us by our friends in the US. We know that what these friends have done for us is what they do for many people around the world who are in the same situation as we are. They share with those who are in need. We are certainly in a time of suffering but the help that they have given is very significant. Therefore we pray for them that God would bless them and give them more. We express our gratitude to them and say to them, ‘Thank you.’”
The rebuilding process is still a long journey, and life is still hard for members of the community. This is rainy season, and many people’s roofs are still spread on the ground. But small signs of hope help people to persevere. The next goal the church is looking toward is rebuilding the Lubi II parish which was destroyed. Already, gifts from several churches and individuals have provided 20% of the needed funds. Please e-mail us if you would like to know more about the rebuilding process. If you or your church would like to contribute financially, you can do so through the Evangelism Department of the CPC, and designate the gift for “Tshikaji church rebuilding”. We want to stand with our brothers and sisters who are discouraged, and affirm with them that we are members with them of one family, the body of Christ.
Paul writes to the Corinthian believers, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9: 12).