February 26, 2017
Text: Psalm 99
Biblical writers reference natural events and disasters in a variety of ways. This Psalmist communicates the authority of God through the power of natural events that people have experienced – earthquake and cloud pillar. At the same time, God’s authority and power come from God at work within the situation of suffering by answering, forgiving and avenging wrongdoing.
The way we understand the nature of God affects the way we recover, respond and prepare for natural disasters. God does not send specific events in specific times and places, but God does create the world as perpetually in motion and does give creatures real choices that make a difference in the continuing creation of the world for good or ill. That motion and those choices can cause disruption and destruction – natural disasters. Those choices also intensify the results of those natural disasters, especially for the poor, as they are exposed to greater destruction by the event because of less access to resources for preparation and recovery. God also is always present and working within the suffering caused by natural disaster, for the sake of healing and wholeness. God is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer – all at the same time.
Flooding and earthquakes in Ecuador in early 2016 embody these inequalities in the effects of natural disasters. Guided by an understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, the church accompanies disaster-survivors as they build back their communities.
Residents of Sua, Ecuador had already suffered damage to their homes and the loss of household furnishings and livestock to 4-foot-deep flooding in January when the April 2016 magnitude 7.8 earthquake added another layer of destruction.
The back-to-back disasters greatly diminished coastal Sua's fishing and tourism industries, the community's economic base. Many people left Sua because of the devastation, and some families that remained are still sleeping outside due to continuing aftershocks. With support from UCC Disaster Ministries, 33 Sua families will soon have access to flexible financing and training to help them resume their livelihoods.
Global Ministries partner FEDICE ("Faith Speaks") has established "Plan Generating Hope - Sua," which also will ensure secure nourishment by funding a community kitchen to feed 103 children. "This is a wonderful, specific opportunity to collaborate in support of our sisters and brothers in Ecuador, even as it seems the attention of most of the world has moved on," said UCC Disaster Ministries Executive Zach Wolgemuth.
FEDICE reported that the people of Sua "want to keep on doing their normal activities, but they have lost everything. They don't ask for handouts, they simply need a hand up in order to keep on working and getting ahead."
Plan Generating Hope - Sua includes:
- Reactivation of the economy with the creation of a savings and credit union which can give flexible financing (productive microcredit) to 33 families
- Secure nourishment to support the financing of a community kitchen that feeds 103 children
- Human talent, training for the 33 families in agricultural, administration, accounting, organization and gender
FEDICE will carry the work out together with Missionary Living Hope Church of Sua and its organization of 33 families in Nuevo Porvenir, Sua, Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador.
Pictured above: A FEDICE work and life skills training.