Nazarenes in Timor-Leste respond to catastrophic flooding
On Easter weekend, the island nation of Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) experienced heavy rainfall resulting in historic flash floods and landslides throughout the country. It severely affected the capital city of Dili, where the streets turned into streams and floodwaters submerged entire city blocks, businesses, and neighborhoods.
Over 30,000 households were affected, 15,800 people were displaced, and 41 lost their lives. Crops and food stores were destroyed, creating food insecurity and economic hardship for many families. As a developing country also battling COVID-19 cases, this kind of disaster only created greater need and anxiety. But it was exactly these needs that Nazarenes in Timor-Leste stepped forward to answer.
Sam Soares, the pastor of Dili Church of the Nazarene, rallied his congregation together to meet the needs of their neighbors. After assessing the needs of the congregation and the surrounding neighborhoods, the church began to pull its resources together.
The church’s initial response was to provide hot meals to more than 150 displaced families. Then, they got to work cleaning mud and debris out from neighboring homes, yards, and streets. They also began to put together and deliver care packages containing rice, oil, non-perishable goods, and cleaning supplies.
As the church continued to respond to the needs around them using their own resources, donations started to come from other organizations and individuals. Pastor Sam and Dili Nazarenes have distributed over 200 care packages to families and 25 university students in five neighborhoods. This also allowed them to meet their neighbors' spiritual and emotional needs by praying, counseling, and encouraging them during this difficult time.
“I am thankful to God we had the opportunity to help people experience God’s love,” Soares said. “Thank you to our team for working so hard and taking risks, and thank you also to those who spent time praying for Timor-Leste and giving toward relief efforts. I really appreciate it.”