Our Rock: Disasters & the Church’s Response

At the end of January, The Compass Church commissioned Matt and Laura Pheneger and their children as they moved to Peru. (You can read about that here.) Transition to life and service overseas is never easy, but the Phenegers arrived only weeks before the worst natural disaster that Peru has seen in 100 years, with unusually high rainfall leading to devastating mudslides. Today, Matt writes about that disaster, and the Hope that is breaking through.

It was a powerful image that was broadcast around Peru and around the world.  A woman who was swept away by one of the mudslides that devastated Peru in March (see video:  http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/22/americas/peru-mudslide-survivor-video/index.html).  Evangelina Chamorro survived the harrowing ordeal, praying the whole way down.

Street view2

Tens of thousands are dealing with the catastrophic effects of the mudslides throughout the country.  I traveled 200 miles north of Lima to the town of Huarmey with a group from our church, Camino de Vida.  What I witnessed was nothing I had ever seen before.  The streets had been converted into rivers of mud and water.  Homes were filled to overflowing with that same sludge.  People were living on the roofs of their homes at night and  wading into the muck and mire to shovel the quagmire out of their homes throughout the day.


A school

I also witnessed the Church in action.  Overwhelmed by the extent of the devastation, the government has struggled to keep up with the need.  Churches and individuals have banded together to take on the challenge.  It is going to take weeks if not months to return these towns and their homes and businesses to a sort of normalcy.  Because of what they experienced in the mudslides and the response of the church, though, many people’s lives will never be the same.


The team from Camino de Vida church helping people to remove the mud.

In one of the mudslides up in the mountains above the area where we live, a massive boulder landed next to a home.  Although the first floor was now full of six feet worth of mud, the family was thankful they were spared from the boulder crashing into their home.  Soon after a second deluge headed their way.  This time, instead of slamming into their home, the boulder stood in the way, sparing a potentially crushing blow to the house.  The first mudslide, that brought so much damage, had also deposited the very thing that saved the home from the second mudslide.

In the midst of all this catastrophe, our prayer is that some rocks have been deposited to divert further damage across the country.  Hopefully that is true of physical rocks, but also spiritual rocks.  In the barren terrain across the country, there are very few obstacles to hold back the mudslides that are inevitable when any kind of heavy rain hits.


A church member praying for a woman affected by the mudslides

This appears to be the case spiritually as well.  Pray that the Church can be used by God to get outside the walls of their church buildings and begin to impact this nation.  Using the gifts, talents and passions that each individual in the Church has been blessed with to tackle the issues that are overwhelming Peruvians’ lives resulting in fatherlessness, brokenness and desperation.  Pray that Christians from all walks of life will be rocks in the arena in which they have been placed.  From businessmen to teachers to soccer coaches, we all have an opportunity to live for and point people to the only Rock who can be our haven in the midst of the deluge we face in this life & through Him live the life for which we were created.

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