Armenian church, devasted by earthquake, helps Haiti

The following is a very cool story…like they could  make a movie about it.  I’ve reprinted it with permission from Chad Isenhart, who was a Convoy of Hope intern when we went to Armenia in the fall of 2008. He lives there now on assignment, helping with various Convoy of Hope projects. Quite moving…here goes!

From Chad…

mrchadThis last weekend we attended one of our new church plant services in the village of Spitak. Here in December 7, 1988 at 11:41am a massive earthquake that struck Armenia on was epicentered in Spitak, taking at least 25,000 lives. 500,000 people whose homes, built in apparent violation of seismic safety standards, were destroyed by two powerful tremors that rocked much of Armenia’s territory 20 years ago.

Measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale, many poorly constructed Soviet buildings across the region sustained heavy damage or collapsed.

The small city of Spitak was destroyed, while the nearby cities of Leninakan (later renamed to Gyumri) and Kirovakan (later renamed to Vanadzor) sustained a lot of damage as well. The tremor also caused damage to many surrounding villages.

Since most of the hospitals in the area were destroyed, and due to freezing winter temperatures, officials at all levels were not ready for a disaster of this scale and the relief effort was insufficient. The Soviet Union allowed foreign aid workers to help with the recovery in the earthquake’s aftermath.  This was one of the first cases when rescue and relief workers from other countries were allowed to take part in relief works in the Soviet Union.

We attended this service, and unknown to us, they had planned on taking an offering for response to the earthquake in Haiti. This small, year old church, meeting in a living room of a members home with about 50 in the congregation prayed for the people of Haiti, and gave their widows mite. Many in the village living on less than 3 dollars a day. They gave sacrificially with an offering of $180.00. They have asked us to get it to COH.earthquake

…end quote

Thanks for sharing Chad. Great story.

 

By the way, here’s some of the earthquake housing (think FEMA trailers) that’s still being used after these 25 years…

Clinging to Jesus’ feet

This Haiti situation reminds me of a challenging talk a team and I had with Pastor Paul. He’s a Liberian man who fled his country during Liberia’s civil war about a decade ago. He too knows the stench of death, hunger, sickness, losing his home and what it’s like to feel lost. We met at the Buduburam Refugee Camp near Accra, Ghana.

clingDesperation. At the time, 40,000 were struggling to get food, clean water, clothing, an education, and peace in their lives.

I asked Pastor Paul how I could pray for him. His response (as I recall):

 

 

“In this camp there is desperation. We’ve fled our homes and our people and come to this new place. Some people pray that we’ll be able to return to our homes and what is familiar. They pray for an abundance of clean water and jobs and money and cars and good food and freedom. I don’t pray for such things.”

His next words will stay with me forever…

Here in this camp, there is revival. The people here know that the only way to have peace is to cling to the feet of Jesus. We are doing that and we are free and we are at peace. Don’t pray that we’ll have things and what is familiar, pray that when Godcling (2) answers those prayers of others and provides materially beyond what we have now, that we will still cling to his feet. Even when we have all of those things, we must never forget that the only way to have true peace is Jesus.” 

I pray that in the midst of Haiti’s desperation, hopelessness, fear, and terror, that people will cling to the feet of Jesus. I pray that He will make Himself known in ways that they’ve never experienced and that they’ll realize that there is hope in Him. I pray that in the midst of chaos and the storm, they’ll find peace in Him. I pray they’ll cling to His feet…and that we’ll all cling to His feet, because we need Him just as badly.hisfeet1

 

In the midst of Haiti’s despair, please consider a donation to Convoy of Hope. People from Convoy of Hope are on the ground and responding.

Wings and Play Therapy…A Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking

Today is the National Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking.  As I blogged earlier, this is also the Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

Two former Convoy of Hope intern friends, Glori Ann and Krissi are working in various places around the world with those who’ve been affected by the tragedy. They inspire me…a bit of their stories:

gloriGlori Ann loves kids and helping people. After earning her Master’s degree, she served in the summer and fall of 2008 in places like El Salvador, Moldova, Armenia and the Republic of Georgia. She’s heading to Southeast Asia to work alongside an organization that helps rescue women and their children from the sex industry. She’ll use skills in areas like play therapy to help these children heal and find hope.

She’s leaving comfort and what she knows, to head to a place of wonder and challenge.  She’s still raising funds to get there.

 Krissi is in California preparing to head to the other side of the world. She’ll work in a village with a tragically high rate of innocent children abused in ways that shock the conscience. She’ll help them and others who’ve been hurt.

She wrote a song about how those imprisoned by the tragedy can be free. Here’s Wings:

She hopes to head out in the next few months…after she gets her funds raised.

People like Glori Ann and Krissi are my heroes. Today, the Day of Resolve Against Human Trafficking, I wanted to let you know about them.

Coffee is better than cow poop

In Armenia just over a year ago, we worked with some wonderful people in the plateaus of the Caucasus Mountains. These Yezide Kurds are amongst the poorest people groups of the region. Those we met are hard working, wonderful people who earn very, very little money. We felt bad knowing they heat their homes and cook their food with bricks made of dried cow poop.  This photo shows a mound of hay which the animals can eat during the winter and mounds of cow poop to use in cooking/heating.

pilesopoop

Their region provides very little wood for fires and they use the resources available to them.

A pastor with whom we worked said if he and the people of his church could help their neighbors utilize something besides the norm for their fuel it would make a huge difference.

Chad, one of Convoy of Hope’s former interns, is in Armenia right now. Among his various projects, he’s helping these Yezide Kurds use something much better than cow poop to use as fuel. Coffee.

armeniachad

Java Logs are bricks made of coffee ground.  They’re not a new thing, but they are in the plateaus of the Caucas Mountains. Chad’s using local resources, including coffee grounds from area hotels and restaurants to test java logs with these great people.

He’s still working on the best local resource for the wax that helps keep the java logs together, but from what I’ve heard from him, overall things are going well.  Pray for the right wax combination and source so the project can spread across the area…

I love innovation.

What are some innovative things you’ve seen to help people where you live or around the world?

People existing on the margins of survival

I came across this story today. Heartbreaking.  It’s about the people of Peru who raise alpacas high in the Andes Mountains. The weather is getting colder each winter and they’re having to make tough decisions about their animals, their farms and their families.

I’m skeptical about the reasons behind climate change (not sure man’s behind it) but I’m not skeptical that the climate does change and has for years. I also know it affects people.

People like those in these highlands are affected. The article refers to them as “people existing on the margins of survival”.

I was in the highlands a few years ago on a OneHope trip and met this little guy.  I won’t forget him.

Peruvian highlands

I won’t forget his hands or his cheeks. We were about 10,000 feet elevation when I took this photo. His hands were very, very, very dry as were his cheeks. Everyone’s were.  It hurts them just like it would hurt us…affecting sleep, comfort level and more. More is at stake though as the elements take their tole on those exisiting on the margins of survival. A few miles from this photo we met people walking their alpacas.

The article linked above mentioned that people are now debating whether or not to use their meager resources to save their children or their animals! I cannot imagine.

I don’t know the solution.

“They should move!  Why would anyone live that high!!”  Except many generations have lived in the same area and it’s all they know…

“Why wouldn’t they save their kids…they’re humans!”  I AGREE…except they understand that with no animals there’s no food so there’s starvation for all.

What’s the solution? I don’t know. I like to use this site to raise awareness sometimes…and to help us remember to pray for those exisiting on the margins of survival. God is creative and He gives great ideas to those who listen. May these hurting people and those who influence them hear from Him.  May they find new life in Him!

Here’s a closer shot of his hands, with encouragement to pray for him and those affected, and with a challenge to be a part of the solution for those on the margins.

hurtinghands