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!
This 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.
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…