April 11, 2015

Hope Channel Starts Drive to Rebuild Vanuatu Churches

Hope Channel has set up a special fund to raise money to rebuild the 53 Adventist churches destroyed last month by Cyclone Pam on the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

“The Adventist Church in Vanuatu needs our help to rebuild,” the Adventist-owned channel said in an appeal on its website. “Give a little to help Vanuatu a lot.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church lost 53 of its 85 church buildings in the Category 5 storm, according to the church’s Vanuatu Mission. A number of school buildings and hundreds of church members’ homes also were destroyed.

Vanuatu’s government may provide assistance to rebuild the schools, and agencies such as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency are assisting those affected by the disaster. But no money is available to rebuild the churches, which were not insured.

“The biggest need is … for the church in the South Pacific to stand together to rebuild the loss to the church,” said Francois Keet, chief financial officer for the church’s Trans-Pacific Union Mission. “This is probably one of the disasters in the Pacific Islands where the church has incurred the biggest loss ever.”

It remains unclear how much the reconstruction will cost.

Glenn Townend, president of the Trans-Pacific Union Mission, said the loss of so many Adventist churches had dealt a major blow to local communities.

“I’ve been in villages where they gather for worship before they go out and work, and then after work they come together because community is built around church,” he said. “Churches are central to village life.”

Church leaders say the situation is incredibly dire because many church members lost their sources of income to the cyclone and therefore are hard-pressed to support the reconstruction of homes and churches.

Vanuatu also faces a shortage of construction materials after the cyclone destroyed many trees.

Please visit Hop.ec/vanuatu to make a donation. A number of 30-second television spots have also been made available online for people to share on social media. The videos can also be downloaded for those wanting to play them in their local church.

Glenn Townend, president of the Trans-Pacific Union Mission, making a 30-second appeal to assist in the rebuilding of Vanuatu churches.

A version of this story appeared in the South Pacific Adventist Record.