Foursquare has been mobilizing all its resources in Indonesia to meet the incredible need in Sulawesi after the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami. The Indonesian national church, missionaries and Foursquare Disaster Relief (FDR) are all working together to bring aid and open communication in the region.
On Friday, Sept. 28, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami leveled the city of Palu on Sulawesi’s central coast. With little warning, very few of Palu’s approximately 300,000 population were able to escape the danger. The damage and loss of life from the twin disasters were staggering.
Damage to the city’s infrastructure has made access in and out of Palu extremely limited, delaying much of the initial emergency response. Adding to the problem are widespread looting and property destruction as the isolated population struggles to find food, shelter and clean water. Many of the trucks and planes able to bring in aid have been mobbed or looted.
Foursquare (known locally as GPDI) has a large presence on Sulawesi, including in Palu, and has been heavily affected by this disaster.
“Fifteen churches have been damaged or destroyed, and nine Foursquare members have lost their lives,” reports Chad Isenhart, FDR’s international response director. “A lot of church members are still missing. Communication lines are still down, power is still out in Palu, and electricity and water are out.”
Due to infrastructure damage and security concerns, very few people are able to make it into the city for relief efforts. However, the regional supervisor, Pastor Franky Rewah, has been driving to nearby towns to purchase food and water to bring back to GPDI churches in and around Palu. It is estimated that he has about 7,000 members in need.
FDR has been supporting Pastor Franky’s efforts and coordinating with local Foursquare workers to assess the condition of GPDI churches in the affected region.
“With no power, there is no banking, no purchase, no work, no fuel, no hospital and no water. But it appears the people know that the church is people, not just a building. They pray, they sing, they believe in this unique time of uncertainty,” says one local Foursquare Missions International (FMI) worker who cannot be named due to security concerns.
“Fifteen churches have been damaged or destroyed, and nine Foursquare members have lost their lives. A lot of church members are still missing. Communication lines are still down, power is still out in Palu, and electricity and water are out.” —Chad Isenhart, FDR international response director
The FMI workers are uniquely positioned to partner with FDR’s relief efforts because of the training they received that FDR offers to Foursquare leaders. They are currently developing emergency plans for this and future disasters in Central Sulawesi. In concert with FDR, they have been helping pastors to coordinate their churches as centers of shelter, supply distribution and other emergency needs.
“The response from FDR has been awesome. It is not just about the funds, but about helping a church and a nation to step up and assess and respond,” explains one FMI worker. “[We] have been first into areas that no one has been yet with assistance, and GPDI/Foursquare assist and share information while meeting specific needs.”
FDR continues to assess the situation as the extent of the damage continues to reveal itself. There are about 125 GPDI churches in the affected area, and the majority have yet to be accessed. In light of the immensity of the disaster, FDR is cooperating with the national church and local nonprofit organizations such as Compassion First to provide the best possible response to the area.
“We’ve got a lot of Foursquare churches, a lot of friends, and a lot of boots on the ground that are capable and able to minister and help their community,” states Chad. “We have an opportunity to support and equip them. Finances will help them to be a light in a Muslim majority nation, to show them that the church is there, and we care about people.”
You can help fund that effort by giving toward FDR’s International Relief Fund. Please also pray for the thousands of Foursquare families struggling to find safety in this very difficult situation. As their testimonies come in, they continue to praise God even as their homes and churches are destroyed. We stand with them as Foursquare family, declaring together that, as one local pastor stated, “The protection of the Lord is real.”