Church responds to devastating Mozambique floods

United Methodists are responding to deadly floods in the northern part of Mozambique with much-needed food and prayer, Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala told church leaders meeting in her country this week.

January floods, the result of torrential rains and a tropical disturbance, have taken the lives of more than 150 Mozambicans and left more than 160,000 homeless, reports Bloomberg News. The rushing waters also have submerged the crops and livelihoods of thousands and washed away more than 40 schools, just as this southeastern African country was ending its summer break.

News accounts are calling the devastation the nation’s worst floods since 2000.

Mozambican United Methodists have been collecting food and other supplies at their churches to help those in the flood-ravaged areas, Nhanala said.

Mozambique's #UMC Bishop Nhanala says "children are going hungry" because of floods. TWEET THIS TWEET THIS

Her area also has received a $9,000 emergency grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief. In addition, the Missouri Conference in the United States is offering aid. 

“At this first stage, we are just looking for food because we have children going hungry,” she said.

She was addressing a joint meeting of two denomination-wide leadership bodies — the Connectional Table and the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. Both groups, with members from around the world, have met in Maputo in the southern part of the country this week.

To contribute

You can help the church’s recovery efforts in this and other disasters outside the United States, by contributing to UMCOR’s International Disaster Response, Advance No. 982450. All funds go toward international relief efforts. 

The Zambezia province, where the floods occurred, is hundreds of miles to the north.

Nhanala’s episcopal area encompasses two conferences in Mozambique, a presence in South Africa and a growing mission in Swaziland. Altogether, the area has more than 150,000 United Methodists. 

She told United Methodist News Service that churches in her area are partnering with the Red Cross to deliver food. Joao Sambo, the disaster response coordinator, is traveling to the flooded areas. Because the waters have swept away so many bridges, he has to fly.

Nhanala said only a few United Methodist church buildings and parsonages have been affected by the flood, since those buildings are typically made of cement and other strong materials.

But recovery will take a long time for most in the area, and unfortunately, she said she expects more dangerous waters in the future.

“This situation is now happening every year,” she said. “If it’s not in the south, it’s in the north.”

Thomas Kemper, the top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, said UMCOR plans to help Mozambique United Methodists in giving aid.

“That includes aid to everybody, independent of creed and faith, so the most vulnerable are really helped,” said Kemper, who was in Mozambique this week for the Connectional Table. UMCOR is part of his agency.

“Also, we want to rebuild and invest in ways that are sustainable. We hope to accompany the church’s work by working according to these standards.”

Toward the end of the Connectional Table’s meeting Feb. 11, the group’s members and guests collected $763 to go toward flood relief.

Nhanala asks United Methodists to pray for her area. The church is growing, but the needs are many.

“Pray for God to strengthen us in this ministry and what we are doing,” she said. “We are dealing with issues of orphans, we are dealing with issues of drugs. We preach the gospel by words and deeds. This has been our hallmark in this country.”

Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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