At least 3 Adventists killed in Ecuador Earthquake

At least 3 Adventists killed in Ecuador Earthquake

Church members start gathering donations to assist those affected by the tragedy.

April 17, 2016 | Bern, Switzerland. | A. McChesney, CD-EUDNEWS.

At least three Seventh-day Adventist believers are among the more than 200 people killed when a powerful earthquake struck Ecuador, causing widespread devastation and destroying four Adventist churches, church leaders said Sunday.

Remarkably, a group of Adventist believers narrowly escaped the collapse of their church without injury when the ground began to shake as they worshipped on Sabbath evening.

Ecuador has declared a state of emergency after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck at 6:58 p.m. Saturday, killing at least 233 people and injuring hundreds more. The earthquake is the South American country’s largest since 1979.

“We have bad news to share with you,” Pablo Rivas, treasurer for the Adventist Church in Ecuador, told the Adventist Review. “At this moment we are aware of the deaths of three Adventist members.”

Additional details about the deaths were not immediately available.

But Giovanny Izquierdo, president of Adventist Church in Ecuador, said church members escaped injury while worshipping in the Palmitas Seventh-day Adventist Church in the coastal city of Pedernales.

“Church members were in the church at the exact moment when the earthquake occurred and they immediately fled outside,” Izquierdo said in a WhatsApp text message.

The church building collapsed shortly afterward. The church has 80 members.

“Many buildings have fallen and the Palmitas church is completely destroyed,” the church’s pastor, Washington Guaranga, said in a separate WhatsApp message.

The WhatsApp messages were sent to Samuel Saito, director of the Adventist Church-operated Nuevo Tiempo (Hope) radio network in Ecuador, and viewed by the Adventist Review.

Information about the other three churches destroyed in the earthquake was not immediately available.

Pedernales, a city of about 46,000 people located 165 miles (270 kilometers) west of the capital, Quito, was completely flattened by the earthquake, its mayor told reporters.

Local Adventist members rushed to set up donation centers to collect food and clothing for those affected by the earthquake. The city’s 600 church members were working closely with ADRA, said Felipe Lemos, director of the press office for the Adventist Church’s South American Division, whose territory includes Ecuador.

“Adventist members in Pedernales are establishing centers to collect food and clothing in every district for distribution to places in need,” Lemos said. “Let’s remember the people of Ecuador in prayer.”

Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, also called for prayers for the relief and assistance efforts of the people of Ecuador.

“On behalf of the world church, our hearts go out to our church members and pastors who have lost at least three church members and seen their churches destroyed in the very strong earthquake on April 16,” he said on his Facebook page. “Remember the Ecuador Union and our local fields as they help with the recovery process during the aftermath of the traumatic and deadly event.”

Wilson also asked church members to pray for the people of Japan and Myanmar, two countries that also suffered earthquakes recently. No church members were injured in Japan, while the impact of the quake on the Adventist Church in Myanmar was unclear.

“Please also keep the people of Japan and Myanmar in your prayers as they have suffered earthquakes with tragic loss of life,” Wilson said. “As we come to the end of time, Jesus wants to use us as a positive influence in all types of difficult situations so Christ’s love can be seen through us.”

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