A grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief provided food for more than 150 families affected by the deadly storm.
Your gifts on UMCOR Sunday helps support the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere.
Striking five countries over five weeks in February and March, the cyclone claimed more than 1,400 lives.
Members of the first United Methodist church in Madagascar stepped up to be the hands and feet of Jesus for people devastated by Cyclone Freddy earlier this year.
Ricocheting across the Indian Ocean for five weeks, the tropical cyclone wreaked havoc on the island nation, as well as Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, killing more than 1,400 people.
“We brought foodstuffs to offer our brothers and sisters here in Andranomavo II, in the district of Mananjary, as a response to their suffering after Cyclone Freddy,” said Justin Rakotoarimanana, a member of Ambodifasika United Methodist Church in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital.
The food was purchased through a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, which also awarded grants to provide emergency rations and hygiene supplies to nearby Mozambique and Malawi in response to Cyclone Freddy.
The Madagascar aid was distributed in Andranomavo, one of the poorest rural communities in the country, situated about 335 miles from Antananarivo.
Poverty in the country is rampant, due in part to the isolation of the island of Madagascar from Africa to the west and Asia to the east.
Jean Aime Ratovohery, a lay pastor and the spiritual leader of Ambodifasika United Methodist Church, said the congregation went to work after the cyclone hit the area.
“We heard the cry of God’s children and were moved to act. We contacted the government and local leaders,” he said.
More than 150 families were supported through the UMCOR aid, and the church worked with Boto Andre, the head of the village and the deputy mayor.
“I had never heard of The United Methodist Church,” said Bodo Abani Marielle. “I am grateful to this church for providing us with rice, sugar, salt, corn flour and foodstuffs that will enable my family to have meals for about two months.”
United Methodism is relatively new to the East African country. Ambodifasika United Methodist Church began in 2018 and recently celebrated its first baptisms, Holy Communion and confirmations during a historic visit from Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala of the Mozambique Episcopal Area in February.
“Although I never heard of The United Methodist Church (or) UMCOR, I thank you for your love and care for us,” said beneficiary Bebe Georgette. “We received something for our physical hunger, but we also need that which will sustain our spiritual needs.”
Respeito Chirrinze has worked as the Mozambique Episcopal Area disaster management coordinator for the past seven years. The program is supported by UMCOR.
“We are glad that the funding was granted and the implementation was successful,” said Chirrinze. “The data we are collecting after implementation are very good. Very shortly, we’ll submit to UMCOR the closing report of the solidarity grant to Madagascar.”
Nine volunteers from Ambofadisika United Methodist Church joined in the food distribution and shared their experiences.
Pastor Ratovohery said he returned to Antananarivo with the sense that the mission has been fulfilled. “Of the 150 families (for whom) we provided food, we are certain that an average of 650 people are having meals every day for about two months.”
excerpt from a story by the Rev. João Filimone Sambo, Africa Lusophone correspondent, UMNS
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, UMCOR Sunday calls United Methodists to share the goodness of life with those who hurt. Your gifts to UMCOR Sunday lay the foundation for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to share God’s love with communities everywhere. The special offering underwrites UMCOR’s “costs of doing business.” This helps UMCOR to keep the promise that 100 percent of any gift to a specific UMCOR project will go toward that project, not administrative costs.
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