One month after a 7.8-magnitude quake rocked Ecuador's coast, killing hundreds and injuring thousands, Christian relief groups are working tirelessly to provide aid to the devastated region, and are urging the international community to continue praying.
April's quake, the worst in nearly seven decades, injured around 16,600 people and left 58 missing along the country's ravaged Pacific coast.
Several strong tremors and more than 700 aftershocks have continued to shake the country since the major quake, which destroyed 7,000 buildings, forcing thousands of people to live in shelters.
A number of Christian organizations continue to work in the region, providing both physical and spiritual aid to those affected by the quakes.
Samaritan's Purse, headed by evangelist Franklin Graham, has sent a mobile emergency field hospital along with dozens of medical staff to treat the suffering in Ecuador, according to a report from the organization.
Since April 20, the hospital has operated in the town of Chone, and is equipped with an emergency room with the capacity to see more than 100 people a day, an operating theatre with the ability to perform 7-10 surgeries daily, 20 inpatient beds, and an outpatient clinic with onsite pharmacy.
The organization is also working to bring clean water to 50,000 people and meet the shelter needs of 5,000 households.
"The earthquake in Ecuador has caused incredible death, injury, destruction, and loss. We're responding as quickly as possible to help with emergency needs such as water, shelter, and medical care. We help in the Name of Jesus Christ and want to show people His love. Please keep them in your prayers," said Graham.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Litoral, which serves the coastal area hardest hit, recently developed a comprehensive plan to care for the short- and long-term needs of people living in those communities and has appointed parishioners to liaise with local government officials.
The diocese's plan covers four courses of action: providing food; health and medical care; spiritual care; and reconstruction and housing improvement, according to a press release.
In Manta, a central Pacific coastal community where the diocese has its headquarters, four churches, some of them incurring significant damage, have opened their doors to parishioners and community members, providing food, clothing, first aid supplies, clean water, household items and emergency repair assistance to 300 families.
In the upcoming weeks, the Diocese of Puerto Rico, which operates a hospital system, will send a medical team to Manta, and a small group representing four churches in the Diocese of Tennessee will make a previously scheduled visit in early June.
"We were shocked and saddened by the destruction caused by the recent earthquake in Ecuador," said George Kurz, a member of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Donelson, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, and co-chair of the Committee for Continuing Work in the Diocese of Litoral.
"Some of our churches have had companion church relationships with churches in the hard-hit Manta area for 10-15 years," he said. "Hearing about the causalities and 30,000 people left homeless, we realized that our clinics would be inadequate for those major needs."
"However, when we consulted Bishop Morante, he asked us still to come to be with our friends for companionship and spiritual support during this time of crisis," Kurz added. "While we have service projects every year, we have found that once we arrive in Ecuador, the most important thing is to be open to direction from the Holy Spirit and try to respond as best we could," he said.