American Baptists Aid Congolese Tornado Victims

Feb 13, 2003 02:57 PM EST

Valley Forge, Pa. -- A health team supported by American Baptist International Ministries missionary personnel responded within hours to aid victims of a tornado that devastated Bandundu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo last week.

The Feb. 2 tornado destroyed more than 2,500 houses, 10 schools, two health centers and a church. Seventeen people died, including two women who were in labor, and thousands were injured and left homeless.

American Baptist International Ministries missionary Bill Clemmer reported that, in response to an urgent plea for help from the district medical doctor, the SANRU health project dispatched a plane with medicine, relief supplies and a disaster response team to Yumbi. More than 1,500 persons in that town of 40,000 were treated for injuries sustained largely as a result of falling structures and debris.

Clemmer, who later toured Yumbi with other response team members, noted: "It is sobering that a people who have suffered so much continue to undergo trials. The Congolese are a resilient people, and continually look toward the future with hope. What I saw, behind the destruction, were thousands of people, homeless in the light of a tornado, but forging ahead with the little they have, with hope and faith, not in man or in nature, but in the promises of God." September gathering will focus on black church vitality.

By Albert H. Lee
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