Cyclone Pam Hits Vanuatu


CYCLONE PAM DEVASTATES VANUATU ISLANDS, IMPACTS LOCAL NAZARENES UPDATE: Initial reports indicate damage to Vanuatu is serious. Communications have been limited due to the destruction, but we have received word that two Nazarene churches have been destroyed. There is also great need for clean water, basic food, and shelter.

Tropical Cyclone Pam, a category 5 storm, slammed into the Vanuatu islands in the Melanesia South Pacific Field late in the evening of Friday, March 13. As winds started to subside in the early hours Saturday morning, a trail of destruction was left behind. Dozens of deaths have been reported, and heavy winds and rain have destroyed many homes and crops.

According to on-the-ground reports, streets are littered with debris and upturned trees, and entire villages have been blown away.

Cyclone Pam came ashore reportedly with 160 mph winds, gusting to 195 mph (257 kph gusts to 315 kph). The Bureau of Meteorology is calling Cyclone Pam “one of the most intense cyclones ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.”

There are 11 local Nazarene churches in Vanuatu. The church leaders in Vanuatu are requesting prayer and support as they work to minister to members and neighbors who have been affected by this devastating storm.

Harmon Schmelzenbach, Melanesia South Pacific Field Strategy Coordinator, said, “Please continue to pray for the people of Vanuatu, our missionaries, the Potters and Isaacs, as well as church leaders and members. Our missionaries were well prepared and were working with church leaders to help church and community members in preparation for the storm’s arrival.”

Before communication lines were cut off, David and Sylvia Potter, Nazarene missionaries serving in Vanuatu, were able to get out this message: “In the midst of the wildest storm I’ve ever gone through, God’s power and presence is so much more powerful. … Praying hard for those who do not know the God of the Universe and are without His peace right now!”

According to Schmelzenbach, “Efforts will continue throughout the weekend to make contact with our team members on the ground, as we consider Nazarene options for disaster response.”

Shelter, food, and water are immediate, urgent needs.


To support Nazarene disaster response efforts, give to the 

Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund


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