Vanuatu Update: Vanuatu Communities in Need of Help. Disaster Response Efforts Begin


Cyclone Pam, a category-5 storm, left the island nation of Vanuatu to in utter devastation after it made landfall late Friday, March 13. Eleven people have been confirmed dead, 30 people have been injured, and thousands have been displaced; and these numbers are expected to rise. Experts are predicting this storm will be known as one of the worst disasters the South Pacific region has ever seen.  

Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Londsale has labeled the storm, whose 165 mph (266 kmh) winds directly affected at least half of the country’s population, “a monster.” He said, “It's a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out."


Clean-up has begun in Port Vila, the capital city, and damage is still being assessed in outer-lying islands through the archipelago. The southern island of Tanna, where the Church of the Nazarene has a strong presence, was especially hard-hit. Most of the residents of Tanna are subsistence farmers, and many live in tradition thatched-roof houses. Reports suggest every building there that was not made of concrete has been completely flattened.


The Church of the Nazarene has 11 local churches in Vanuatu, including the church on the island of Tanna.


The majority of communication lines are still down, but Harmon Schmelzenbach, field strategy coordinator for the Melanesia South Pacific field, has reported, “The outer islands of Tanna and Aniwa, where we have church work, were also hit hard. At the present time, we know that at least two of our Nazarene Churches … have been destroyed.”

Schmelzenbach added, “Immediate needs are potable water, basic food, and shelter.”


Food security will be a critical concern for the foreseeable future in Vanuatu, where the majority of the country’s most vulnerable families depend on subsistence agriculture for survival. Initial reports indicate that the country’s banana crops have been entirely destroyed, along with all leafy vegetables, and fruit trees have all been stripped. In addition, small livestock production and the fishing industry have been destroyed.


“Please continue to pray for the people of Vanuatu, our missionaries … [and] church leaders and members,” Schmelzenbach said.

Churches and communities in Vanuatu need your help.


To support Nazarene disaster response efforts, give to the Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund.

To send donations by mail, make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:

Global Treasury Services Church of the Nazarene P.O. Box 843116 Kansas City, MO 64184-3116

Be sure to put ACM1200 in the Memo area.

In Canada, make checks payable to "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:

Church of the Nazarene Canada 20 Regan Road, Unit 9 Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3

Be sure to put ACM1200 in the Memo area.