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In wake of Fiji cyclone, WCC extends prayers, condolences

24 February 2016

In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston, the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed its concern and extended prayers for Fiji. The storm killed at least 29 people and left more than 13,000 in shelters in the island nation.

In a letter to the Fiji Council of Churches, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said he knows the storm has left great needs, both immediately and over the long-term.

“As a council, you have a mission as leaders to speak and work together in offering comfort and spiritual guidance as people begin to assess the damage and rebuild their lives,” Tveit wrote. “I hope the fellowship that you share as churches will strengthen your efforts to meet these needs.”

Strong winds and flooding from Winston caused severe damage across the island nation, which has declared a month-long state of disaster.

Tveit offered prayers as the council is called to public witness and service. “We are reminded often in the ecumenical movement that we share always in one another’s suffering and hope. We pray that you are able to be a voice of hope for those who are in pain. Please know that Christians around the world stand with you in solidarity,” he wrote.

Churches assist with relief

The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, WCC’s member church in Fiji, was sharing relief information and public advisories with cyclone survivors and organizing volunteers to assist with relief efforts. Churches were working with Fiji Red Cross offices to pack relief supplies for the thousands of people affected by the storm. Church halls were made available for evaluation shelters.

In a letter to Rev. Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, president of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, Tveit expressed his grave concern for the unfolding crisis.

“Be assured that the prayers of the World Council of Churches are offered for your church and for your leadership in such a testing moment,” Tveit wrote. “The challenges you face are felt by churches around the world and they stand with you in solidarity in this moment of crisis.”

Tveit offered a message of hope, even in darkness. “I am confident even in this moment of discouragement and grief that you will find strength in God’s unfailing love and compassion,” he wrote.

Letter of prayers and condolences to Fiji Council of Churches (23 February 2016)

Letter of prayers and condolences to Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma (23 February 2016)

WCC member churches in Fiji