Report on the October 2015 Mudslide in Guatemala

During the night of Thursday, October 1, the side of a mountain gave way and fell on a residential area near Guatemala City. The community, called El Cambray 2, belongs to the town of Santa Catarina Pinula.  Heavy rains and unstable soil contributed to the slide, which came down on some 125 houses with tons of mud and dirt. Rescue crews worked around the clock during the days after the slide, hoping to find survivors. Some came out alive, but many others were not so fortunate. So far some 270 bodies have been found; as many as 300 could still be buried in the rubble. 

CNN: Guatemala landslide death toll rises to 271

While this tragedy affects the country of Guatemala and has made international news, it also strikes close to home for us.  Raúl Morán, one of our alumni, is pastor of a church in Santa Catarina Pinula.  His son-in-law, William Quiñónez (also a graduate), is youth pastor at the church as well as Director of Practical Ministry at SETECA. He has had a key role in his community, working with city officials in various projects. Raúl’s daughter Mimi directs an outreach center for children in the town, offering after-school tutoring, Bible classes, and other types of support. 

Pastor Morán reports that entire families from the outreach center had lost their lives.  Among the victims from the center were the music teacher and some 30 children.  Mimi was called to identify the bodies of a good number of victims since she knew them.  People from the church were among the first to arrive at the scene and try to help. William told us that the young people from the church have been actively involved in classifying and distributing food and other relief supplies.

While the immediate situation is being cared for, there will be on-going needs over the coming weeks. The people displaced by the slide will need to be settled in a new area. Those who lost family members will need support and counseling. Food and supplies will still be needed.

The response locally to this tragedy has been encouraging. We’re thankful to have a small part in helping. A few days ago some visitors from the U.S. packed 60 bags of food staples for some of the needy families.  William will coordinate the distribution of this food later.  The seminary faculty, students, and staff are also helping to collect needed items.

Please help us by praying for these requests:

  1. Emotional and spiritual stamina for William, Mimi, Pastor Morán, and other alumni and church leaders who are helping with the disaster relief.
  2. God’s guidance for those that are ministering to people who have lost loved ones.
  3. That the contribution of the Seminary and the Christian community will be effective as we show the love of Christ through our actions and through the message of hope from God’s Word.

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Paul and Jean Sywulka

 


 

The SETECA community is directly involved in helping with relief in the aftermath of this tragedy. Your gift to the SETECA Emergency Relief Fund will help the Seminary respond with God's love and hope to the present and long-term needs related to this crisis.