On the evening of Saturday, May 22, 2021, the skies of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo turned red as Mt. Nyiragongo erupted, just outside the town of Goma where IM Global Servants Ann and Bill Clemmer serve. The lava flow ceased about three kilometers outside the town after burning schools, churches, and over 500 homes in its path. While not as devastating as the 2002 eruption, upwards of 8,000 people fled from their homes; about 180 children were separated from their parents in that exodus and are still missing. The Clemmers are currently in Goma, and they are safe and well. As regional consultants, they work with IM partners Heal Africa and IMA World Health. Bill provides support to health care workers, hospitals, and clinics that offer life-saving maternal and child health services, while Ann coordinates educational and relief services to orphans, vulnerable children and widows alongside HEAL Africa’s dedicated national volunteers. For now, the 250-bed Heal Africa Hospital is evacuating. Many schools and businesses are closed as people contemplate departure. Authorities warn that the frequent seismic tremors that began after the lava flow ceased could cause a second and more devastating eruption.
“The Heal Africa housing campus where we reside is in a fairly safe location, and we are in constant communication and supported by IM, the national IMA headquarters, and Heal Africa staff who have also remained,” Ann and Bill say. “On Sunday morning a number of children showed up at Sunday School, looking for safe haven. Thankfully, several teachers were there to welcome them. Most of the women we have been working with have been struggling to eke out a living on the rocky lava flow at the base of the volcano. We hear all the homes in one of those neighborhoods were burned to the ground. We’re hoping to be able to get out and better assess the situation soon.”
HEAL Africa is currently assessing its greatest needs in the aftermath of this crisis, and IM is sending an OGHS emergency relief grant to assist.
Please pray for continued safety for the Clemmers and everyone living in the area. Pray that the seismic activity stops and does not cause a repeat of the 2002 volcanic eruption. Pray also for all who have lost their homes, and that disruptions to water and electricity could be quickly restored.
For more details, please read this journal from the Clemmers: https://www.internationalministries.org/volcanic-eruption-in-goma-democratic-republic-of-congo/
International Ministries, also known as the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation.