In May last year, extreme rainfall hit Brazil’s northeast coast. Rivers, streams and canals quickly overflowed, flooding surrounding neighbourhoods. At least 128 people were killed, and more than 9,000 people were made homeless. This week, pray and give thanks for local churches who were among the first to respond.
Sunday 3 September
José is pastor of the Baptist Church in Coqueiral, Recife. Faced with the highest ever recorded rainfall, his church immediately put Tearfund’s disaster response training into action. Give thanks that they were able to rescue 420 people. ‘We would certainly have had many more deaths if it wasn’t for the action of the church together with the community.’
Monday 4 September
There is widespread poverty across Coqueiral. ‘We live in a place that suffers a lot, especially when there is a flood,’ says Adriana. ‘We lose everything. Even the little we have.’ But she is grateful to Pastor José. ‘The only people who have been helping us here is the church,’ she says. Ask God to strengthen and encourage the church as they reach out to their community.
Tuesday 5 September
As well as rescuing people, the church provided shelter and food for many more in the aftermath, producing an average of 1,000 meals a day. They also registered 2,000 families whose homes and belongings were substantially damaged because of the flood. Pray for families who are still putting their lives back together and who fear more floods will come.
Wednesday 6 September
Pastor José is concerned about the vulnerability of his community. ‘Recife is the 16th most vulnerable capital in the world to global warming and Coqueiral is a neighbourhood crossed by the Tejipió River,’ he says. Pray for global efforts to respond to the climate emergency, and that more determined action will be taken to reduce emissions.
Thursday 7 September
To help communities like Coqueiral face increasing disasters and emergencies, Tearfund is providing training to help churches prepare and respond. ‘Tearfund taught us how to act in the face of a major catastrophe,’ he says. ‘They provided courses for around 200 people in the community about how to act and put together a contingency plan.’ Pray that more churches will be trained to prepare for disasters.
Friday 8 September
One of the main reasons the floods were so devastating is because of the plastic and other solid waste that is dumped in the river in Coqueiral. ‘Humanity needs to stop consuming plastic,’ says Pastor José. ‘There needs to be serious policies to stop the production of disposable plastic.’ Pray for the success of Tearfund’s Rubbish Campaign (see tearfund.org/rubbish) which is pushing for a global agreement to reduce plastic waste.
Saturday 9 September
Pastor José believes that embracing biblical values is the way to take care of the environment and help prevent future disasters. ‘There is a beautiful philosophy, the biblical philosophy of the kingdom of God, where the kingdom of God is the harmony between all things in life. We should learn from this.’ Ask God how you can take steps to better care for creation.