What began as a tropical depression on 7 February turned into the second strongest severe tropical cyclone recorded in the world (the strongest ever recorded was super typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in 2013). Gaining strength, severe tropical cyclone Winston became a Category 5 with winds of over 217 mph (350 kph) and made landfall in Fiji on 20 February.

The UN reported that as a result of the cyclone 120,000 people were in urgent need of shelter assistance, with up to 90% of structures destroyed in the hardest hit areas. 43 people have been reported killed.

By the grace of God, all of our brothers and sisters in Fiji are safe; however, there is some damage to homes and the ACBM Fiji Area Team has been in contact with the members in Fiji and is providing support to re-establish their lives. The ACBM has sufficient funds in hand to provide the financial assistance necessary. However the circumstances are quite traumatic and we seek your prayers for our brothers and sisters suffering distress at this time.

A letter from Fiji

The following is an extract from a letter sent to the ACBM from Brother Sami Raiwalui shortly after the cyclone:

Just want to let you know that we in Fiji are all well and in one piece. Yes, the cyclone wreaked havoc in our islands but we have been spared compared to those that bore the brunt of the hurricane force winds close to its eye.

Most of Suva has no power due to the power lines littering the streets but the water supply is connected although it may be contaminated. The recovery and clean-up is underway and we are thankful for all your prayers and thoughts. It was a horrific experience and it is sad to know that there will be more in the future. Our brothers and sisters in the West are all well though significant damage has been done to property. In the coming months there may be a shortage of food and an increase in the prices of items.

Last night was quite eerie as the light of the full moon lit the dark world with no breeze felt at all! We pray that the cyclone may slow down and head south since it is currently heading for Vanuatu as a Category Five. We also remember our brothers and sisters in Tonga in our prayers since Cyclone Winston came from that way and did a lot of damage as a Category Three.

In these times of trial, the urgent need of the Lord’s return is very much at the front of our minds knowing that darker days are ahead before the Kingdom must come. Also, we are reminded of the weightier things of life: our trust and faith in God and our love for our families. It was encouraging to hear hymns as families gathered around hurricane lamps for the evening devotions.

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers and hope to see you all soon at the appearing of our Lord. His will be done! The Lord bless you and keep you all always.