Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, appealed to church members worldwide to pray as a fierce cyclone bore down on Mozambique.
Cyclone Idai made landfall with winds of up to 105 miles per hour (165 kilometers per hour) late March 14 near Beira, a port of 500,000 people where the Adventist Church operates Mozambique Adventist University.
A team of church leaders led by Alberto Timm, associate director of the General Conference’s Ellen G. White Estate, were presenting an International Bible and Mission Conference at the university when the storm first struck earlier in the week.
“Pray for our church members in Mozambique, especially where our Adventist university is in Beira,” Wilson said on his Facebook page. “A large cyclone is bearing down on the area, and already damage has come to Mozambique Adventist University.”
He also called for prayers for those in Mozambique and Malawi already affected by the cyclone, which initially made landfall at midweek, blowing the roof off at least one university building and causing other damage, before heading out to sea.
On its first pass, Cyclone Idai killed at least 122 people in Mozambique and Malawi, The Weather Channel reported. The BBC said Mozambique was braced for the“worst-case scenario” as the cyclonegathered strength and returned on the night of March 14.
Hours before the cyclone returned, university presidentHeraldo V. Lopes surveyed the initial damage in a video published on Wilson’s Facebook page.
"This is the place where the roof came off,” he said in Portuguese, showing a brick building with no roof. “We are praying to God that nothing else happens to the university.”
The university previously was chosen to be one of the recipients of a Thirteenth Sabbath Offering collected on the last Sabbath of March 2019. The funds are to help expand the university’s popular school of nutrition.
After the first wave of the storm, the Bible conference has been suspended until further notice. Timm and other church leaders, including several from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, have moved onto a hotel in hope of avoiding storm surges, which were forecast to reach at least 20 feet (6 meters) high.
“They are staying on the second and third floors, hiding in the bathrooms, which are probably the safest place,” said Wilson, who has been in contact with Timm and his wife, Marly, who is in the United States.
He reiterated his appeal for prayers for Mozambique and Malawi, as well as South Africa and Zimbabwe, which also may bear the brunt of the cyclone.
“We praise God for His wonderful protecting power in Beira, Mozambique, during the horrible cyclone “Idai.” From word originating from the administration of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, it appears that people are safe in Beira, Mozambique, and we give God the glory! Thank you for your prayers. Unfortunately, it appears that there is considerable damage to the Mozambique Adventist University in Beira. Please pray for the clean up and repairs that will need to take place after the very challenging cyclone. General communication connections and infrastructure are apparently not functioning well. We hope to have a fuller report later when good communication is restored. Continue praying since it appears that very high winds will return to that location tonight. Also, pray for those who are in the path of the onward going storm in other countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe. God hears our prayers. Thank you for praying. We serve a might God! Ted N C Wilson.”
“What a blessing to know we are going home to heaven soon where there will be no calamities,” he said. “Let’s engage in Total Member Involvement, helping people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually through Christ’s power.”