Missionaries Safe, Fate of Ministry Leaders Unknown After Quake

Screen grab from webcam video of Oaxaca city.

OAXACA, MEXICO (September 8, 2017) — Covenant missionaries Nils and Erika Clauson said they were OK but without power this morning after an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico off the coasts of Oaxaca and Chiapas states at roughly 11:49 p.m. (central) Thursday night.

The Clausens live in Oaxaca City, which is located in the center of the state.

“We are all fine, but this was by far the strongest shake we have felt in our years in Mexico and was really quite a scare,” Nils wrote in an email this morning.  “As far as I can see the only damage in our home was a few broken picture frames. But we are still without power at this point, 7 hours later. We are concerned about those in the Isthmus– they are much closer to the epicenter and no one has been able to communicate with them.”

Among the ministries impacted are Fuentes Libres, MAEM (Ministering with the Abused and Exploited in Mexico) and Seeds of Health.

Fuentes Libres provides microfinancing and spiritual formation to marginalized women in Oaxaca. It was an initiative of Covenant missionary Nancy Jo Hoover but is now run entirely by local women.

Covenant missionary Cindy Hoover created and led Seeds of Health (Semillas de Salud) while serving in the region. The organization offers wellness training and medical services to women and children through local schools and churches in the isthmus.

Bjorn Amundsen, son of retired Covenant missionary Byron Amundsen, is in Oaxaca City and said the hotel where he was staying had to be evacuated. At least one hotel in the city is reported to have collapsed, but there had not been reports of injuries yet.

The earthquake is the strongest to hit Mexico in more than 100 years, government officials said. People as far as 650 miles away had to flee buildings. The governor of Oaxaca said this morning that 32 people have been reported killed so far.

The United States Geographical Survey said in a statement, “High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response.”

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Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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