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2008 A look back: AG International

Natural disasters, ethnic tensions

Compiled by Christina Quick

As is often the case, this year proved to be volatile in much of the world, with human suffering and conflict highlighting the need for Christ’s message of hope. A sampling:

Kenyans slaughtered in AG church

At least 50 people were killed and 80 others hospitalized with severe burns New Year’s Day when a rioting mob set fire to an Assemblies of God church near Eldoret, Kenya.

The tribal violence erupted following a disputed presidential election a week earlier.

Hundreds of people, mostly women and children, had sought shelter in the church. Some who managed to escape the flames were hacked to death outside the church.

Most of the victims were members of the church, according to Kenya AG Superintendent Peter Njiri.

Elsewhere in Kenya, many were forced to flee their homes as a result of the riots. An estimated 70,000 AG members were displaced and homeless, with hundreds of AG churches either destroyed or deserted.

Convoy of Hope provided food and blankets to refugees.

Randy Hurst, communications director for Assemblies of God World Missions, likened it to a natural disaster.

“The difference is, a natural disaster typically brings people together,” Hurst said. “This conflict is tearing Kenya apart.”

Disasters devastate Asian regions

May brought natural disasters of staggering proportions to Asia.

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) May 3, killing more than 84,000.

On May 12, a powerful earthquake killed almost 70,000 in central China.

The disasters wiped out homes, businesses and churches and left tens of thousands of people missing. As many as 75 AG churches were destroyed or severely damaged in Myanmar.

Convoy of Hope and AG World Missions provided aid in both nations, distributing food, water, medical supplies and other items.

Russia invades Georgia

Russia triggered international alarm in August by sending troops into Georgia, a former
Soviet republic.

The dispute between the two nations erupted over a breakaway province, South Ossetia, which declared independence from Georgia after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Georgia was attempting to reclaim the region when Russia stepped in with a series of military actions, including tanks and air strikes.

Thousands of Georgians fled their homes during the invasion. As winter approached, Convoy of Hope provided the refugees with food, blankets, clothing and other basic necessities.

World’s poor struggle to eat

Americans weren’t the only ones facing tough economic times this year.

Food costs soared around the world, triggering violence and adding to the global hunger epidemic. Corn prices jumped 30 percent, while the cost of rice doubled.

“It used to be that just animal products, fruits and vegetables were hard for the poor to come by, but now even the cheapest products can be hard to obtain,” said Kenton Moody, Convoy of Hope’s international director.

Though Convoy was also affected by rising food prices, the compassion organization responded to the need, feeding the hungry in El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Kenya and elsewhere.

Castro steps down in Cuba

Ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro announced his resignation in February, ending a half-century of rule.

As expected, Cuba’s National Assembly chose Castro’s younger brother Raul to be the country’s next president, succeeding 81-year-old Fidel.

CHRISTINA QUICK is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Refrigerator Art (

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