Lighting struck a Rwandan Seventh-day Adventist congregation during Sabbath worship on March 10, killing 15 members. More than 130 others attending services at the Gihemvu Seventh-day Adventist Church were taken to an area hospital and other health centers. Some of those treated have since been released.
Church leaders and government officials, including Abidan Ruhongeka, president of the South Rwandan Field and Mureshyankwano Marie Rose, the governor of the Southern Province of Rwanda, attended a special burial ceremony held Sunday, March 11. Rose offered condolences to the families of the deceased and declared that the district of Nyaruguru will pay the medical bills of those still receiving treatment.
During the ceremony, Ruhongeka shared, “We commiserate with the families of the deceased and those affected during these hard times. Let everybody remember that when Jesus comes again, those died in Him shall resurrect.” He said that the church provided coffins to bury the deceased and they are providing support and assistance to those affected by this tragedy.
Ted. N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church expressed his sympathy for the church in Rwanda on his public Facebook page:
We have received alarming word that this last Sabbath, March 10, at the Gihemvu Seventh-day Adventist Church in the southern district of Nyaruguru in the country of Rwanda, at least 15 of our Seventh-day Adventist members died and others were injured during a traumatic lightning strike on the church. Our hearts go out to our dear church members in Rwanda who have suffered this very difficult loss. What a tragedy to have such a strange occurrence of lightning striking during a church service.
On behalf of the world family of Seventh-day Adventists circling the globe, we have offered our deep sympathy and Christian love to all our members in the Rwanda Union which is in the East-Central Africa Division and especially to the families who have lost loved ones and to those who were injured from this traumatic event.
Truly God will provide the comfort and encouragement during this trying ordeal. We have encouraged our church members in Rwanda to keep their eyes focused on the Lord and His soon return when He will bring to life all those who have died in Him. What a hope we have for the future. Please pray with us for our church members and especially the families affected as they look to the Lord for their encouragement and continue with the strong emphasis on Total Member Involvement. Let us pray that each church member in Rwanda may feel the comforting and guiding hand of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.
Nyarunazi Seventh-day Adventist church and their company of Gihemvu is in the South Rwanda Field. The church is located in Nyaruguru District, Southern Province of Rwanda.