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Together We Build testimony: 'God save me'.

Captain Susana's harrowing firsthand testimony surviving the 2018 Indonesian earthquake.
Posted May 31, 2019

Together We Build is the fundraising initiative of Women’s Ministries New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa  Territory, aiming to raise $44,500 to rebuild three officers' quarters destroyed in the 2018 earthquake in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Territory.

Captain Susana Assah of Jono Oge Corps recounts the day the earthquake hit, as she and her son narrowly escaped their home as it collapsed around them. The earthquake killed 2000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million. 

God saved us from earthquake that destroyed Palu, Sigi and Donggala in Central Sulawesi Province, Indonesia. 

Many people lost their houses. After sixteen years under construction, our local corps and home had been due to be inaugurated that October. We lost them both in the earthquake. Praise the Lord for showing His mercy and love to us in Jono Oge, even though there was nothing left.

The day of the earthquake, I witnessed God’s love in all our lives at Jono Oge Corps. My husband Major Rudi Assah was out at Palu, so Candidate Sherlin, our son Jourdhan and I planted flowers in the afternoon to beautify our Corps garden and boiled sweet potatoes to enjoy with afternoon tea.

After the flowers were planted, Candidate Sherlin and Jourdhan entered the house through back door to take water to the flowers while I went to turn off the boiling the potatoes. 

Suddenly, we felt a strong shake.

I could only say in my heart 'God save me'.

I screamed, asking Candidate Sherlin to take Jourdhan to safety and as they went outside, the kitchen fell down. They survived because of God’s protection. 

I could not get out of the house. Jourdhan shouted 'Mama!', and his voice saved me from entering the church building right before it collapsed. I felt my body was lifted up here and there, slammed against something hard and rotated repeatedly. I could not stand. I could do nothing about it. I heard loud noises behind me, and I saw that the wall was cracked as the ground split. Furniture was falling everywhere but I did not understand any of it. 

I could only say in my heart 'God save me'. 

I felt some power encourage me to move, crawl, holding onto a chair, reaching for the window and stand up. I saw a hole  big enough for me to go through, and I ran out of the house.

I was barefoot.

I have never run so fast in my life as I thought the building was going to collapse on me. I reached outside, not knowing that my legs had been torn up trying to escape. 

I survived.

I found Jourdhan with Candidate Sherlin in the church yard, hugging each other while crying out of fear. I cried non-stop in fear. I said to Jourdhan: 'Do not be afraid, son, don’t cry because there is the Lord Jesus and He will help us', but we kept crying.

In the midst of the continuous earthquake, we saw our surroundings: land split into two and cracked everywhere and water coming out of the ground, like a fountain. After moving repeatedly to avoid splitting ground, we chose to sit on the corner of the church compound along with several of the congregation who deliberately went to church to save themselves. 

As I am only human

That night we slept with sky as our roof. I tried to calm panicked Corps members even though, as I am only human, I wished to scream at the top of my lungs because I was afraid and worried too. I tried to remain strong and calm for their sake in order to strengthen them.

In my heart, I kept on praying for God’s help to enable me to hold out until my husband came home, as he was still in Palu. I was worried and assured myself that he was saved and under God’s protection. He arrived late at night in Jono Oge safe and sound, even though he told me he fell down many times as the roads had split and water was coming out of the ground. 

That night we hugged Jourdhan together. The three of us, thankful to God for His salvation to our family and to everybody else in Jono Oge. We knew and believed God was there at that time. God was always by our side even when we were afraid, worried, feeling helpless. We survived the earthquake because of His amazing grace and God gave us a second chance to live.

Life must go on. We must remain strong, rise up and winning with God.

Together We Build Project to rebuild

Every two years, The Salvation Army Women's Ministries around the territory joins together to fundraise for a project. In 2019, WM is joining with the wider Salvation Army to raise money to rebuild three officers' quarters in Central Sulawesi in the Together We Build project.

Our target is $44,500 NZD by the end of 2019, enough for three homes.

We are encouraging all groups, centres and Corps to join us. We also welcome personal donations from individuals so that our target can be achieved. Would you or your group consider making a financial gift to the Together We Build project over 2019? We pray for Susana, Rudi, Jourdhan, Sherlin and all those who are affected by this tragedy. And we lift our hands to help rebuild.

Will you join us?

Contact your local Corps Officer or email us on togetherwebuild@nzf.salvationarmy.org for any help with donating.