By Mark Ellis
It was one of the deadliest earthquakes in India’s history, with some villages near the epicenter disappearing completely. One pastor and his team were beginning a mission conference in a five-story hotel only a short distance away. He believes his heartfelt cry to Jesus brought protection for him and his team.
“Around 20,000 people died,” Pastor John recalls of the Gujarat earthquake that hit at 8:46 in the morning on January 26, 2001. Pastor John ministers with Bibles4Mideast.
More than 170,000 were injured and a million left homeless. Many historical buildings were flattened by the 7.7 temblor.
Some structures fell like playing cards, and property damage totaled nearly $8 billion.
“We were about to begin a three-day missionary conference in a hotel in Ghandhidham,” he notes. “Thirty-five pastors had travelled from different parts of India to take part, and had rooms on several floors of the five-story hotel.”
The conference was set to begin at 9 a.m. on the third floor. Pastor John arrived at the room at 8:30 with three others and began their preparations.
“Suddenly, we heard a terrible sound from the ground floor,” he recalls. “We were then startled as the building began to shake violently, like a pendulum. The noise almost deafened us, and it was impossible to even move a step in any direction.”
Pastor John was thrown 16 feet and landed on a raised platform. One wall of the conference room caved in, piercing through the ceiling of the floor below. Air conditioners and fans were tossed about like children’s toys, and tables, chairs and cupboards turned upside down. Within seconds, the hall filled with sand, dust and smoke.