Notable members of the Christian community have issued an urgent call to prayer after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake rocked central Mexico Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 217 people and devastating buildings.
The powerful earthquake struck near the town of Raboso in Puebla, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City, the U.S. Geological Survey reported, hitting on the 32nd anniversary of the biggest quake to ever strike the country’s capital.
After the federal government declared a state of disaster in Mexico City, dozens of Christian leaders took to social media to issue calls for prayer.
“It seems like over the last few weeks I keep asking you to join me in praying, again and again, for victims of storms and disasters,” Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook.
“The Bible tells us that we should ‘continue steadfastly in prayer.’ We must not grow weary, but continue to take the needs of others to our Father in Heaven. So, let’s pray for our neighbors who are suffering, that God would put His loving arms around them and bring the comfort that only He can give.”
Tweeted Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas: “Join me in praying for all affected by the devastating earthquake in Mexico City. Our hearts break for those who have lost loved ones.”
Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas, tweeted: “Seeing the devastation in Mexico City is heartbreaking. We pray for everyone impacted by this earthquake.”
Mark Burns, pastor of Harvest Praise & Worship Center in South Carolina, tweeted that he is “praying” for Mexico City.
Christian actress Roma Downey tweeted: “My prayers are with everyone in Mexico City,” later adding, “Praying tonight for all those impacted by these natural disasters.”
Rapper Lecrae shared images of the aftermath on Twitter along with the caption “heartbreaking.”
President Donald Trump also sent his support in a tweet: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you,” he wrote.
In its preliminary assessment, the United States Geological Survey predicted 100 to 1,000 fatalities and economic losses of between $100 million and $1 billion for an earthquake of this scale. NPR’s Jon Hamilton notes that the densely populated city is “especially vulnerable to earthquakes, because much of it is built on a former lake bed, which can amplify the effects of distant quakes.”
Late Tuesday, President Enrique Peña Nieto urged calm in a video message, saying “the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people.”
He said 40 percent of the capital and 60 percent of neighboring Morelos state were without power.