The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sending humanitarian aid to Tonga in the aftermath of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption.
Officials said, "Scientists believe the explosion was bigger than any nuclear detonation ever conducted.
"There are about 16.6 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe and Tonga has the highest percentage (63 percent) of members than any country in the world. More than 4,000 Latter-day Saints live in the greater Chattanooga area. They are joining with people of all faiths in praying for those in Tonga who are in need of heaven’s blessings.
"The Church, in coordination with the Tonga and New Zealand governments and other aid organizations, has begun the process of sending food, fuel, water, masks and other necessities.
The Church is organizing air cargo shipments and has sent tanks of water from Church schools on the main island to the outer islands.
"BBC News has reported on Church emergency efforts. Like its response in other parts of the world when disaster strikes, the Church draws on its Humanitarian Aid Fund where 100% of funds are used to help the poor and needy – regardless of race, religion or ethnic origin. Tonga is just one example of Church humanitarian efforts.
"Last year, according to officials, the Church contributed to 155 projects in 50 countries.
"The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also sent a letter to members of the Church in Tonga expressing their love and assuring them that 'people of faith and goodwill around the world are praying for you' and promising that 'we will stand with you over the coming months to assist you as you recover.' The letter was signed by President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.
"The Church has 116 meetinghouses in Tonga. None were structurally damaged. The Church also runs six schools, including the Liahona High School, which is being used as a place of gathering.
"In response to the difficulties of life and circumstances beyond our control, President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has taught we should 'make time for The Lord…. The Lord knows you and loves you. He is your Savior and your Redeemer…He will lead and guide you in your personal life if you will make time for Him in your life – each and every day' (Nelson, Oct. 2021, Make Time for the Lord)."
"With the Lord’s help, onward and forward we go,” said Elder Ian S. Ardern, Pacific Area president of the Church, who is directly involved in Tongan support efforts.