Tornado Hits Homes of OPC Missionary’s Family

by David Nakhla, OPC Disaster Response Coordinator (April 2014)

A fierce tornado recently destroyed the homes of the parents and sister of OPC Missionary to Uganda, Eric Tuininga. The F2 tornado struck their small town in eastern North Carolina at 4:00 pm on Monday, April 7, 2014.

Eric’s sister, Carla, was 9 months pregnant when she ran out of the house with a 3 year old in tow about 20 seconds before the tornado destroyed their double-wide mobile home. Thank the Lord all members of the family survived, including the baby in utero, who was subsequently safely delivered on the following Saturday.

In addition to losing the house in which they lived with their 6 (now 7) children, Carla and Mark Van Essendelft lost all of their possessions – including both of their vehicles, their barn, and all of their farm equipment. There is some insurance, but it is far from sufficient to make them whole once again.

Eric’s parents were living in a rented home and have found a suitable home to move into.

Eye-Witness Account

For a detailed eye-witness account of the dramatic events surrounding the tornado, click here to read “I Will Praise You In This Storm,” written by Eric's brother, Matthew Tuininga.

Recovery Efforts

The deacons of Covenant United Reformed Church (URC) in Pantego, North Carolina, are overseeing the recovery efforts. Eric’s father, Calvin J. Tuininga, is the pastor of this church, and the Van Essendelfts are members. The URC is a sister denomination of the OPC – “of like faith and practice.”

If there are opportunities for the OPC to assist with manpower, we will be coordinating our efforts through Reformed Missions Services, a short-term missions/disaster response organization within the URCNA. We are not aware of such needs at this time, but will communicate them to you via the OPC Disaster Response Facebook page if the situation arises.

The OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) is encouraging deacons and churches to consider contributions towards this worthy
cause, given the amount of assistance needed and the relationship that the OPC has to these families.  The CDM has moved to make an initial gift of $10,000 out of its reserves towards this response effort.


Donations may be made payable to “Orthodox Presbyterian Church.”
Please write "NC Tornado Relief” in the memo line.

Mail to:
Committee on Diaconal Ministries
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
607 N. Easton Road, Bldg E.
Willow Grove, PA  19090-2539


Looking for OPC Short-Term Missions? Visit the OPCSTM website

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