A poignant story has emerged out of Des Moines, Iowa, of five young African refugee children who recently lost both their father and mother in separate, heartbreaking incidents. Amidst the sorrow, however, a bright spot has emerged – their church, pastor and the public have responded to the children’s needs in a huge way.

The family of Bazirake Kayira came to Des Moines as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo two years ago, the CBS affiliate KCCI 8 reports. Kayira was killed in a car crash recently, leaving behind five young children. His wife – the children’s mother – died last August during childbirth. The children’s grandparents – Regina Nyanzira and Katwire Mwesigie – are attempting to raise the children on their own, but are destitute themselves, according to the family’s pastor, Eugene Kiruhura of Shalom Covenant Church in Urbandale, Iowa.

While the church mourns, Pastor Kiruhura put out a call for help via a fundraising site.

“My name is Pastor Eugene Kiruhura,” he wrote on his GoFundMe appeal. “It is with heavy hearts we are asking for your donations and prayers for the family of Bazirake Kayira. Bazirake was one of the African refugee/immigrant community members living in Des Moines, he died Friday afternoon after crashing his vehicle into a creek during the ice storm. Four months ago Bazirake lost his wife during childbirth. He leaves behind five children. We are raising funds to help assist with his funeral expenses and any extra funds will go into an account reserved for the children. Keep these children in your prayers this is very sudden and extremely shocking for them to lose both parents like this in a short period of time.

“Thank You and God bless you.

“Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

The public’s response has been nothing short of a miracle.

In the first four days of the appeal, Pastor Kiruhura has raised over $300,000 from nearly 5,000 donors. On January 4 he posted the following comment: “We are overwhelmed by the support from the community. We thank all donors who continue to support this cause. The money you give will be put towards funeral expenses, basic needs for the five children, and a safe home so they can still live safely together with their grandparents.”

It is in times of tragedy when the local church and the greater body of Christ have the ability to exemplify the love of the Savior in a meaningful way. For one devastated family in Iowa trying to start a new life in America, that love will manifest in tangible help and resources moving forward. For the rest of us, this story is a reminder of our duty to love and care for one another, and thereby proclaim Christ to the world.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40 (ESV).

Photo from GoFundMe.