The team's septic field generated a lot of interest in the community. (Photo courtesy of WorldServe)
China (MNN) ― WorldServe Ministries is making progress on the Sichuan Hope Center. A team of 11 people recently traveled to the property to build a bathroom and a septic field.
They were not able to build the bathroom because they could not obtain approval for the construction. However, they made progress on the septic field and received general approval for the project from government officials.
The project is unprecedented in China because it is actually driven by the underground house church movement. When an earthquake took almost 87,000 lives on May 12, 2008, the underground church brought 1500 people to the affected area within 48 hours of the disaster. The resource center will serve as a location for the church to minister to earthquake survivors.
Over a year after the earthquake, many still live in temporary shelters. The center will serve residents in two communities full of people who have lost their homes and everything else.
"We're kind of right there in the middle of two communities that have been set up by the Chinese government," said WorldServe's Brian Rushton. "These people have lost everything... and they're just in temporary shelters. So we're going to be able to be a phenomenal resource to the people -- to the seniors and the young people -- and it's just going to be a great place for them to come and get connected and get some help."
The center will provide a youth center, resources for seniors, vocational training, ESL instruction, computer training, grief counseling, and discipleship. Thirty acres of fruit orchards will be used to train people in farming and help the center become self-sustaining.
The government had been treating the center as a very low-priority project, but that changed when the team from North America came out to work.
"All of a sudden the profile of this particular project went from way down low to almost a high priority, because they saw people from foreign countries coming over to work at the site," Rushton explained. "So it moved it way up on the priority scale. And the key leaders over there were so encouraged by our presence...that now the government officials were actually looking at the project and really considering what we were going to do."
A communist official actually provided the land for the center because the ministry of the underground church in the aftermath of the quake impressed him so much.
The man "was so impressed with the way that people came and served and worked and loved the people he loves as well," Rushton said. "So he made it possible for us to acquire this piece of property. We're able to expand the ministry as a result of the testimony that the people had there and God touching this man's heart."
While the team was working on the septic field at the center, a university class came to visit. The class is responsible for resolving a sewage situation in another community was astounded by what they saw at the resource center.
"They could not believe the way we do it here in North America," Rushton said. "They could not understand that concept at all. So...we actually got an invitation to go back and consult for another community to help them handle their sewage problem. And again, just being there opened so many more doors. God took gave us a far bigger perspective than we could ever imagine."
In the next step, a team from Engineering Ministries International will travel to the center to do the surveying and draw up the plans for the project. Then, WorldServe needs to raise the funds for the project. It will cost $2.6 million to build the resource center and run it for three years until it becomes self-sufficient. Your contribution can help accomplish this goal.