China (MNN) — The death toll may rise to 50,000 after an earthquake that struck in Sichuan province four days ago. In one town, an entire school building collapsed, devastating many families in a country where the one-child policy means that parents lose their only son or daughter.
China Partner has partners on the ground. Their contact, Reverend Cai, who started and
directs a Christian Humanitarian organization called Hua Mei International, is also a local pastor and has taught at a Bible school in Chengdu. Cai reported that there was no damage to
their facilities, and none of their staff was killed in the earthquake. One of Cai's staff e-mailed China Partner's Erik Burklin saying, "Even now, day two, life has returned to normal in most parts of Sichuan. Buses and trains are running. Schools have either already started holding classes or will early next week. The daily ebb and flow of life is coming back. Please continue with your plans to come to Sichuan."
That is a sign of hope amidst the wreckage that is still being sifted through.
The trip the man referred to in the e-mail was China Partner's trip this summer planned for lay pastor training in two cities very near the quake's epicenter. However, the new situation may mean they'll be working through Cai's humanitarian organization to do relief work. "Our team is ready to do whatever we can and however they feel they would like to use us," said Burklin. Constant rain has made the relief effort more difficult. In the next few months, the need for rebuilding will be tremendous.
Their second trip is with Burklin's local church to do an English camp in a high school south of Chengdu. That trip is also still on.
The government has taken notice of the work that Christians do, and China Partner agrees with the May issue of Christianity Today which reported: "Many Chinese people think Christians are trustworthy. Christians have good reputations. During many disasters in China, churches were involved in relief work to poor areas, and even the government was encouraged. Churches are having an influence by being examples of moral behavior."
The superstitious notions of many in China cause them to believe that tragedies like the earthquake happen as a punishment from God or because of an evil spirit. The questions
of "why" open doors for Christians to talk about the hope and truth of Christ. While Christians help provide for the physical needs, they are also able to fill deep spiritual needs, too. "The
beautiful thing is that we as believers, and Christians in China right now–those who love Jesus and follow Him-can show their Christian love to these neighbors of theirs with a very practical way of serving them. And as a result of that, I really believe many will come to faith," said Burklin.
Pray that God will provide His servants with the assistance and strength they need to fulfill the
task they are doing. Pray that doors will open for the Gospel to be shared and for many to accept Christ as their Savior.
If you can help financially with the aid effort, checks can be made out and sent to China Partner earmarked "earthquake." They will pass those contributions to Hua Mei.