China (MNN) — The citizens of the Sichuan province in China are still suffering heavy losses after being hit by a devastating earthquake in May 2008. The quake killed over 69,000 people and displaced thousands more.
Although the catastrophe occurred almost a year ago, the scars of its effects are still fresh. Many people in China have not yet returned to their homes and remain in temporary, plywood structures. Some were left unemployed after the disaster, and these numbers have only grown in the presence of a global economic crisis. Mentally, many people have been unable to cope with the loss of family members and have been overcome by depression.
"One of the things that's come out of this disaster is that it has radically changed people's worldview," says Ken Leggatt of WorldServe Ministries. "People are desperately thirsty for hope."
WorldServe sent volunteers to China directly after the earthquake to bring that hope through Jesus Christ. After just two months in the region, the ministry saw about 5,000 people come to Christ. WorldServe now endeavors to build the Sichuan Hope Center, to continue to bring light into a bleak region.
"While we can't employ everybody, we would like to have a place where people can come for counseling," says Leggatt. "We would like to have a place where people can come to learn about Christ. We'd like to have a place where [people's] children can experience some hope and experience the Gospel in a practical way. That's really why we're developing the Hope Center."
The ministry plans to reach people on multiple levels, reaching out to both believers and nonbelievers through a variety of aid.
"It'll be a real holistic approach to equipping the believers in that area through physical needs, through developing spiritual relationships with Christ with them, discipleship programs and even some other vocational training as well," says Leggatt.
The Hope Center will offer pastoral training, children's camps and even an agricultural program. Through its various ministries at the Sichuan Hope Center, WorldServe will help to rebuild the community and the body of Christ.
After encountering so much loss, a tremendous amount of prayer is needed for the people of Sichuan. "People are desperately thirsty for hope, and the Gospel message of Christ is our hope," says Leggatt. "We're coming to them with that message. Just pray that people would continue to be open and thirsty to hear that."
Pray also that the necessary funding would be provided to build and operate the Hope Center. If you would like to donate, click here.