China (MNN) — Today marks the second anniversary of one of the worst disasters in recent history: the Sichuan earthquake. While the official death toll is just shy of 69,000, reports say there are still nearly 18,000 people recorded as missing.
Brian Rushton, Vice President of Partner Relations for WorldServe Ministries, says they were supporting Chinese believers humanitarian efforts within days of the quake. "1,500 people responded to come and help right in the area immediately. Of that, we were able to continue funding 400 of them for the next year."
According to Rushton, the commitment of Chinese believers in the region made an incredible difference physically and spiritually. "The first year, 15,000 people came to Christ. The second year, we've seen another 10,000 come to Jesus Christ. But that's only because we had people on the ground who were willing to go alongside and bring resources, sit and talk with the people, hear their story, and then share with them the hope of Christ."
Because of the number of new Christians, Rushton says churches have been planted. "Over 430 churches have been established. And they continue to grow. Those churches are caring for the people, helping them not only build homes but also find business opportunities."
Rushton says as these churches are established and discipleship is taking place, they're beginning to see community transformation. While there are many orphaned children, there are also many seniors facing a similar situation. "Some of the seniors lost their whole social network because their family was killed off. So, who is going to care for these orphaned seniors? The church needs to pick up that responsibility."
Christians who are working in the region need prayer desperately. "They see so much pain still. There's a process of growing weary in that. Pray that they will not grow weary in ministering, because there's still so much devastation."
WorldServe continues to help the national church there. If you'd like to help, click here.