China (MNN) — The 6.6 magnitude earthquake sent tremors through northwest China last Monday morning, but not in the news headlines.
94 were killed and 1,001 injured by the earthquake in Gansu province.
123,000 people were affected and around 31,600 fled to temporary shelters, according to the provincial earthquake administration.
Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response (BGR) explains why the earthquake didn’t have the same impact in the news. “It’s a very remote area and a little bit of a security concern area for the government of China…. And because of everything else that’s been happening in the news, it’s just kind of one of those things that’s been off the radar.”
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has sent relief materials including 20,000 tents, 10,000 folding beds and 30,000 cotton quilts. The security issue concerns restrictions on foreigners coming in and giving aid to this devastated people group.
Palmer says it’s because China sees this people group as living on the outskirts of society. “[They are] people groups that are not main people groups within the Chinese world. There [are] some of the Muslim folks that are in the area and relationship issues that are there. So part of the security is outsiders or foreigners access to the area.”
However, that hasn’t stopped BGR from helping. “One of the neat things that we’ve been able to do is work through local partners who help us get over that barrier of foreigners going into the area…. So we don’t have to deal with the hang-ups and we can get the necessary lifeline items to those that are in need,” says Palmer.
BGR’s partners have trained crews distributing aid like food, water, shelter, and healthcare items. The Chinese Christians responding to the disaster have gained positive attention from their government.
Palmer says, “Because of the fact of the earthquakes that have happened there before and because of the response we’ve done with these partners they’ve gained a lot of credibility even though they are followers of Christ. Within many countries like China there’s some suspicion of that. But at the same time, these folks have demonstrated in deed and what they’ve done in a way that has really opened up doors.”
There are incredible opportunities for the Gospel. “Maybe for the first time ever, many of these people who are in crisis mode who have been affected and devastated by the earthquake, they’re coming in contact with followers of Jesus Christ,” Palmer shares.
Please pray for BGR partners distributing aid. Pray for conversations that will lead to witnessing about Jesus Christ. Pray for hope and healing for earthquake victims.
You can help BGR’s efforts by donating to their General Disaster Fund here.