China (MNN) — While the headlines are turning to the Olympic Games in Beijing, China's earthquake survivors are still in great need. That's according to WorldServe Ministries, a Christian organization helping in the rural regions devastated by the earthquake that struck Chengdu two months ago. In the wake of the disaster, there is good news and bad news.
WorldServe's Vice President for Operations Ken Leggatt says the good news is this: "We've seen at least about 5,000 individuals accept Christ through the ministry work of the teams that we have on the field in China. They've been able to share the hope that we have in Christ with those people."
More than 69,000 people died, and nearly 20,000 people are still missing. Four million were left homeless.
Leggatt says Chinese believers have been ones doing the work. "We have about 400 seminary students and 800 volunteers from all over China who responded to put teams together to minister in these areas. And these people have been working tirelessly and often haven't had even the amount of meals that the survivors have had."
WorldServe has also established a temporary school. "Many of these kids," Leggatt says, "they were crying. They were upset. So the ministry workers we have there were basically working as counselors."
The disaster has been the beginning of new ministry. Leggatt says, "This is turning into a two to five year strategy for the house church movement in China. Many of them want to come in and stay in these communities that have been affected by the earthquake, to establish new house churches, and work in caring for, praying for, and ministering to the people in these areas."
This strategy isn't without risk. "Conditions are still tight in China, all over–especially for the house church. It's not a state-sanctioned religious body that we are working with. It is a risky environment for people who are sharing the Gospel."
Reports indicate that in three months the Chinese government will be ending all relief assistance in the region. "If this is true–and the word is that it is, in three months time many of these people will be without the resources they need to survive through the winter," says Leggatt.
That means the church can pick up where the government left off, but that means more funding is needed to help the church with food, clothing, and other needed supplies.
Many of the government troops will be heading back, too. Leggatt says reports indicate some of them have been open to the Gospel. Pray that many will respond to God's call.