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Chinese churches rally to provide earthquake relief


Cross and rubble in front of Mianzhu Church.

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Pastor Yuan distributing milk packets
Pastor Yuan distributing milk packets

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Mennonite Church Canada/Mennonite Partners in China joint release For immediate release
May 22, 2008
- Myrrl Byler

NANCHONG, China - “I just felt so sad when I saw their suffering.”

These were the best words in English that Pastor Yuan Shiguo could find to express what he experienced during a visit to Mianzhu, an area devastated by the earthquake. About 60 kilometers off the main road between Chengdu and Mianyang, the city of Mianzhu experienced significant damage, but still people are trying to find ways to help those in the small towns and villages in the surrounding area.

On Sunday, May 18, Pastor Yuan and a group of youth from the church in Chengdu loaded up 8 mini-vans and SUVs with supplies and headed to Mianzhu. The church youth group took in donations to purchase water, instant noodles and milk while Mennonite Partners in China supporting agencies provided funds to purchase basic medications. Mennonite Church Canada Witness is an MPC partner.

After reaching the Mianzhu Church, which received significant damage, the group had a short worship service at which Pastor Yuan preached and encouraged the believers. In the city there were two Christians who lost their lives, and others were injured. After the service, the local pastors arranged for the eight vehicles to divide and drive to 8 different villages outside of Mianzhu. The roads leading to these villages are mainly one-lane dirt roads, muddy and at times damaged by the earthquake.

Each of the eight villages has about 1,000 residents, and almost all of the homes and buildings have collapsed into heaps of rubble. The majority of the people were in the fields working when the earthquake occurred at 2:30 pm limiting loss of life. However everything that the farmers own is now buried in rubble: scythes used to harvest the winter wheat and canola, basic pots and pans forcooking.

An urgent need for these villagers is temporary shelter. While the government is providing tents for cities and the thousands who are coming there, the villagers Pastor Yuan visited are using scraps of cardboard and plastic to provide some shelter from the sun and rain. While tents are now in very short supply, MPC did purchase and deliver 100 tents.

While a driver of a relief vehicle navigate a road, Pastor Yuan encountered a grandmother with her grandson, begging for milk. To her surprise, Yuan was able to give her several small cartons of milk, the first for the young child since the earthquake occurred.

The Chinese government and many international organizations are responding in significant ways.

Contributions for earthquake relief can be made to Mennonite Church Canada Witness or Mennonite Central Committee.