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Love calls new Christian to earthquake aid
June 5, 2008
CHONGQING, China — Lindy* was working at her part-time office job when the earthquake struck on May 12. Right away she wanted to help. But where? And how? Her boss told her she could not have time off because there was no one else available to do her work.
“I prayed, ‘Please send me to a place where people need to know your love, and show me what I can do for them,’” Lindy says. The next day a replacement worker appeared. Lindy viewed the worker’s arrival as an answer to prayer, so when the Agape Church called for volunteers to assist earthquake survivors in the small community of Pengzhou in Sichuan province, she was ready to go.
Just before Christmas 2007, Lindy, a senior English major at Chongqing Medical university, was baptized in the Chongqing Agape Christian Church in response to the love of God that she had experienced at a Christmas Eve worship service two years earlier.
After China’s devastating earthquake, Lindy felt called to show that same love of God to earthquake survivors.
On May 20-22, Lindy and five other Agape Church members traveled to Pengzhou, not far from the earthquake’s epicentre. They delivered a vanload of food, soap, and other essentials to members of a local church. They also brought encouragement and comfort.
None of the Pengzhou church members died in the quake, though their houses and church building were damaged. Their faith, however, remained intact.
“They love God so much, although they’ve been hurt by the earthquake,” Lindy says. “I was moved that they continued to worship outdoors, under umbrellas.”
Lindy also heard stories–“coincidences,” she calls them–of people who escaped injury and death. An elderly woman, for example, who normally naps until 3 p.m., awakened at 1 p.m. on the afternoon of May 12, and was outdoors when the tremor struck at 2:28 p.m.
Lindy is aware of the sharp challenges being posed to Chinese Christians in the earthquake’s wake such as, “How could your God allow such a tragedy to happen?” Her response to such questions is careful and thoughtful: “I think our God will not do something with no purpose. Now we can’t see God’s purpose. Maybe in the future we will see [this disaster] as a chance for Christians to send love to people who don’t know Jesus.”
When the Pengzhou survivors expressed gratitude to their Chongqing sisters and brothers for the food they had brought, Lindy and her friends replied, “Thank God–there is a God who loves you.”
Lindy’s own faith is rooted in her deep sense of being loved by her Lord. “Jesus will comfort me when I am sad, he will give me confidence when I am weak,” she says, with conviction. Since the earthquake, she has found Psalm 121:1-2 especially meaningful. She recites it and mimes: “I lift my eyes unto the hills–from where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
But visiting the disaster area has caused her to think more deeply about her faith. “I could give a person a glass of water when he is thirsty,” she reflects. “I could put on a coat when he is cold. I could wipe his tears when he drops tears. I could comfort him with words when he is sad. We could give some food and clothes to the people who were attacked in the earthquake. However, this is just for temporary help. It is only God who can placate their heart, heal their spirit, and save their soul.”
Showing God’s love, and offering that “temporary help,” go together for Lindy. The Agape Church is now seeking persons to help care for earthquake survivors who have been brought to Chongqing hospitals, many suffering severe and long-term injuries. Though she has planned to start a new job after her graduation next month, Lindy is considering how she might volunteer.
And her motivation is the same that led her to go to Pengzhou: “I wanted to let people in the disaster area know that there is a God who loves all people.”
*“Lindy” is a pseudonym
Philip Bender and his wife, Julie Bender, are workers in China with MC Canada Witness through Mennonite Partners in China.
To read the story of Lindy’s baptism, view: www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/625