As the aftermath of China’s deadliest earthquake in over three decades continues to bring widespread havoc, chaos, and panic, Christians around the world are rushing to scene with aid, supplies, and global appeals for prayer and reflection during these increasingly uncertain times.
"The first thing we're going to do is get water, food and shelter to those who are in need,” said Jeff Palmer of the Baptist Global Response, according to Mission Network News.
Although many Christian organizations spoke of the challenges of responding to the second major disaster so soon after the cyclone that ravaged across Burma two weeks ago, Christian groups said they would be undeterred in their efforts to serve and provide for those in need.
“It's the love of Christ that compels us, and we are commanded to help those who are in need,” Palmer explained.
World Vision, which has a community development center just 200 kilometers from the earthquake’s epicenter, was among the quickest to respond to the crisis, and Franklin Graham, who is currently touring through China on a goodwill tour, said that his relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, would send aid “immediately.”
In a press release, Church World Service said that it expected, along with its Chinese-based partner organization, Amity Foundation, to budget a total of $1.5 million to help fund relief efforts throughout affected areas.
More importantly, however, was the need for what Christians described as a moment of prayer, unity, and reliance on God during crisis.
“[We call] upon the world churches to pray for and provide aid for the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan province. [We mourn] with the suffering Chinese people during this moment of great loss,” the China Aid Association said.
"Prayer is the strategy that we want to mobilize, first and foremost – praying for those who are in suffering, those who've lost family members, those already responding to the effort, [and] also pray for wisdom and knowledge of how to respond,” Palmer explained.
The 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which struck China’s southwestern Sichuan province Monday, has claimed at least 19,500 lives. But the State Council, the country's Cabinet, said the number could rise to some 50,000, state TV reported, as nearly 26,000 remained missing or buried underneath debris.
The earthquake is the nation’s deadliest since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that leveled the city of Tangshan in 1976.