The world watched in horror Monday as a jolting 7.9 magnitude earthquake – the latest in a series of global natural disasters – wreaked havoc across China’s southwestern Sichuan province.
The earthquake, the worst natural disaster to strike the Middle Kingdom in over three decades, left an estimated 12,000 dead, with thousands more reportedly injured and desperately trapped under the debris of fallen buildings. Xinhua News Agency reported that 18,645 people were still buried in and around Mianyang, a city about 60 miles east of the epicenter.
As condolences and aid began pouring in from other countries, Christian groups were among the first to respond.
World Vision, which has a community development center just 200 kilometers from the earthquake’s epicenter, was just one of the many Christian organizations that said that it had relief and aid workers ready to deploy at any notice.
Franklin Graham, who is currently traveling through China on a goodwill tour in support of the country’s rapidly growing Christian community, indicated that his relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, would be ready to send aid immediately during a meeting with Chinese officials.
Graham, whose mother was born in China, has often spoken openly of his love for the nation and its readiness to receive the Gospel.
On Sunday, Graham described the country as a “great hope” after preaching powerfully of Jesus Christ to over 12,000 people at Hangzhou Chong-Yi Christian Church, the nation’s largest megachurch. Over 1,000 people in attendance responded immediately to Graham’s invitation to become followers of Jesus Christ.
The Chinese government, in response, has said that it would welcome all international aid and relief.
The earthquake is said to be China’s worst since 1976, when over 200,000 people perished in the city of Tangshan after it was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Monday’s earthquake so soon after the cyclone disaster in Burma has raised attention to the prompt readiness and dedication of Christian relief organizations.