This is the first of two postings by the Rev. Franklin Ishida, director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission. Find more information at www.elca.org/disaster and find related pictures at www.imageevent.com/chinaearthquake Thank you, Franklin! Sue
Just earlier this week, one more in countless aftershocks killed one person. It measured 6.1 on the Richter scale.
Today, I was in the town of Han Wang, at the foothills of where more devastation occurred. We couldn’t go further because the road is cut off at the river (and there are severe security restrictions on access).
I have photos that can tell the tale of devastation in a place that has not really been cleaned up yet. I will post these soon.
But let me say that it’s hard to describe, whether in photos or in words, the utter desolateness of the destruction. Sure, some buildings are left standing. But what’s left of so much is piles of rubble. And to think of the death that lay under that rubble, the loss of homes, the loss of businesses, the loss of life in all its expressions. One could only walk quietly through the rubble-strewn streets wondering … with great grief …
And yet there is hope. Pastor Gu Yumei in neighboring Mianzhu spoke of how the church is providing assistance to countless people, reaching out beyond its members. She spoke of tireless efforts to provide comfort and material support. She spoke of the church needing to be rebuilt bigger and better, because weekly attendance had gone from 200 before the earthquake (including at 21 preaching points) to more than 800 now.
It’s going to be a long-term process.
And the ELCA has been there. An initial $40,000 was provided to the church in Sichuan Province for relief effort. And this was not it, assistance from other churches around the world poured in. The Taiwan Lutheran Church, for example, has provided personnel and a van to work relief efforts. Pastoral care teams from Taiwan have been serving in shifts. [At some point very soon, ELCA members wishing to be part of relief teams of the Taiwan Lutheran Church can volunteer.]
A three-phase proposal is being worked on by ELCA Global Mission.
Your help is needed. Your continued contributions to ELCA International Disaster Response and the China earthquake fund will help make this work happen. And beyond disaster response or World Hunger categories, other funds will need to be raised. So please keep posted on all this.
More information to follow on this visit.
Y. Franklin Ishida
Director for Asia and the Pacific
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America