One week ago today, the world woke up to the news that China had been rocked by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake. Yesterday, the China Seismological Bureau revised the magnitude to 8.0. Whatever the number, the reality defies comprehension. The shockwaves from the epicenter in the Sichuan Province were felt several thousand miles away in Hong Kong. Some perspective: that’s like an earthquake in Los Angeles, California being felt in Atlanta, Georgia. This earthquake was so powerful, tremors could be felt in Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Russia.
Having made a number of trips to China over the years, I’ve been deeply impacted by this disaster. During my visits, I developed a close affinity with the people I met. Thanks to their partnership, Dr. Dobson’s commentary is now aired on China National Radio. It’s been gratifying to see how the Chinese have responded so favorably to his advice. But the thought that some of these friends may have been killed in the Sichuan earthquake grieves me.
Watching the news accounts, I’m saddened to see the widespread devastation of property. While the buildings can be rebuilt, the loss of life is numbing . . . not only are there families who’ve lost children, there are so many children who’ve lost their parents or someone to care for them. According to a report in today’s New York Times, 32,476 men, women, and children are confirmed dead. Estimates place another 10,000 as still buried and likely dead. More than 220,000 were injured.
Then there’s the matter of displaced families–the Chinese government is scrambling to provide temporary shelter to 4.8 million homeless people. Put another way, that’s like trying to provide short-term housing for the entire population of the city of Boston. Housing, food, and the business of cleanup and rebuilding will require billions of dollars.
What can we do?
In our home, Jean and I plan to use this event with our boys to awaken in them a heart of compassion for the suffering felt by our friends in that part of the world. As a family we’re praying for those impacted by this disaster. Even in the midst of such destruction, we’re reminding our boys (and ourselves) that God is ultimately in control–even, as Dr. Dobson wrote a number of years ago, When God Doesn’t Make Sense.
And, now that China has officially requested international aid, there’s the option of giving financial assistance to help global relief organizations with their life-saving efforts. There are far too many reputable groups providing the basics of survival to list. However, if you’re in a position to lend a hand, Samaritans Purse, World Vision, and Operation Blessing are a good place to start.
Indeed, more than ever, this is a time for us to be the hands and feet of Jesus.