Aiding China's Shaken Church
What are the BGEA and Samaritan's Purse doing to help?
Samaritan's Purse committed $150,000; the BGEA also committed $150,000 to help with the churches in Sichuan Province. Samaritan's Purse is also sending a 747 with about $600,000 in supplies: plastic sheeting, water purification systems, mosquito nets, and hygiene kits. The Chinese government has asked for these items, and most of it we already had in our inventory.
How would you compare the Chinese government's response with Myanmar's?
We could all learn from China. After Hurricane Katrina it took almost a week for our government to ramp up and respond. Within hours after this earthquake, [China's government] mobilized 50,000 troops. Their civil defense people went into action. The next day, as they began to see how much devastation there was, they mobilized more troops. They just did a tremendous job. The government in Myanmar has absolutely doneI don't want to say nothing, but next to nothing, it seems. And they have hindered the recovery effort and the aid effort. Now I don't know why, but we have had favor with the government of Myanmar. They have given visas to our people. We have had three flights go in, with about 60 tons that we've been able to deliver. They've given us access now to the [Irawaddy] Delta area. There are other relief agencies that are much larger and better equipped than we are, and for some reason a lot of these groups have been denied.
(Note: United Nations officials announced Friday that Myanmar's junta has agreed to allow all aid workers into the Irawaddy Delta delta area.)
How are Chinese Christians able to help in China?
There are churches in Sichuan Province, and our financial gift is for them. Churches will have to be rebuilt. Christians lost their lives, their homes, and the church wanted to respond but didn't have the resources. We wanted to give them a little war chest, so to speak, something they could draw upon. They were also going to raise money from churches in China, but they're not in a position to give a lot. I saw this as a kind of seed gift to help them get started.
The devastation in Sichuan Province is massive. Not only are the buildings collapsed, the infrastructure is collapsed. The roads are gone, the water systems, the electrical systems, everything is disintegrated. It's going to be a lot of work.
How can Christianity Today readers help?
Pray for the Christians in China. Every pastor, every church member that I had a chance to speak with was optimistic about the future.
This was before the earthquake, or after the earthquake?
Before and after. The government of China seems to see the value that the church offers and sees a role that the church can play in society. And each year the church is gaining ground.
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"Managing a Crisis," which accompanies this article, discusses the long-term plans for aid in China and Burma.