Eleven days ago, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake rocked the densely populated Sichuan province in central China. The quake—its epicenter 12 miles deep within Earth’s bowels—was so powerful that tremors were felt as far away as Thailand, Taiwan and India. While buildings in these regions groaned and swayed, thousands of buildings across Sichuan—many bustling with life—crashed to the ground, some capitulating to the furious shiver, others being smashed by house-sized boulders that rolled like marbles down the surrounding mountains.
Within minutes the picturesque Sichuan mountains, waterfalls and forests transformed into an unbearable continuum of blood-stained rubble cloaked in thick layers of dust and peppered with human remains. The province’s deep valleys, home to mountainside towns and resorts, became mass graves as the mountains—shaken by their tectonic lords— reaked and groaned, shedding millions of tons of dirt and debris onto civilization below.
Since the original quake, multiple aftershocks, in addition to heavy rainfall and flooding, have triggered mudslides, hampered relief efforts and terrified survivors already paralyzed with shock. The picture of carnage is hard to fathom: The death toll lies at 70,000, with at least 20,000 more assumed dead, tens of thousands more injured and more than 5 million homeless, their bellies aching with hunger and in desperate need of shelter.
Please join us in prayer for the following:
* There have been many aftershocks since the main earthquake on Monday, and even last night buildings shuddered a couple of times. Up in the mountains these aftershocks are more powerful and are causing landslides that block roads, while buildings already weakened by the original quake sometimes collapse. All this further hampers the already difficult conditions for relief workers. At least the rain has stopped, thankfully.
* There may still be people buried under collapsed buildings who are still alive, but this search and rescue phase seems to be scaling down now in the main population centers. The next hazards to combat are disease and starvation among those who have survived the earthquake. We’ve heard reports of some volunteer workers already getting sick, and of some social unrest in areas where supplies of food and water have not been getting through.
* The numerous dams up in the mountains that have been damaged seem to be holding so far. Water contamination from damaged installations adjacent to rivers and reservoirs is another potential problem.
* Apart from the already staggering figures of people dead or injured by the earthquake, there are several million on top of that who are now homeless and are living in makeshift refugee camps. Of those of working age, many are now also jobless, since their work-places have also been destroyed.
* Chengdu is bracing itself to receive tens of thousands of refugees – orphans first. It is proposed that they will live in tents in the parks and even on the grassy spaces in housing complexes around the city.
* Longer-term, there will need to be a massive rebuilding program, not just of houses and infrastructure, but rebuilding of lives that are psychologically damaged, even after physical wounds have healed. The vast majority of the millions affected by the earthquake do not yet know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yet the pain and heartbreak from this tragedy could be the very catalyst that opens the door for the gospel and brings multitudes to their knees in faith and repentance to receive the Father’s loving embrace.