CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (BP)–Two weeks after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake demolished much of Christchurch, New Zealand, emergency workers are pulling bodies from the rubble and residents are being told to keep boiling or treating drinking water.
A New Zealand Baptist leader has asked believers worldwide to pray for their country during a time of unprecedented struggle.
“This is a time of severe trauma and unchartered territory for all people,” Kelvyn Fairhall, national administrator of Baptist Churches of New Zealand, said in a statement sent to the Baptist Global Response relief and development organization. “There will be huge questions and issues that our pastors and their leaders have to grapple with over the next few days, weeks and months.”
Churches in New Zealand have partnered with each other or with relief agencies to form hubs of operation, Fairhall added.
“They are all working hard to respond to the needs around them,” Fairhall said. “At the same time, a weariness is setting in as the stress, lack of sleep and drain on resources increase.”
The Feb. 22 earthquake killed at least 166 people, according to news reports. While electricity has been restored to 98 percent of households in the city of more than 375,000, the central business district remains without power.
The February quake actually was an enormous aftershock from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the area in September 2010, news reports noted. Aftershocks have been a frustrating, even frightening part of everyday life in Christchurch. On March 9 alone, 12 aftershocks rattled the city, the largest a 4.1 temblor, according to www.geonet.org.nz.
Baptist Global Response has been in touch with Christian networks in New Zealand to determine both short-term and long-term relief needs, said Ben Wolf, who with his wife Pam directs BGR work in the Asia Rim.
“We will be working with partners in New Zealand to see how we can come alongside them in their recovery,” Wolf said. “This is similar to the relief situation in Australia after the flooding there; everything is coordinated through the government. We will continue to consult with local leadership to assess needs and determine if, when and how Southern Baptists might assist during this time of need.“
Fairhall shared five specific ways people can pray for New Zealanders:
— Wisdom for pastors on questions like where a congregation can meet when their church building is demolished.
— Patience for families who have taken people in need into their homes.
— Accommodations for those who have lost their homes.
— Restful nights so people can deal with the stress of the next day.
— The ability to be able to cope with the continuing fear and trauma with the aftershocks coming day after day.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor and senior writer for Baptist Press. Baptist Global Response is on the Internet at www.gobgr.org.