What can we do as a church from Otago?
First we can pray! I know people are praying individually, and in groups. In particular, those people trapped in collapsed buildings need our prayers.
We are opening East Taieri Church for an extra time of prayer at
Wednesday 23rd February.
Second, people with specialist skills may be needed to assist emergency services in Christchurch. I know that medical folks from ET Church have already been contacted about relieving staff in Christchurch.
Third, we need to check in with friends and family here in case they have loved ones badly affected by the earthquake and so need our pastoral support. Talking and praying together can be a great comfort.
Fourth, we need to be sensible and safe ourselves in our desire to help. We will not help the people of Christchurch by clogging phone lines and roads by rushing up there in an uncoordinated way. In due course we will be talking with contacts in Christchurch such as through Horby Presbyterian Community Church to offer assistance as we did after the September 4th earthquake. At the appropriate time there may be need for teams to assist with the clean up, or people willing to host Christchurch people for a break away from the city.
Finally we need to place our trust in God who can see us through all things. God's love and mercy comes to us even in the difficult times (like the valley of the shadow of death in Psalm 23). As I wrote on my blog after the first earthquake, it is not helpful to suggest that this represents God's judgement on Christchurch. Jesus didn't equate people dying in a disaster with their sin (Luke 13:1-5). In Dunedin, we are as much sinners as people in Christchurch. Rather than making simplistic judgements, let's offer our compassion and our prayers.