Ed Karlsen, senior pastor of Papanui Baptist Church, has written this perspective:
Kia ora from Christchurch.
I have been pastoring churches for the past 18 years, but nothing has come near to the scale of what we are experiencing in Christchurch. We are in the northern end, with very little damage in comparison with the east and south east.
Some of the things we are facing:
• People have lost homes and many with damaged homes. Some are still waiting to be inspected from the last quake - in spite of what media says, many are still waiting and will be waiting. This is a long process, without blaming our city or government leaders. We are all learning as we are trying to make progress.• People have lost income and jobs. Although the government and others like Red Cross have promised great things, which we so appreciate, the time all of this will kick in is still weeks away, if not months. Last time many of our people gave up because of the red tape. We responded by setting up our own fund for those affected the most, but this time we cannot fill the needs.
• People are moving on. Most of our people (so far) have decided to stay, although some have moved. We are helping those who need to go. This is difficult for those leaving as they struggle with guilt, but we release and bless, understanding this is their only way to cope.
Daily needs will carry on. We have had a team of people coordinating pastoral care and practical help for our people and our community. Too many stories to tell. I was called to see a Muslim family just down the road from us; I was too late, they had packed up and gone. Many refugees have escaped trauma, but are now reliving another. Our church has the largest ministry to Cambodians in New Zealand, and they are very fearful. We have installed a water purifier in our church to give out clean water - we so appreciate water and power.
God is working. I have seen more compassion, care, help, hugs in this past week that I have witnessed in the past 5 years. We ran two services on Sunday, not knowing if anyone would turn up. People came who had never been to church. People from other churches turned up as many of them could not get to their own.
What can you do? We can feel your prayers and appreciate them.
Please continue to pray for:
1) Elderly and children - they feel very helpless and struggle sleeping through the multiple aftershocks.
2) People to turn to God. This is a window of opportunity for people to ask the bigger questions.
3) Those leading, that they will have strength for the long run.
4) Peace to settle in the hearts of people as we learn to do without.
5) Our priorities to become clear.
6) Unity to be upheld, that anger and bitterness will not have their way.
7) Us to be Christlike in our conduct, giving of ourselves to one another.