By Linda Bloom*
SHANGHAI (UMNS) — A United Methodist delegation visiting Christians in China said the denomination will assist in providing relief to the earthquake survivors in southwest Sichuan Province.
The April 20 earthquake, centered in Ya'an, borders the area where a devastating earthquake occurred in 2008. This time, 188 people had been reported dead by April 22, with 25 missing and 11,460 injured.
As the delegation met April 22 with officials and staff of the China Christian Council, Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, announced a grant to the council's Social Service Department.
"We would like to make an immediate donation of $10,000 as an expression of our solidarity," he told the council. That grant, along with a $10,000 grant to the Amity Foundation, a Christian organization and long-time partner, will come from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
The two groups also joined in prayer on behalf of the 1.5 million affected by the earthquake.
Chen Yue, a staff member of the Social Service Department, said that four local Christian councils have started to help with earthquake relief and already were delivering supplies — bed kits, food, water, clothes, candles, and disinfectants. Assistance also is being provided by the church in Ya'an. "The church is now open for refugees," she said.
The Amity Foundation reported that two staff, Shu Junsong and Zhang Chao, arrived in the earthquake area early on April 21 to make an initial assessment and work on the purchase and distribution of relief goods. They were joined later by two more Amity staff and are working in the Tianquan and Baoxing townships.
Students who board at Tianquan Middle School have been evacuated to tents on the playground as the aftershocks continue. Amity provided 15 tents, along with bottled water, sausages, and instant noodles. Students have 50 days to study before the national university entrance exams.
Support relief efforts in China and elsewhere in the world when disaster strikes with your gift to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York.