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Christchurch - New Zealand, Japan and Haiti Earthquakes

 February 2011 

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February was a month of incredible turmoil and heartbreak in New Zealand (NZ). On 22nd February 2011, we suffered a catastrophic earthquake centred in the city of Christchurch. Our Prime Minister called a State of Emergency. About 180 people have been killed. Help poured in from many countries for which we are truly grateful. It has been suggested that February 22nd could go down in our history as our National Day of mourning as 9/11 has been to America.

I was working on February's newsletter when Japan also had a terrible earthquake on March 11th. So far 9,199 are confirmed dead and another 13,786 are missing. About 300,000 or more are left homeless. A nuclear power station is facing possible meltdowns and is leaking radiation into the atmosphere. There are now widespread electricity shortages which is predicted will cause big economic problems for Japan.

More than 50 million people have been affected either directly or indirectly, with 10 million facing severe after affects. The earthquake in Japan has been far worse than in NZ because of the subsequent tsunami which caused the bulk of the devastation. Japan's Prime Minister has also declared a State of Emergency, describing the disaster as his country's worst crisis since World War II.

My mind goes back to the Haiti earthquake last year in 2010 in which more than 300,000 were killed and left 1 million homeless. This was already a very poor country, and it will be many years before they can fully recover as a nation.

Our hearts go out to all those who are going through unimaginable grief and suffering, having lost loved ones, homes and their way of life.

In the city of Christchurch and in the cities badly affected in Japan and Haiti, everyone will know someone who has either died or lost someone close to them. Christians and non-Christians alike have died.

People everywhere are bewildered and are asking where is God in all of this. Some Christians are suggesting that it is God's judgement on the countries that suffer natural disasters. Others are saying that a loving God would never do such a thing. When we are attempting to live for God and disaster strikes, we may be tempted to wonder if there is even a God who loves us.

In each of these countries, there is a sizeable Christian population. In NZ 50% or 2 million are said to be Christians, while in Japan the percentage is 1.5% out of a population of about 127 million which means that close to 2 million are Christians. Haiti, out of a population of nearly 10 million, is 95% Christian.

Although a large number of the Christians in these countries are nominal (in name only) there is still a sizeable number of God-fearing Christians who are suffering greatly.

I would encourage Christians who have suffered great loss to hang on to Jesus. He is our only hope at such times of great loss.

Those of us who are not personally affected by these tragedies need to show great compassion towards those who are suffering. We also need to realize how short and unsure life is. Our lives could be taken from us at any time.

Many Christians are wondering whether all the earthquakes, floods, diseases and economic turmoil around the world could be the beginning of the birth pangs Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:8 signaling His imminent return.

Whatever may be our beliefs on the Return of Christ, the important thing to realize is this: We live in very difficult and uncertain times. Because of this, nothing else is more important than making Jesus the centre of our lives.

Early this morning, before completing this newsletter, I spent time with the Lord, having a Quiet Time. Our reading today was from Psalm 61:1-8.

For special verse I wrote verses 2,3 and 4 which are these: "From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings."

Under what could God be saying to me, I wrote the following: Lord, I want to continually be led to You, the Rock that is higher than I. I pray that you might increase my longing for you. You are the One I love. I believe You are saying that You are going to increase my longing for you and the longing for You in each member of our family.

This is Kathy's and my greatest desire - that we and each of our children would have a longing to daily connect with the Lord - to be led daily to the "Rock" who is our only sure foundation for the storms of life which are sure to come to all of us.

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