On May 12, 2018, a memorial service for the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake was held in Mianzhu Gospel Church in Sichuan Province, sponsored by the Sichuan CCC&TSPM and the Mianzhu TSPM.
About 400 Christians from Chengdu and Miaozhu attended it. The participants left their signatures on the memorial wall.
Rev. Gu Yumei, the church's senior pastor, recalled that many volunteers across China came to Mianzhu to help the victims. Some even lived with their families in the city for five or eight years, going through thick and thin with the affected people.
The church made a pamphlet about the earthquake relief work on the first anniversary of the magnitude 8.0 quake that caused more than 70,000 deaths and another 18,000 missing on May 12, 2008. It showed the disaster situation of the church in Mianzhu, the scenes of the congregation who kept attending services after the disaster, Christian oral testimonies, the support the church received from people of all walks of life, and post-disaster reconstruction.
Rev. Gu added that the congregation joined in services in heavy rain, winds, or under the scorching sun after the disaster. In 2011, a new church was built. She hoped that they remember the Lord's deliverance and providence.
Just over 30 kilometers straight away from the epicenter, Mianzhu was one of the worst-hit county-level cities where 11,117 people were killed, another 38,000 injured, and 256 missing. Three local Christians died and 847 houses that belonged to believers collapsed.
With its cross and memorial gateway toppled down, the church became dilapidated. The residential building for the pastoral staff and offices also fell down. The church suffered a direct economic loss of 3.5 million yuan. Afterward, it made temporary tents, distributed relief goods, contacted afflicted believers to know the suffering conditions of their families and casualties.
On May 14, 2008, the CCC&TSPM launched a prayer meeting to call for the donations and raised a fund of more than 150 million yuan and numerous goods.
In the past decade, the church in Mianzhu has also provided psychological counseling, caring and visitation, financial education assistance, and assistance to the elderly and the disabled.
Rev. Gu said that the affected people who suffered from psychological traumas didn't dare to disclose their weakness, filled with fear and anxiety. "The believers who live in Hanwang County saw the opposite houses falling down and acquaintances losing their life like that."
The pastor said that it was hard for them to bear the suffering.
The trained church volunteers gradually helped the victims walk out of apathy and fear through visitations.
Ms. Ma was one of the volunteers. When the quake struck Sichuan, she who was in Deyang then hurried back to Mianzhu. Seeing collapsed houses and injured people all the way, she felt happy at the moment when she found her relatives. The next day, she took part in the relief work.
In the recent years, she has been involved in the caring and visitation ministry. It's reassuring for her to see handicapped people gain peace and joy after being cared about by the church. "Love can't be exchanged by the material."She added.
Some church members said that it was difficult to forget the traumas caused ten years ago. However, apart from pain, there was love as well.
- Translated by Karen Luo