The crumbled steeple of the Christchurch Cathedral, once a proud monument that towered above the city, lies in ruins – a symbol of the devastation we have seen over the past week. Growing up in New Zealand, I remember standing high above the city in the steeple lookout, as so many others have since its construction. It has been a place of worship, a place of refuge and a symbol of the strength of the New Zealand people for over 150 years.
On Tuesday, 22 February, a powerful earthquake struck the picturesque town of Christchurch, and the tower of beautiful stone that we once knew, now lies among the wreckage. New Zealand is my country of birth and our hearts ache as we watch the aftermath of this recent tragedy unfold on the news. Today, the death toll has reached 145 people and hundreds are still missing. More than 600 rescue workers have worked around the clock for six days – hoping and praying that they might still get a miracle and pull survivors from the wreckage.
I have no explanation and often it is so hard to find words to describe these kind of circumstances and to ease the pain that so many are left to face for weeks, months and in the years to come.
What I do know, is that we serve a God of hope. His heart is one that is full of mercy and grace, compassion and love for his people. He feels your hurt and He cares deeply for those that are in pain, broken, confused and wrestling with loss.
I loved waking up to the headline this Sunday morning: ‘Church services are going ahead today in Christchurch’. What a statement! The Church, God’s solution for the earth, His home, His reach, His body, His people, rose from the ashes and declared the HOPE of Jesus over the city of Christchurch and the nation of New Zealand. The Christchurch Cathedral WILL rebuild and we will see God lifted high in that city.
Psalm 62.5 declares, ‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.’
Throughout history, New Zealanders and Aussies have always stood shoulder to shoulder. Whether during wars in times past, in natural disasters or moments of great trial; the comradeship of the ANZACS and the great spirit of this resilient community has come to the forefront. In 2011 this remains true…
On behalf of Bobbie and I and everyone at Hillsong Church we commit our continued prayers to Christchurch. Lord, put your hand of protection on the rescue workers and on those still yet to be rescued. Give wisdom, grace and strength to the government officials and church leaders working to bring solution to the people of New Zealand. And may Your presence bring comfort, peace and unexplainable hope to all who are suffering.
To all of our friends who pastor in Christchurch and countless others who carry the Gospel message with love and grace…be assured of our continued prayers.
Love and Prayers,