Saturday dawns over Christchurch, and I am sitting typing with my family asleep around me in the lounge where we have slept each night since the big Earthquake on Tuesday.
Our beautiful city of Christchurch NZ, has been really devastated by the 6.3 Magnitude quake, which has caused significant loss of life, and massive damage everywhere.
We have a two storey house and it feels much safer in our lounge downstairs, and it is nice all being together. All through the night there were shakes, and with each one I wonder "will this one be big?"
We are fortunate that our house has not had too much damage, just a lot of fallen and broken things inside. We got our power back late Thursday night, but still have no phones, water and consequently toilets... but hey ..we are alive and we have each other.
We live on the East side which has been really badly hit, and driving around our suburb is like taking an off-road 4WD track through water, mud and holes. It takes ages to get anywhere! The first time I ventured out, I found it quite distressing and unsafe and really wanted to rush back to the safety of my home and family.. but kept going... and wondered all the time if I would be able to get back again.
We have had extra people staying, and the night after the quake we had 17 people staying for the night. This was a challenge for doing basic things.... getting food, boiling water.. and especially the toilets!!
Since Tuesday, I think most of us have been coping on adrenaline, and everything has felt incredibly surreal. Because we didn't have TV we didn't start watching all the images until yesterday, and we found it so distressing we had to turn in off.
Hearing the horrific stories of people dying and getting injured feels so hard to bear, and unbelievable that it is all in our own city that we love. Seeing the devastation of peoples houses and lives... and the destruction of our beautiful familiar landmarks seems quite overwhelming.
Yet in amongst all that, there is something very beautiful rising up. We are hearing amazing stories of incredibly courageous rescues, and acts of sacrifice. All over the city, people who usually are oblivious to each other, are sharing resources and manpower.
Driving round the city you see teams of ordinary people helping others, signs on fences offering various help, people warning others of potholes and dangers, and everyone going and checking on neighbours. I have never before experienced such a community spirit (outside church!).
Many people are sharing their homes with others, one home is sharing their generator with all the neighbours, many strangers are making combined neighbourhood meals and BBQs, sharing what food and resources they have.
One or two have asked me "where do you think God is in all this?"
I think God can be visibly seen pouring His love out through all the acts of sacrifice, kindness and courage being shown around the city.
And this is the time for Christians to put our faith into action. We have the great advantage of being able to contact and organise an army of helpers to serve the city in its time of need. I have been in contact with so many Pastors who are all keen for our churches to work together to achieve the most effective results.
I have been so proud of our Grace teams who have started a fantastic Welfare Centre in New Brighton, which has become a significant source of food, water and support in the area. Also other teams have been doing clean ups, repairs, shifting households and praying and loving people all over the city.
People we meet are not only desperate for food, water and practical help, but also want to talk, be hugged and just have people around them for company.
I hope as the City asks the questions ... where is God? ... they may experience his love flowing through all the Christian Army serving our city.