Washington (BWA)--Baptist World Aid (BWAid), the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has granted an initial sum of US$10,000 for earthquake relief in New Zealand.
BWAid sent the funds in response to the devastating 6.3 magnitude quake that struck on February 22 in the city of Christchurch in the Canterbury region on New Zealand's South Island. The temblor caused widespread damage and multiple fatalities with at least 113 confirmed deaths and 228 persons missing.
On September 4, 2010, a 7.1 earthquake occurred near Christchurch causing significant destruction of property, including damage to several Baptist churches. The February 22 earthquake is regarded as an aftershock of this earlier occurrence.
Peter Mihaere, general director of the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society said that the earthquake was "felt in every New Zealand home. We are stunned as a nation as we experience one of our darkest moments as a country." He reported that "all of our pastors and their families are safe but some of their congregations and their families are still missing. We pray their rescue is soon." He indicated that "a number of church buildings have suffered much damage and we know of one historic building and all buildings near it (that) are completely destroyed."
Rodney Macann, national leader of the Baptist Union of New Zealand (BUZ), said that the nation "is reeling in the wake of a disaster which by world standards is not huge but nevertheless devastating for the people of the Canterbury region." Macann stated that the disaster "poses questions for the city and the future ministry of our churches."
Kelvin Fairhall, national administrator of the BUZ, conveyed gratitude to the BWA and all Baptists for their support and help. "Thank you very much for this expression of support; we certainly appreciate this coming from the worldwide family of Baptists."
Mihaere said that "your continued prayers and support are called for as we begin the long and slow process of keeping the hope of God before our people and the wider community of Christchurch."
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam expressed sorrow and solidarity of support to New Zealand Baptists and all those affected by the disaster. "We in the BWA are saddened by the loss of life and property and those who are listed as missing. The BWA calls on all Baptists throughout the world to enter into prayer for the country of New Zealand and to offer assistance where needed."