Yesterday at 2:28PM (1428 (0628 GMT) in the first of three days of national mourning a week after the earthquake struck south western Sichuan Province, there was a three-minute observance of silence. A nation of 1.3 billion people paused. I wish I could be there to experience some of this. Air-raid sirens and the horns of cars and buses sounded in memory of the dead. During these three days, flags are to fly at half-staff and public entertainment is canceled — it’s the first time China has declared a national mourning since Mao and Deng Xiaoping. Some people have commented at how remarkable it is that the government is honoring average citizens and not some great leader. This is a much softer and compassionate image of China isn’t it?
Together they also rallied great cries of rebuilding China, “Long live China.” Even, “Let’s Go Team China!” in light of the olympics. This was real national pride and unity if we’ve ever seen any. Regardless of what position or class they were in the streets of Chinese cities they cried out in unison. Some have started calling May 12 their 9-11. This of course has stirred up a bit of criticism from some but in regards to a national response to a tragic event regardless of the cause you can’t deny the emotional similarities.
We can witness regular Chinese mourning traditions such as the pervasive use of black and avoidance of red. Newspapers will be doing this on the front pages. I wonder if it’s happening here with the Chinese newspapers. No celebration or entertainment for at least a month I think. So radio stations and music programs will be suspended. This is a very interesting time for China especially for their media.
As a church in Philadelphia’s Chinatown we responded over the weekend as many other organizations had as well. Every corner in Chinatown had some group raising relief support and awareness for the earthquake. Our Cantonese congregation got right out there and did an amazing job after Sunday service and in the rain.
Here’s an article from Benjamin Chan (Area Director of East Asia and India International Ministries, ABCUSA),
“We love China. Please help our fellow people.” Chinese-American Christians spoke a loud voice in the Philadelphia Chinatown last Saturday and Sunday.The Elim Fellowship of the Christian Church and Center in Philadelphia conducted a two-days fund-raising campaign in Philadelphia Chinatown for the earthquake relief in China. They raised more than US$12,000. The money will be sent to the Amity Foundation via American Baptist International Ministries/ World Relief Office to support the relief effort.
Dr. Eugene Young, Chair of the Elim Fellowship who initiated the campaign, praised Elim members of how they mobilized their families and friends in the fund-raising “You are a role model for them.” Daisy Wong, an Elim member, reflected on the experience, “My whole family is involved, and there is no greater joy than serving God and helping the people who are in such a desperate situation.”
Alice Hau, another key player in the campaign was touched by the overwhelming support of the donors of different ethnical backgrounds, and said, “We are thankful that God uses us. The love in the donor’s heart shines across to the other side of the planet.” Another two members of the church who sent the first check shared their thought, “Sometimes we take everything for granted, especially our good health and all the blessing in our life while staying in our comfort zone but still complaining most of the time. Pray that we all treasure what we are given and give to help the needy with a heart of thanksgiving.”
Dr. Michelle Sun, another Elim member, shares a poem “Sky Howls” to tell the terrible situation of the earthquake affect areas, and yet shows the light when we extend help and love to the victims. (See the English of the poem below)
Rev. Leslie Leung, pastor of the Cantonese speaking congregation of the church supported the campaign, and encouraged the church members to continue the effort. “The need is great, and we welcome every dollar to bring hope to the earthquake victims.”
Relief updates are posted in
1. Amity Foundation homepage (Chinese and English versions): www.amityfoundation.org.
2. International Ministries East Asia and India homepage: www.eacinet.org.
3. Judy Sutterlin (American Baptist personnel in Nanjing) homepage: http://www.sutterlinmpt.org/.
4. International Ministries homepage: www.internationalministries.org.
Sky howls from the quake
Sichuan bleeds still
Scenic Sichuan bleeds still
Sichuan at shock bleeds still
Cuehe* has its waterway barred
Wenchuan* faces all collapsed homes
A town mourns with no next generation
School children with red scarves buried alive
Schools, villages, cities
All buried, fallen, sieged and dead
No more hate and strife
Look, dear ones breathed their last, still holding hands
Fingers interlocking tight at the loss of hope
Gripping tight, didn’t let go
Clutching tight, didn’t let go
Grayish black, ice-cold palms
Wouldn’t let go
Rubble mountain-high, in valleys and up the peaks
Yet a twilight of life’s there
Lost children in lonely tents wait for Mom and Dad
Amidst the chills the sun comes and cares
Devouring earth sends kindred love
Arms of strangers show up from afar, from all paths
Descend from the sky, come with winds, dart over
God of providence grabs you tight
From the arms of Death
Pulls you to Him