China’s 2008 Earthquake

It was 48 hours before we learned in Inner Mongolia of the extent of the damage due to the earthquake down south. Isolated as we are here in the small town of Daban many people never get the news – the newspaper is actually all advertising circulars – but we now know China is in pain. The government has claimed to be everything – provider, comforter, manager, healer, in fact, “god” but now none of the above.

Thousands of parents will bury a child, if they can find the body at all, and in most cases an Only Child. The 3 Gorges Dam displaced millions of people during its construction and drowned thousands of homes in its path. Now it and other dams in Central China are showing signs of stress. If the 3 Gorges Dam fails, 10 million will be wiped out in a single swoosh.

Food prices have risen 20% and pork has doubled because farmers do not want to waste the grain on the pigs. Taxes, but not wages, have increased in order to fund the glitzy Olympics and all the attendant waste and public show plus billions into the Navy. People notice when their taxes go up and they change behavior. People are angry at each other, and at me too. The country is on edge.

And there have been other aftershocks as well. This week the police demanded that I leave town within 12 hours! I thought it was a scam organized by public and private schools angry over our success. We have run out of teachers and classrooms as we added several classes and many new students. But no – they were serious – no one can pack for overseas in that period of time. After some negotiations a $1,500 fine will be paid to the brigands (i.e. bribe) and I can stay.

The 2nd local aftershock was that the police went to the perfectly legal registered church and confiscated the perfectly legal Bibles – 240 of them – and took them away. We don’t know where they are. Apparently the church members felt they were safe and had not hidden them in their homes. Again, an illegal act because the Constitution of China allows freedom of religion.

This is the time to pray for China. God wants to comfort the Chinese people – His word and presence are allowed only in theory. He has promised to destroy all idols.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman that the lives of 2 people “do not amount to a hill of beans.” Missionaries know they do not amount to a hill of bans either – what counts is the gospel and prayer reaches everywhere on the globe. As God would have it I was not forced to leave.

God promises to destroy all idols, (Exodus 30:13) and that includes governments and political leaders who claim to be god. In actual practice, God need do nothing. Over-promising by arrogant leaders will eventually expose their folly. Then men can seek the real God with greater wisdom and humility.

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