There are many indications that – along with marae, countless community organisations, and the general public – many Christian people and churches have been very active in responding to the recent weather disasters with gifts, money, meals, places to stay, and other practical help. Some of this reaches the media, but most of it doesn’t.
Here’s an initiative among Baptists and here’s a brief video clip expressing local appreciation of the work being done by a large group of Destiny Church men with clean-up in Hawkes Bay. Churches such as House of Breakthrough Church (in Gisborne) and Rānui Baptist Church (West Auckland) have provided emergency accommodation. Many churches have sent gifts of food and equipment. In Auckland, City Impact Church bagged six tons of sand and gave it away and provided meals for 10,000 people, and have since sent three truck and trailer units loaded with supplies to Hastings and Gisborne, and hired a helicopter to help with distribution.
Pray As One NZ invited Lance Rickard, associate pastor at House of Breakthrough Gisborne, to share about the flood relief and clean-up in Tairawhiti. Acting as a disaster hub for the area, they are working with other churches to provide food and help where needed.
From Frances Tagaloa:
I just quickly wanted to let you know that our church (Church Northwest) has done several things to help with the flood response. They have:
- Organised a church member to saw down a felled tree.
- Offered Countdown & Mitre10 vouchers to flood victims.
- Offered prayer and emotional support.
- Sent out information about Vision West who is helping flood victims work out a plan for their situation.
- Arranged for Vision West to talk to us about their programme.
- Connected us with Vision West for pastoral care.
From Sasha McPherson, Laidlaw College:
Over the last few days Laidlaw Seaspray House has been opened up to welcome Piha locals for a cuppa & a chat, with crafts for the kids & some yummy treats. A huge thank you to the Titirangi Baptist crew who came out on Sunday with a yummy BBQ and fun activities. Another huge thank you to Jill Shaw for being on the ground over the past week & bringing people together. We also had a Laidlaw BCouns grad & some Counselling faculty available for conversation for anyone who wanted a chat. The Piha community are doing an amazing job supporting each other but it’s going to be a while before things feel normal again. Please keep them in your prayers.
From Jill Shaw, Religious Diversity Centre chaplain:
I, as a chaplain for staff at Laidlaw College, was thrilled to have use of the Laidlaw bach at Piha to use as a drop-in centre for the mental wellbeing of locals who needed a quiet place to stop in and have a chat. Laidlaw sent counsellors as well.
With the help of Andy Shudall’s team at Titirangi Baptist Church (TBC), we hosted a Family Fun Day with over 40 adults participating and too many children to count. TBC’s 24/7 youth worker, youth staff and volunteers created a safe and fun space for stressed families.
This week over 20 people enjoyed the Over 50’s Afternoon Tea, again with a Laidlaw College grad in support.
The above was facilitated by relationships within the community with Restoke Foundation. Working locally at the grassroots level is not always super-efficient but is usually more effective than top-down outsider initiatives.
Shore Community Church donated a pile of gift cards and vouchers from places like Kmart, Briscoes and supermarkets for distribution to anyone in Auckland who lost household goods or have hefty excesses to pay. The church also had volunteers serving in the evac centre at Massey University.
Auckland Church Network and Convoy of Hope:
Our country is reeling. Churches, homes, businesses and more have been ravaged. Our hearts ache, and we are praying with you.
We have been humbled to hear of Auckland churches wanting to help those worst affected outside our city. To that end, Auckland Church Network is partnering with disaster response org Convoy of Hope who are responding through local Hawke’s Bay churches, empowering them to embody the compassion of Jesus. Amidst all the good being done, we’ve identified a part we can play: the hard mahi of helping people back into their homes.
Can your church help the churches who are helping?
In conversation with the churches on the ground, Convoy of Hope has a confirmed list of urgently-needed items. Can you and your church drop off needed items at the collection points? They are also taking donations so that needed items can be purchased.
We also need your help getting the word out so people can donate goods or finances!