Rainfall across China this year has been 21 percent higher than average, and 27 percent higher along the Yangtze River basin, which holds much of China’s farming and industrial heartland, according to the national meteorological office. Experts have said the rains have been driven by a strong El Niño, when unusually warm water sits in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator, shifting weather patterns across much of Asia and other regions around the Pacific.
The Gospel Times recently reported on how the flooding has impacted Christians in communities in Hubei Province. This is a translated excerpt of that article.
Four Churches in Hubei Ravaged by Torrential Rain
This summer Hubei, in Central China, has seen a string of disasters, including torrential rains, damaging winds, hail, landslides, and urban flooding.
On July 12, China Christian Daily contacted Rev. Zhang Wenhua, the executive editor of Sweet Dew, a magazine of Zhongnan Theological Seminary for an update on the situation.
According to Rev. Zhang, the disaster has badly damaged the churches—especially the four main county churches—, believers' families, and the provincial seminary. In addition, many other buildings and crops have been destroyed. Fortunately, no deaths have been recorded in the region.
Rev. Zhang joined other provincial staff from the provincial CCC & TSPM on a visit to some of the ruined county churches on July 8.
”The damage was extraordinary,” she said in a telephone interview. "The torrential rain resulted in severe damage to the rural churches. The roofs, walls, and surrounding areas were completely ruined. Jiayu county suffered the most."
In her report on the conditions in the county she said that one church was completely flooded. When they visited the location the water had not yet subsided and the toilet drains had overflowed.
Using a Chinese idiom (“flooding Jishan temple”) to describe the situation, she said, “I couldn’t get in; I had to walk across a wooden plank.”
Another local church—Trinity Church—suffered so much damage to the walls and roof that the structural integrity has been compromised; it is no longer suitable for use.
Gospel Church in Luxi was also flooded, and might collapse if there is another strong rainstorm. Four wood branches taken from nearby trees are being used to support the church. Currently, the believers are gathering in a temporary shed in the yard nearby. However, she worries whether or not the seniors could get out if it collapsed in another downpour.
A church in Dawu has also been washed away by a landslide triggered by the flood that was caused by the recent downpour.
"The current problem is to displace the water. These rural churches are made up of elderly who have no money. Prayer and help are needed," she says.
Meanwhile, the believers' families have suffered great losses because of the tragedy. She said that there are farmlands on both sides of the road in Jiayu county, an eco-agricultural base; however, they have been submerged by water. The crops are rotting in the fields and the melons and fruit are floating on the water.
The staff visited the family of a sister who had a pond of 500 mu. She told them that she has lost more than one million yuan in earnings for their family. Rev. Zhang says that the couple, in their fifties, must support their parents and a child who studies in a school through the pond's earnings.
Many believers have relocated to join their relatives and children on higher ground while the reconstruction and recovery efforts are being done.
In addition, she says that the disaster also damaged Zhong Nan Theological Seminary, whose buildings were destroyed when the walls collapsed on two cars parked nearby. The owners of the car asked for 100,000 yuan in compensation. In total, the seminary has suffered losses worth 500,000 yuan. The national CCC & TSPM issued a news article calling for prayer for the churches and believers affected by this disaster.
For further information, here is a short video from The New York Times showing the extent of the disaster in central China.
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