World View

A view to those out in the world into our life.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles. Part 1

(The following is part 1 in a series of Matt McClure's first hand account from his trip to Pakistan for relief efforts from the earthquake)

You are walking down a busy street, headed to the market. It is 9:00 am on a normal sunny average day in your home town, when you hear and feel a low rumbling vibration, like a distant train. Suddenly the earth lunges violently under your feet, throwing you upward. You hit and roll hard. You are still rolling. No wait, it’s not you that’s moving, but everything around you that is in a violent upheaval. The low rumble is now a deafening roar. You cannot tell whether you actually hear or feel the roar that fills your head. Any thought of trying to stand is quickly dissipates as the ground jolts and lunges with a life of its own. The two story row of shops on the right side of the street collapses into a cloud of jagged concrete and rebar wire. You grunt and roll to the left as a chunk of concrete the size of basketball crashes into your ribs. Although it has seemed like a lifetime, it has only been 20 seconds since the world turned upside down with the violent shaking that would register a 7.8 on the rector scale. The earthquake will continue for an astounding 7 minutes; time without end in your own personal hell. You finally force yourself to up to your feet. With each timid step you take, you await the ground to retaliate with its fierce anger and power. But all is still. You cough and struggle to see through the dust and smoke. You have to get your bearings so you can get home to check on your family. There are new sounds filling the clouds of dust; the sounds of wailing and desperate pleas for help. You finally reach home, clinging to the hope that everyone will be alright. Those hopes sink as you see the rubble that was once your home. You call for your wife and your two year old daughter. There is no answer. You begin to franticly dig through the rubble. Each jagged piece of concrete you fling aside adds a new gash to hands, but there is no time to worry about the bleeding. You glace to the right and see your oldest son running in from the field. He begins to help you dig. After two hours of digging, you know that all hope is lost. You send your son to check on the other two children who were in school in the city, as you wrap your hands in a torn shirt. By dark, you have managed to recover and burry the bodies of your wife and child from the remains of your home. Your oldest son has returned with the news that the school collapsed burying most of the children under tons of concrete and steel. One of your children has reportedly survived and was taken to a hospital hours away with many broken bones and internal injuries. The fate of the other child is unknown. It will be over a week before his body will be removed from the ruins of the school. You lay down in the grass next to what was once your home. There have been three aftershocks since the initial earthquake. And as you lay your head on the cold ground and close your eye to contemplate how your will get to the hospital tomorrow to check on your other surviving child, the fourth aftershock angrily shakes the ground, reminding you of Allah’s fierce anger. Only Allah could have done this. Only “The One God” has this much power. He is angry at his servants. The people have sinned. His anger burns against you. You have sinned. Your sin is why he has taken your wife. This is why he has taken half your children. This is why he has taken your home, your possessions, and your food. You have nothing. You have nothing left at all. Allah should have crushed you too. It would have been more merciful. Winter is fast approaching and the snow will come soon. What will you do? Perhaps then Allah will kill you and the remainder of your family. There is much suffering ahead. You are afraid. You must do better. You must sin less. You must pray more fervently. Perhaps then Allah’s anger will subside and he will spare his servant. Perhaps not. Perhaps Allah’s judgment has already been made against you. You roll over and pull your coat tight around you to combat the bitter bite of the cold night air. It will be a long winter. You miss your wife. You feel too weary to cry, yet the tears come. You drift off to sleep wondering how you will get to the distant hospital to find news on your daughter. You do not yet know that the last aftershock caused landslides that will block the mountain pass to the hospital for the next several days.

As I sat down to type a letter to those who had supported me through finance and prayer on my trip to do disaster relief in Pakistan, I wondered how I would ever convey a true picture of the destruction of the earthquake along with the brokenness and hopelessness of the people. A story seemed the only logical way. This was not a specific story of a single person that I recant exactly, but a general one heard a hundred times over with slight variations in numbers of family members dead and where the person was when the earthquake started. I use it so that you may understand the situation that is unfolding in Pakistan, but even more so, that you may empathize with the tragedy and loss suffered by the people. Many people lost less loved ones, many people lost more. Everyone lost their homes and possessions. Everyone is broken. Their lives are broken, their hearts are broken, and their spirit is broken. Never before has there been such a tragedy in this area of the world. But our God is so great and He is in complete control. Thus, I believe that never before has there been such blessing and opportunity in this area of the world than now. I hope that by the end of this letter that you will echo this belief.


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