August 11, 2009
On August 7th, 2009, Typhoon Morakot slammed into Taiwan with strong wind and heavy rain, causing severe damage to the property and human life in the southern part of Taiwan. Many people lost their houses and loved ones in an instant. There were mud slides in the mountain areas. In an aboriginal village, Namasha, for instance, people were buried in the mud; roads were cut off because of the flood. For several days, many people did not know whereabouts of their loved ones. Many saw their house washed away and their loved ones devoured by flood water.
Upon learning the severity of the situation, Taiwan SCM (TSCM) immediately organized local students to help the rescue missions of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT). On August 11th, students from Taipei and Tai-chung areas went to Ping-tung County, one of the most affected areas. They were divided into small groups to help people cleaning the mud in their homes, removing broken furniture and dead animals.
One student reported, “Most of the area was still immersed in flood water. There was no clean water, no electricity for four days. Dead fish and rotten watermelons floating on water under the blazing sun, the odor was unbearable.” Yet, being driven by God’s love and believing that “one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), students did their best to help.
Not only did they help with their labor, they also extended God’s love and hope to the victims. A group of students went to one of the PCT rescuing stations, Tai-ma-li, in Tai-tung County. Hoping to cheer them up and sharing God’s love with them, they gathered all the children nearby, telling them Bible stories, singing and playing games with them. A member reflected on her blog: “We play a game called ‘Wishing pool’. Each person is to make a wish, writes it down and put it in a box. Being through such a big disaster, everyone wished their house be restored, that they could live a normal life. But one of them wrote ‘Peace.’ I was impressed by it. Caught in such a devastating and seemingly helpless situation, wishing for peace is to seek inner serenity, isn’t it?”
Some students from our Kao-hsiung Aboriginal Student Center went to a Buddhist temple in Cishan in Kao-hsiung County, where many victims resided. They sang hymns, prayed and shared God’s Word with them, encouraging them to place their hope on the loving God.
It was hard labor to help cleaning houses. Each student reflected on the disaster and their experiences in the affected areas. They all realize that we human beings have exploited the nature for too long. Now the nature has fought back. One thing we need to remember is that we are not the owners of this planet; we are simply stewards of it. We need to learn to cherish God’s creation.