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Christchurch earthquakes: a sombre story

The most recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand is the second within a matter of months. But there was a significant (non)event in between the two quakes which was not reported because it didn't happen.

The following is an account and chronicle of recent events in Christchurch, New Zealand. The article includes a message from Andrew Strom which he has entitled:

An Awful Shaking in ChristChurch

Christchurch earthquake3 September 2010:

The 2010 Canterbury earthquake (also known as the Christchurch earthquake or Darfield earthquake) was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which struck the South Island of New Zealand at 4:35 am on 4 September 2010 local time.

Most of the damage was in the area surrounding the epicentre, including the city of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest urban area with a population of 386,000. Minor damage was reported as far away as Dunedin and Nelson, both around 190–220 miles from the earthquake's epicentre.

Given the intensity of the earthquake, the cost in human death and injury was minimal. Two Christchurch residents were seriously injured, one by a falling chimney and a second by flying glass, and many suffered less serious injuries. One person died of a heart attack suffered during the quake, but doctors could not determine whether this was caused by the earthquake.

Later that same month:

A New Zealand believer thought to organise a combined act of thanksgiving by the local churches in Christchurch to praise God that there was no loss of life or significant injury. Andrew Strom has written:

As some of you know, one of the main things that I hoped to do in Christchurch ..... was to organize a large open worship event in the city - to praise and glorify God that nobody had been killed even in a huge 7.1 earthquake.

I found that no such event was being planned, but there were thousands of evangelical Christians in Christchurch, and I felt very strongly that it was important for us to publicly glorify God for the miracle of surviving such a disaster with no-one killed. The place was traumatized and it was obvious that a sensitive Worship event would do much good - and even many non-Christians would likely attend.

I have organized large events before, so the Christian Radio network knows me - and quickly agreed to promote the event for free. The PA sound people also agreed to supply excellent sound for a very low cost. And the Christchurch City Council couldn't have been more helpful. Everything was looking good.

But it was not to be.....

One of the main 'networking' Pentecostal leaders in the city told me that we could count him OUT of any support for the event. Then I spoke personally [to a very prominent church leader] who told me that we could NOT use the main Square in Christchurch for a worship event for the whole Body.

I called a number of prominent pastors and worship bands around Christchurch. I said we had the support of Radio, the Council, the sound and everything. No response. Worship bands not interested. Pastors not returning calls. (You might think they were busy after the quake - but remember no-one died and Christchurch was up and running pretty fully after only a couple of weeks).

I simply couldn't understand it. The evangelicals of Christchurch had made no public acknowledgement of God at all - no public worship for this miraculous escape - no public glorifying of Jesus. Even the secular News and the politicians were calling it a "miracle".

I felt strongly that I could not push things any further without some basic support from the church. We managed to hold a couple of outdoor concerts for the homeless, and got involved with distributing "care packages" and things, but I was so disappointed. In fact I was more than disappointed - I was alarmed and deeply disturbed. I even told some friends that it was "dangerous" to offer no public praise after God has just so obviously saved your city. I felt so strongly about it - and deeply saddened for the state of the Body of Christ.
But I could do nothing more.

17 December, 2010:

Andrew Strom and his family departed from Christchurch. 

28 December 2010:

The Strom family boarded a plane for Australia. Strom now writes: "I believe it may be some time before we ever return."

22 February 2011:

The 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a 6.3-magnitude earthquake which struck the Canterbury region in New Zealand's South Island at 12:51 p.m. on 22 February 2011 local time. Centred close to Heathcote Valley, 3 miles to the north of the town of Lyttelton, the quake caused widespread damage and multiple fatalities in nearby Christchurch, New Zealand's second-most populous city.

On the day of the quake, Prime Minister John Key stated the current death toll was 65, saying that 22 February "may well be New Zealand's darkest day".
Early the next day the Director of Civil Defence said that 38 deaths had been fully confirmed (meaning that the bodies were identified and the next of kin informed).
By the afternoon of the 23rd that number rose to 55 confirmed deaths and 20 unidentified. There are unconfirmed reports that the death toll could reach 200–400. Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker says at least 200 people are believed trapped under rubble, saying that New Zealanders are "going to be presented with statistics that are going to be bleak".

On the morning of the 23 February the situation was declared a national emergency by the Prime Minister.

Strom further writes of the church leader who told him that he that "the main Square in Christchurch could not be used for a worship event for the whole Body."

The church leader to whom Strom has spoken personally following the first quake  who has appeared in pictures on our TV screens standing outside his ruined building. He was and is the Dean of Christchurch cathedral.

Strom writes with sorrow: "Today this man's Cathedral lies in ruins. It had survived the first quake, but it did not survive this new one." He concludes:

"My heart truly goes out to the people of Christchurch - and to all the world so poorly served by the church of our day. This was truly one of the worst 'lost opportunities' that I have ever witnessed in all my years with the church.
And Christchurch was truly one of the most beautiful cites I have ever seen. The people are so dear to us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, my friends.

May God bless and protect you all in these dark times.

Christchurch Cathedral, a landmark of Christchurch has been a part of the city for nearly 150 years.
The 6.3 Magnitude earthquake that struck on 22 February 2011 has destroyed the building, toppling the spire. The cathedral's spire stood 63m above Cathedral Square.

At the time of the 2010 earthquake The Reverend Peter Beck, Dean of Christchurch said the cathedral escaped destruction telling the local media: "My thanks go to council for all that earthquake strengthening work. Without that we would have had major damage.''
Read on with 'before and after' pictures.....

Click on image above for BBC coverage

Andrew StromAndrew Strom is a native of New Zealand. After ministering in the USA for several years he returned to his native country in March 2008. Strom is founder of and the international REVIVAL list.

He was involved for 11 years in the same Prophetic movement as Todd Bentley until he left over what he saw as the unbiblical and bizarre phenomenon within that movement. His article originally entitled 'Why I left the prophetic movent' has since been published in book form with the title 'True and False Revival'.

Other articles by Andrew Strom:
Economic Judgement is imminent: 4 Predictions
A Strong Letter to the Apostles
Kundalini Spirits in the Church?

Andrew Strom / Christians Together, 23/02/2011

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Pawlo 23/02/2011 13:45
Hmmm indeed!
Penny Lee 23/02/2011 14:29
And the worst tragedy of all is that these same church leaders still won't recognise their part in it all. Looks like the NZ church is in the same sorry state as our own.
Martin Lisemore 23/02/2011 16:57
Yes, Andrea, I believe the Western church is all in a similar mess. I have a school friend who migrated to NZ many years ago, and became a Methodist Minister there. He came out of it of many years because of so many Godless practices. (We came into contact again through Friends Reunited)

I received this same letter this morning, and there could well be mileage in it. After all, we were quick enough to praise God in October when the Chilean miners were rescued, proclaiming a miracle (I was just one who did that) so by the very nature of our arguments then, we must apply the same Scriptural reasoning to this scenario.

In view of the Biblical witness as to how God moves and behaves in history, we shouldn't be surprised when He fulfills prophecy by doing it again.
Martin Lisemore 23/02/2011 19:06
I didn't make it clear, but I was not referring to the claim the church building was destroyed, merely to the shaking which is going on all over the world, and that we should step back and acknowledge our Father's place in all that.
RF (Guest) 23/02/2011 21:44
Christians should not proclaim their God's goodness when casualties are light or absent. Not ever when Aberfan is etched on the brain ever more. Also don't forget the great waves that drowned many thousands of innocent people a few years ago. You cannot pick and mix.

I wish and hope for the best for the people of Christchurch and no doubt good and dedicated people, some of them Christian and many not, will try to help those that are suffering to rebuilt their lives and in doing so show great compassion and skill.

Alan B (Guest) 23/02/2011 22:03
"Or these eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Matthew 13: 4,5.
RF (Guest) 24/02/2011 09:38
The waves Alan. What about those waves? Mega amounts of innocent humans slaughtered by an uncaring or off watch god?

Or not so powerful? Or totally absent? Or cruel? Or what?

Cue for highly creative thoughts born out of wishful ignorance? Can we turn metal into gold by supplying a lucid and logical explanation for massive amounts of innocent dead? Mystery do I hear. Do I hear mystery? Do I hear moving in mysterious ways? The action of the waves can be explained; they are no mystery.
Brian Ross (Guest) 24/02/2011 13:14
Roland has almost pre-empted my personal concern over any suggestion that there is a direct connection between the second earthquake and the failure of some of the Christian hierarchy in Christchurch to participate in a service of thanksgiving for the fact that no-one died as a result of the earlier one. To do so is, in my opinion, to suggest a vindictiveness in the character of Father God that is not something that I recognise.

The basic problem, I would suggest to Roland and others, goes back to the foundational book of Genesis. At the Fall (and, as a former Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Glasgow once stated: “Whatever we believe about Genesis, there must have been a ‘first sin’”), it was not only humankind that suffered by being cut off from the intimate relationship with the Creator that had been their previous privilege. The words of that Creator are clear: “And to the man He said, ‘Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you.’” (Gen 3:17; NLT).

Paul is referring to this when, writing to the disciples of Jesus in Rome, he assures them: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Rom 8:18-22; NLT).

The sinfulness of mankind has had, and continues to have, far-reaching effects. As far as I understand the situation, this will only cease at the end of physical time when the Lord Jesus will return (whether that be the Rapture, or the Second Advent is another topic!!). For now, we live in a fallen world, and our task, as disciples of Jesus, is to play our part in the gathering in of the harvest that will lead to that return. (I could now go on to the Doctrine of Election – but Roland will have to await the publication of the book I am currently writing, and which has a chapter on that very subject!!).

Shalom to one and all – and let us pray for those in Christchurch who are the bereaved and injured.
Brian Ross 24/02/2011 13:16
Sorry - my automatic log-in apparently failed. It's me!!!!!
Penny Lee 24/02/2011 13:48
Brian, I don't think anyone is suggesting that God did this because people didn't pray. That really would go against everyone that He is. However, we know that God does respond to heartfelt prayer and also to our thanks. The Biblical story of the ten lepers confirms that. Only one came back to say "thank you" and Jesus asked him where the other nine were and told him, "your faith has made you well" We already know that he had been healed of the leprosy so in what way was he now 'well"? He must have received something else in addition to the other nine.

None of us can possibly know if the proposed act of thanks would have changed the outcome of events. Assuming that the incident happened as has been reported, I just feel sad that the church leaders who had been asked to participate chose not to and, at the very least, I would be interested to know why they declined or ignored the request.

For those of us who believe the Bible, one thing is certain - wars and natural disasters have always been part of our world and will continue to increase and Luke chapter 21 gives quite detailed information about what forms it will take. As you say, Brian, our world is already damaged and the sort of tragedies we have seen in recent years confirm this. It is absolutely right that we give our financial and practical support to those caught up in such disasters but, in addition to that, prayer is such a valuable tool and we never seem to appreciate the difference it can make in any situation, no matter how desperate.
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