Monday (4th February) Townsville Queensland, Australia woke to the devastation that had occurred. 100’s of homes and businesses flooded. 1000’s of people had been evacuated by police, SES (State Emergency Services) and the army. Townsville was in crisis and declared a catastrophic situation. On Friday the 8th February the rain stopped. Many areas of Townsville had over 1,500mls of rain (60 inches). It was time for the Church to shine and God to reveal himself. Amazing stories of care and love flooded the airways, the radio, TV, Facebook and the paper. People caring for people; random acts of kindness; heroic stories; incredible generosity; and at that stage, not a life lost.
The Church leaders responded (John 17 unity) and began to strategise how to meet the needs. Each Church took on a role for which they were they were uniquely equipped.
- Rev Bruce Cornish (Townsville City Central Mission) was appointed Liaison person on the relevant committee of the local disaster management board;
- Willow’s Presbyterian ran a children’s programme because schools were closed and kids were going ‘stir crazy’;
- North reach Baptist established a Facebook page and mobilized there young adults in the clean-up. They also took on a role in coordinating accommodation for those who had nowhere to live;
- Salvation Army provided food at the evacuation centres;
- Calvary Church provided hot meals for people with no power and no homes;
- Aitkenvale Uniting ran an information night;
- Northreach Baptist started collecting donations of clothing etc;
- Samaritan’s Purse came into the city and provided training and set up teams with local Church folk to help in the clean-up;
- YWAM with the Combined Churches, Council, SES and other Christian organisations established ‘Team Townsville’, whatever it takes. This was a programme to visit every affected house in every affected suburb and ask “How are you going?” And then to direct appropriate resources as required.
- The intercessors prayed.
What a great opportunity the Church of Townsville has had to love the people of this city. It truly has been a chance for the Church to shine and the character of God to be revealed.
Let us give thanks to God that the Church, the community, and businesses have really stepped up to be good neighbours and also pray that the church will continue to respond in this way, as disasters and persecution increases in these “last days” before Christ returns.