Monday, February 9, 2015

Lending Hands and Loving Deeply in Christchurch

       The last week and a half have been busy, but full of God's goodness.  After leaving our brief time in Wanaka, we packed our van to the brim and set out for Christchurch. Our team had made arrangements to stay with a family from a church called South City C3.  This family had an open flat on the back of their house and welcomed us in for our first week in Christchurch.  The flat had one bathroom, one bedroom, and a kitchen/ lounge area. Our team of 7 made ourselves comfortable in the small space.  The men during the night slept on mattresses in the kitchen while the women got the bedroom.  It was a little crammed, but it was more comfortable than camping.
Old Anglican Cathedral still damaged from the earthquake.
Temporary Building for Anglican Cathedral
made mostly from cardboard
and recycled wood
         For our first day, our band of ragamuffins went into town and began to pray over the city.  In 2011, Christchurch suffered from a large earthquake that destroyed much of the city.  Even now, as we walked around, many of the building are either in disrepair, or being rebuilt. One of the saddest sights was the broken down old Anglican Cathedral in the center of the city.  Half of the back wall was gone and the rest of the walls were lined with cracks.  As the years have traveled by, Christchurch has worked to bring life back to the city.  We walked around, praying over every space, asking God to come and fill this city. We felt God's heart to bring this place back to His glory, again.
           Since coming to Christchurch our team has been working along side South City C3 Church helping them build up their programs.  We have assisted in their local youth group (called Primal Youth), set up church on Sundays, and helped in a small way with the renovation of what will be a community center/kids ministry building, among other tasks. We also supported another local outreach to underprivileged youth in one of Christchurch's poorer communities, a place called The Palace. Along with all this we have been assisting a local food bank called 0800 Hungry that helps get food out to people with low income. Finally, we participated in and served at a continuous 24 hour prayer and worship time led by several different churches around Christchurch!

Pulling nails out of lumber so it can be reused in the renovation of a building which will eventually become a community outreach center for South City C3 Church.
DEEP: 24 hours of going deep with Lord through prayer, worship and creative expression. An event initiated and implemented by collaboration of Christians all over Christchurch! We were there for almost 6 hours of it!
We have shared God's Love with many in the city and helping people rebuild. Here are a few stories from our time here:

Beth beating the Primal Youth at Marshmallow pick up
       What an amazing week it has been! From the moment we got to Christchurch I knew our time was going to be well spent. For me one of the greatest highlights of our first week was on Thursday when we got to join in on a youth group meeting called Primal Youth. I have never seen a group this... lets go with eccentric! But I've also never seen a group of kids this on fire for God, it truly was a blessing to get to be a part of. With the group going there the youth pastor, Luke, asked if we could have two of us share a short testimony with them, and I had the privilege of speaking to them along with Julie. There was one kid in particular that I really got to talk to and pray for. After sharing some words of encouragement that I got for him during worship, after we talked for a bit I just knew that he wanted so badly to run a place like this. His heart for kids was so big and he himself only being 17 made it a little difficult for that dream to come true just yet, but I know God will do amazing things with him one day.                                                              

A picture of the Palace at the beginning of the
Summer/Christmas season.
     We've been all around Christchurch helping organizations and people out. I think my favorite part of our time in Christchurch so far has been helping out the girls at the Palace. This is a little program run by one dedicated woman with a huge heart, named Mel Hillier. She has developed some amazing programs for young girls so they could have a place to be safe and not have to worry about problems at home.  At the Palace (the name of the building), the girls would be pampered, dress up, and learn of their place as princesses in the Kingdom of God. We had the privilege of helping this woman out just by cleaning the entire Palace. She was so happy when she saw what we had done. While cleaning the Palace I found that I enjoyed working for her. It is amazing to see how God has worked on me personally. I never thought I would be cleaning someone's place willingly and with a smile on my face. Its so awesome to see such amazing people and the desires God has given them!  I've seeing how much of an impact it has on the young girls, that they have a safe place to enjoy one another's presence while learning about God.                                  


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