Taiwan Church News
April 18 – 24, 2016
Earthquake Is Not The End Of The World, But A New Beginning Of Another Hope
Due to an illegal overload, a Korean motor vessel Sewol carrying 476 passengers capsized en route from Incheon port to Jeju island on 16 April 2014. This tragic accident reached a heartbreaking death toll over 200 people, most of them were Danwon high school students and teachers. Just two years later, in the early morning on 16 April 2016, Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture was seriously hit by a powerful earthquake in Richter scale of 7.3, generating a series of disastrous catastrophes: big scale land slides, bridges broken, house destroyed, railroad and public transportation disabled, millennial temple collapsed, dozens of people dead, over 2,000 people injured and about 100,000 people evacuated. In addition, there were some people buried alive or missing under the wreckage.
In the same day of Komamoto’s trembling quake, a strong earthquake in Richter scale of 7.8 also devastatingly hit Ecuador in South America. The quake killed at least 661 people, injured more than 27,732 people and brought down innumerable houses. In order to warn the Pacific-rim countries about a more deadly impact of tsunami, Ecuador and Columbia also issued a joint-statement to highlight the possible danger from the ocean.
Seeing these natural disasters and man-made misdemeanor, our hearts were really sad! If it was not an immediate rescue operation, it was unthinkable for many buried Japanese people, exclaiming “This is the end of world!” at the moment of the strong earthquake arrived, to see their families again.
When two Pacific-rim countries, Japan and Ecuador, were devastatingly rocked in a very short period of time by a series of strong earthquakes, costing precious lives and generating tremendous casualties and panics, it’s inevitable that we people living in Taiwan will start to worry an unpredictable but deadly quake is just waiting for us around the corner. Such kind of worry about the catastrophic event in the future should not be translated into a hopeless fear about the end of world, but a kind of hope of a brand new beginning.
Prof Jürgen Moltmann, the distinguished German theologian famous for his theology of hope, which was inspired and illuminated by his miserable lives living in the concentration camp of war captives after WWII, eloquently proposed his eschatology in his masterly tome <The Coming of God>: we should not interpret eschatology as a theology of the end of creation, or as the end of everything, as this is a negative mindset and also a pessimistic faith. The point of Christian eschatology is a discourse of renewal and recreation. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the creation goes toward a new milestone and refreshes in the darkness.
Basically, what Prof Moltmann emphasizes in his eschatology is just like what Jesus said in scripture: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”(John 16:33).
From the last teachings of Jesus in his last week at Jerusalem and the persevering faith of Job in his incredible difficult and challenging life, we as Christians should understand the ultimate hope within sufferings lies on our Lord God. We have the responsibility to care and pray for the victims in recent earthquakes, enabling them to start their lives again in the darkness. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let our brothers and sisters in cries and sorrows march toward a new milestone. Earthquake is not the end of the world, but a new beginning of another hope!