New Zealand cyclone: a message from LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield
Kia ora and hello again, dear sisters and brothers
Grace and peace to you in Jesus.
Members of our LCANZ have just been together as General Synod in Melbourne, and I invite all people in our Lutheran family on both sides of the Tasman to come ‘together’ now in our love and prayers.
Two weeks after a massive rain and flooding event caused devastation in northern Aotearoa–New Zealand, Cyclone Gabrielle has this week hit the same areas of our North Island, leaving a trail of destruction through the regions of Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, the east coast, Hawkes Bay and Manawatū.
We again ask for your prayers for all in these regions, including our Lutheran sisters and brothers from congregations in Auckland (Mountainside Lutheran Church and Botany Lutheran Church), Bay of Plenty (Kawerau Lutheran Church and a group of Lutherans in Tauranga), Hawkes Bay (Redeemer Lutheran Church in Clive) and Manawatū (Trinity in Feilding and St Lukes in Palmerston North).
At least three people are believed to have died as a result of the cyclone and a National State of Emergency has been declared. The devastation is extensive, with some towns and communities being completely cut-off and major damage to infrastructure, including roads, rail, water supplies and sewerage, electricity, cellular phone networks and internet connections, while flooding has been widespread and there have been landslips in some areas.
I have reached out to Lutherans in the affected regions by text message and email. It’s wonderful to be able to report that, so far, there are no indications of loss of life, injury or damage to property for any within the Lutheran whānau (family), and I can hear our LCANZ Bishop Paul saying, ‘Praise the Lord!’. Both Mountainside Lutheran Church and Botany Lutheran Church in Auckland cancelled gathered worship last Sunday and offered online worship.
Please pray with us for the people of Aotearoa–New Zealand who again are suffering.
We give thanks, dear God, that:
- It seems many Lutherans are safe and well, and that despite the effects of the cyclone, provision was made for people to ‘gather’ for worship, even online, last Sunday.
- Like Australians, we in New Zealand live in a nation that has the resources to respond through many agencies.
- New Zealand’s government and local authorities are working well together to care for people who are affected.
- The cyclone is moving away to the south-east.
- You care for those who are in pain.
We ask you Lord for:
- peace and comfort for the families, communities and work colleagues of those who have died.
- the restoration of communications, phone and internet to areas that have lost communication.
- protection from further storms.
Loving God, we come to you trusting in your mercy and knowing that your steadfast love endures forever. Look with mercy on those who are harmed or displaced by flood waters. Give them your strength to meet the days ahead, your peace which passes all understanding and new hope in the resurrection. Move in those who are able to give aid, that we may be your hands and heart on earth. Be with all who offer assistance. May your Spirit uphold them. As you have made water a sign of your kingdom and of cleansing and rebirth and wind a sign of the presence of your Holy Spirit who brings us close to Jesus, grant your people vision to see new life on the other side of disaster. To you be given all honour and praise, through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord.*
E te Ariki, whakarongo mai ki tā mātou īnoi. Kia tae atu ā mātou tangi ki a koe.
Lord, hear our prayer and let our cry come to you.
With love in Christ,
Pastor Mark Whitfield
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Aotearoa–New Zealand
(*adapted from a prayer from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Worship Resources for Natural Disasters)
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