Standing together — in both distress and joy

People gather on the ruins of a house to serve as rescuers. Women and men from a small congregation come together as believers to express their gratitude. And young people gather together to orient themselves by the example of Jesus as self-aware Christians. Three images that move us.

Distress after serious earthquake in Albania

Albania had not experienced such a serious quake for decades: the earth shook at around 4:00 o’clock on Tuesday morning in the small country north of Greece in the Mediterranean region. With a reading of 6.4 on the Richter scale, the event caused serious damage, especially in the port city of Durres. Houses collapsed, dozens of people were killed, and many hundreds of people were injured. Even two days after the quake, countless people were still trapped inside the rubble. In the meantime, thousands of rescue workers have been deployed from surrounding countries. The aid efforts are being coordinated by the European Union, which has activated its civil protection mechanism, and has now deployed search and rescue teams.

Beyond that, the first relief organisations are already at work on the ground, most notably, "Help - Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe e.V.", the partner of NAK-karitativ, which is the relief organisation of the New Apostolic Churches of Germany. A team is busy distributing blankets and sleeping bags to people “who will now have to spend their nights in the open, even as the temperatures begin to fall. As a further measure, foodstuffs and medicines are being distributed to the earthquake victims. Traumatised people are also in need of psycho-social support“, says NAK-karitativ on its website, as it continues to ask for donations.

The quakes have also caused concern in the neighbouring countries of Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Southern Italy, and Greece. Over 500 aftershocks have been recorded in the meantime, among them a serious quake on Wednesday afternoon that registered 5.3 on the Richter scale.

Gratitude for new divine service quarters

In Belgorod, a city in Southwestern Russia, the divine service quarters of the small congregation there have been renovated and festively rededicated. On this occasion, Bishop O. Lang celebrated a divine service with the members of the congregation, while Priest Y. Badibang and District Elder A. Chernyak read aloud from Holy Scripture and served along.

The congregation, which is home to sisters and brothers from many nations, is happy to resume it regular gatherings in these familiar surroundings. And they made a point of cultivating their fellowship after the dedication service with lengthy discussions over a tea party.

Anticipation ahead of confirmation

In the coming year, many thousands of confirmands will make a vow of faithfulness to God. In South Africa, the confirmands have already begun gathering for preparatory services. They came together in many church districts, but the largest such assembly took place in the Tafelsig church. Thousands of participants accepted District Apostle John L. Kriel’s invitation to gather for a divine service in the largest New Apostolic church building in the world.

In all of these services, it was the young Christians who did the Bible reading. They read out passages from the twelfth chapter of the gospel of John: “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”

The message of these special divine services, said District Apostle Kriel in summary, “is to live and move in Jesus. Jesus knows each one of us by name, regardless of our different backgrounds and our weaknesses. He calls upon us to live and move in Him, and to serve Him with our gifts and talents.”