After the quiet of shock and loss, and the babbling of stories being told, the sounds of hammering and of grinding metal have become the new music of our neighbourhood. Rebuilding is well underway.
The huge fire of January 21st showed us some beautiful aspects of life here. The neighbours pulled together to help and support each other, there were hugs and kind words, old differences put behind as the great leveller of human suffering forged bonds of care.
And now the attempt to return to life as normal. Where there was a pile of charred remains, a new house springs up, completed within a week.
But the grasping for life brings back some of the uglier aspects of life here too. Suspicion, self interest, the jostling for position and status. Those who ‘have’ asserting themselves over those who ‘have-not’.
There are shifting uncertainties about what help people may or may not receive from the government.. will we all be kicked off this patch of land?
There are changing allegiances, old friends and neighbours left out of any help because they were only renting. The landlords buildings better houses to get higher rent, the poorest being pushed out of the community.
There is the deep pit of insecurity that drives the grasping for material things.. What does my future hold? Will I be able to continue a life here?
We have felt these same things with our neighbours, although our house was only damaged and not destroyed. Will our landlord want the house back? Will the government clear us all off the land? Will there be a next fire?
As every day we watch builders sink concrete piles into the unstable boggy clay of an already sinking city we identify with the desire for rootedness, for stability, for a place in this world.
Our heart response is not the desire to run from this insecure location, but to dig deeper roots in the neighbourhood. This is slow work building relationships with our neighbours. Witnessing to Christ’s love takes a long time and a lot of shared experiences. We need to go with our neighbours through the ups and downs.
So we will seek to stay. The fears and insecurities are part of what we share with those around us.
But we also do not fear completely as our neighbours fear. And not just because of our white skin, British passport and access to outside resources. We know the fears run deeper than the expression in grasping after the material needs.
The Deeper needs are of knowing we are loved, that we belong and that we have value.
In a world of comparison, self-seeking and injustice we know the One who holds us firmly and, with unchanging gaze, looks upon us as His beloved.
We have no guarantee of personal security or comfort. May we sink our foundations deeply into this Rock and hold out firm hope to those around us.
The psalmist says “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3
- Pray for peace and justice in our neighbourhood. Pray particularly for the poorest, who get the worst deal.
- Pray for Elise’s role with the fair wage jewellery project, RoyRak. Things have been particularly busy for the last few months as they are trying to get online sales up and running, alongside the usual routine and relationships
- We have UNOH International meetings in Auckland at the beginning of April – please pray for renewal of purpose and for there to be great encouragement in being together with the teams from Australia and New Zealand.
- As a family we will then stay on for a week of holiday in the mild weather! Pray we be refreshed and ready to get back to our work here when we get back.