A bleak Christmas in South Island

Christmas would not be a joyous occasion for Canterbury and West Coast residents and many other New Zealanders this year.

The Christchurch Earthquake, the Pike River Mine Tragedy, the Fox Glacier plane crash, Southland snow falls and the Te Aroha Silver Fern Meat Processing Plant fire would preclude many of us from marking the birth of Jesus Christ.

At least 160 Te Aroha full-time workers are now out of job and income, after the fire raged through the whole factory (on December 3). Millions of dollars have been lost and those affected many not be able to even dream of buying a gift for their families and friends.

It would be no Christmas for Phillipa, the grieving mother of the youngest Miner, Joseph Ray Dunbar (17), Gemma, the loving partner of former Christchurch St Bede’s College student Michael Monk, Anna, the widow of Grey District Councillor Miner Milton Osborne and many others grieving over the Pike River Mine tragedy.

For thousands of homeless people in Canterbury, it would just be prayers (and not merriment) at the Christchurch City Mission, Salvation Army, Presbyterian and other Christmas Dinners this year.

Joy doubles and Grief halves when they are shared. That simple message would go a long way if all New Zealanders decide to send their special Christmas Gifts and Cards to our less fortunate brothers and sisters in the affected areas.

That is the best way we can celebrate the birth of the King, who was born more than 2000 years ago for the grieving, the down ridden, the left-outs and the lonely. He lived for the less fortunate, the lost, the desperate and the defeated human beings, dreaming of the Promised Land of Ultimate Salvation.

Jesus said, “When you feed the hunger, you feed me; when you dress the naked, you dress me; when you shelter the homeless, you shelter me.”

Let this Christmas be special for us in New Zealand and become the real season to showcase our solidarity as a Nation, banded together during the most trying time of helplessness and despair.

May this become a good opportunity to share our love and compassion that would be truly worthy of our Lord Jesus.

Dr George Abraham is our Correspondent based in Christchurch.

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