Rice Praises Christian Groups in China Quake Response

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the self-sacrifice and relief efforts of Christian charitable organizations in China Sunday while surveying disaster struck areas throughout Sichuan province as part of a greater goodwill tour with Chinese officials.

In early May, China's southwestern Sichuan province was devastated by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake that left millions homeless and claimed over 70,000 lives.

Rice said that Christian organizations in China – among the first to rush to the country's aid after the country faced its worst earthquake and natural disaster in three decades – were shining examples and living testimonies of the importance of faith-based charitable groups during times of global crisis.

"I am delighted and just moved to be here with Samaritan's Purse, providing clean water for the residents," said Rice, in a statement, as she surveyed a water purification system established by just one of the many Christian groups active in the area. The water filtration unit was one of 12 airlifted by Samaritan's Purse to the quake zone.

Samaritan's Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization, led by evangelist Franklin Graham,that has aided the world's poor and devastated for over 35 years.

Rice said that it was commendable that through just one organization alone, 3,000 families were provided with temporary housing and 16,000 blankets were handed out to the needy through Graham's charitable organization.

"I can see that the Chinese government and officials have been attentive."But with a disaster of this magnitude, no one can do it alone," she said, according to The Associated Press as she highlighted the importance of faith-based groups.

Rice also commended the openness of China in accepting outside, international aid which has helped provide millions of disaster victims with support and hope in rebuilding their lives.

In comparison, millions in Burma remain stranded in hopelessness because of the reluctance of the country's military junta to allow Christian and other international aid groups to enter following the cyclone that ripped across the country two months ago, she said.

The Sichuan earthquake was China's deadliest since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that leveled the city of Tangshan in 1976.