There were two stark responses we could have taken after the quakes:
how do we keep it together? or conversely, how do we use this to help the community?
Beautiful things often come out of tragedy, and the friendship between Lincoln Rout and Faafetai Vaoga is a testament to this.
Having never spoken before the earthquakes, Lincoln was prompted to contact churches in the East to see whether his own church Rutland St Brethren, could offer support to communities struggling in the early days after the February 2011 earthquake.
‘I rang Faafetai – I’d never spoken to him before… I rang him and said is everything ok. He replied that everything was fine… the whole church had moved to his place!’ With eight families now living at Faafetai’s home and the power off now for several days, Lincoln drove across town with ice-filled chilly bins and meat to feed the expanding family environment in Aranui.
As the weeks became months, Lincoln and Faafetai developed a deep mutual respect for each other, working together to organise an event in May 2011 at Wainoni Park. With over 1,000 in attendance, the combined churches managed to distribute more than 40 cubic metres of clothing, while music and food added to the festive family atmosphere.
By September 2011 Lincoln and Faafetai had started combined services at Rutland St, and to this day they continue their mostly bilingual combined service on the first Sunday of each month. The December quake of 2011 tragically wrote off EAUKS’ building, but they found themselves surrounded by a caring community at Rutland St.
“We learn from each other” maintains Lincoln. “Our church is now more comfortable being extroverted in worship. As iron sharpens iron we’re receiving from each other and it’s a beautiful thing”.