Pastor's Desk - Where Were You When The Earthquake Struck?

Nov 05, 2023

I was at my desk at home, on Monday morning, October 30, 2023, hosting a class online and discussing conflict as a useful leadership tool for church growth. Three minutes before the class would have ended at 11:00, I heard a loud rumbling sound and experienced a massive shaking of the house. I immediately realized that we were having an earthquake. Popping the earphones from my ears, I dashed to where I considered a safer spot, simultaneously calling to my wife who was upstairs and crouched with my hand over my head...waiting. I heard the voice of the helper outside and other voices from one of the neighbouring houses crying out to God for mercy at the top of their voices. This persisted for a few minutes. 

When the shaking stopped, my wife and I prayed, consoled each other, still shaken from the experience and in darkness as the electricity was interrupted. We then began interacting with our neighbours.

Caribbean people are not strangers to natural disasters as we have had a few hurricanes, heavy flooding, droughts, and volcanic eruptions. For us here in Jamaica, this earthquake would have been the most frightening in recent history. So, after the checking for cracks in buildings, furniture that may have overturned, appliances which sustained some damage, what next?

It is necessary to do some self-examination

We were frightened and fearful. What made us afraid was the fact that we had no control over what was happening around us, and we were completely at the mercy of this natural phenomenon. At times when we feel we have lost control, we lean on others, we lean on something, or we lean on God. The Psalmist declares, “...when I’m afraid, I will trust in you (God)” (Psa.56:3). How many of us really trust in God when we feel we are losing or have lost control? Many persons panicked during the earthquake and did some foolish things. The informal studies showed that children were more controlled than adults, as they stooped under their desks and followed the drills they were taught, while adults ran to the wrong places. There is a settled peace in our lives when we truly trust the Lord, so that, whatever the circumstances, or the situation, we can rest in Him, because He is in control, not us.

Pause and examine your reactions, your choices, and your behaviour when you have lost control and feel afraid. A quake may just be one cause.

It is necessary to examine our level of preparedness

How prepared were you for this earthquake? How could you have been better prepared? This question provides no easy answers. But, truly, after you have made all the necessary external preparations for any disaster (and we hear these daily, whether for hurricane or earthquake), we must prepare ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The New Testament is littered with examples, illustrations and stories about preparedness for the return of the Lord. The scriptures refers to the coming of the Lord as ‘like a thief in the night’. ( 1Thess. 5:2)

He also told the story of the wise and foolish virgins and of those who were placed on the left and right of the master based on their service to others. So, there we see preparation for the Lord’s unpredictable, but, inevitable return comes in different forms. Two elements seem to stand out in these stories, and they are:

  • Making sure we are at peace with God. A right relationship with God is critical for eternal peace. Being right with God is knowing Him intimately, not just knowing about Him. It is to have your life “hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3). It is the responsibility of every disciple to make sure we are right with God. This shouldn’t be taken lightly as much of who we are and what we do depends on the quality of this relationship.
  • The second thing to note is ensuring we are right with our neighbours. I wonder how many persons used the occasion of the earthquake to make peace with their neighbours. When you called others to ask, “Did you feel it”?, did you also call those with whom you have not spoken for years, (whether in your families, at school, at church) to ask forgiveness or to offer forgiveness? Did you use the occasion for real, honest emotional connection or just to blow off steam? If the outcome of this phenomenon was otherwise, would your family know that you loved them? Would your church family, students, or colleagues know that you cared? Let others know today that you appreciate them.

In these matters, we must always be vigilant as Jesus highlights the great commandment, essential for entering the kingdom of God, as loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves. How are you doing now? Are there any signs of post traumatic stress? Do you feel anxious, frightened, or afraid? Why not give me a call so we can talk further, or, speak with someone who can assist - but don’t keep your feelings to yourself. If you don’t know the Lord, let me invite you to seek him today by asking Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your life and make you a new person.


We thank God that damage was minimal from the visit of this October 30, 2023, earthquake. However, we must not forget the lessons of being at peace with God and peace with our neighbours.