NICHOLASVILLE -- Xiaodong Gu was on the 18th floor of a 23-story office building in central China when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the area on May 12.
Ying Yang (L) handed filtered water bottles to George Zhang at the Lexington Chinese Christian Church. They took the bottles apart to activate the ViruStat filters with clean water before sending them to earthquake victims in China.
Eighty seconds later, Gu's life was reduced to desperation.
"I saw if this building collapsed, I'd be done," he said Saturday, speaking through an interpreter.
He climbed down and out of the damaged building, and survived weeks of chaos by thinking of his wife and son back in Lexington, where he arrived on Tuesday.
Gu told the audience at the Fund-Raising Concert for China Earthquake Relief that their donations were gifts of hope for the victims of the earthquake.
Nearly 70,000 were killed in the quake, 18,000 are missing, hundreds of thousands were injured and more than 5 million were made homeless.
"The government tried its best, but there were so many injured coming non-stop," Gu said.
Money raised during the concert and prayer vigil at the Lexington Chinese Christian Church would be used to buy water filters, which are in great demand in the devastated areas, said Chungming Lin, pastor of the church.
"We pray for them, and we believe God hears our prayers," Lin said, but the concert was a way of putting prayers into action.
Other groups, including the Kentucky Chinese American Association and the University of Kentucky Chinese Students and Scholars Association, are also raising money to assist quake victims.
The groups have made two shipments of relief supplies --tents, sleeping bags, blankets and other items, plus cash donations -- to China, including a shipment that was packaged and sent earlier Saturday.
The Chinese community in Lexington is estimated at about 3,000, including major concentrations at the University of Kentucky and at Lexmark International, said Changzheng Wang, deacon of the Lexington Chinese Christian Church.
The congregation totals about 150 families, Wang said. Some are recent arrivals who have relatives in the hardest-hit areas of China.
The two-hour concert and prayer vigil included Chinese songs and hymns sung in the devastated areas of China and some European classical music as well.
Jennifer Ku played a piano intermezzo by Johannes Brahms that she described as "a lyrical piece full of emotion and sincerity" that reminds listeners that "our life is so fragile because we don't know what will happen next week or next month."
She urged her audience to cherish each other and the time they have together.
"May the spirit that dwells in this piece dwell in your heart," Ku said.