If you have seen any of the video coming out of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami this past Friday you cannot help but be moved at the incredible devastation that has been wreaked on the northeastern part of their country.
I know I’ve spent a bunch of time this weekend online watching videos and looking at photos of it all and I still can’t get my mind around how unimaginably horrific it must be to have entire cities washed away.
Of course it so happens that I have a good friend who lives in Japan as a missionary. And by good friend I mean that Kent was best man at my wedding. He has a site here on EmmanuelPress, the Muhlings in Japan, which I’ve been
pestering encouraging him to use more.
Obviously he’s going to have his hands full in the next few months so I don’t expect him to be adding much to his website for a while yet.
Kent and his family were at the annual conference/retreat for their missionary organization in the mountains about 200 miles from the earthquake when it hit. The week before Kent attended an all day training on how to be prepared to respond and assist in the event of an earthquake.
Talk about Divine preparation.
Anyway I wanted to share with you in full the email Kent sent over the weekend to those of us who support their effort. I believe it speaks for itself.
Dear praying friends and family,
First, thank you for the over 80 replies to my last email!
I just finished reading them all, and I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to hear your love and concern in your words. Thank you. I am sorry that I won’t be able to answer them all individually (which I am normally committed to doing).
We continue to be amazed at the information coming in about what has happened. It is simply huge. Japan’s government takes great pains to plan for natural disasters, but this is on a magnitude that simply cannot be managed. It is chaotic — one only has to look at the news photos to see that.
CNN reported that the landmass of Japan appears to have shifted over about 8 feet. An agency in Italy reported that the earth actually shifted 4 inches on its axis. That is one whopper of an earthquake.
Last night there was a second earthquake, much closer to us, and big enough to wake us up. We have heard that because of the main earthquake on 3/11, the entire landmass of Japan is unstable and there will likely continue to be earthquakes until the shifting plates in the earth’s crust have re-stabilized. Japanese TV is reporting every earthquake or aftershock as soon as it is detected. There have been numerous smaller quakes or aftershocks, some merely minutes apart.
— Ooh, there was another one.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s email, our entire mission is gathered here in the mountains near Nagano (north of Tokyo) for our annual conference. Together we have a strong conviction that since we are here in Japan, we must respond in a direct, tangible way. Already we are in contact with an organization called C.R.A.S.H., which stands for Christian Relief Assistance, Support, and Hope. Their role is to coordinate Christian relief efforts in-country, and we have decided to take an active role. The church in Japan is small, but the love of Christ is big! We hope and pray the Christian community in Japan and worldwide will be able to demonstrate Christ’s love to the Japanese in a very visible, tangible way.
So, at this point, here is where we stand in terms of our own response:
1) Missionary personnel will return home at the end of our conference on Monday, as planned, assuming roads are reopened and train service has resumed.
Then, as soon as we get home, those of us who are planning to join the relief effort will begin planning and preparing. (First thing to buy is a good pair of work gloves and boots!)
2) We are waiting for C.R.A.S.H. to do their on-site evaluation, so we can understand the need better and know when and how we can get involved.
Some of the things that have to be figured out are: How will we get there? (The Sendai airport is currently under water, trains aren’t running, and some roads are damaged.) What areas are accessible and which aren’t? Where will we stay? Will we need to go fully self-sufficient, or will food and lodging be available? How can we best contribute to the effort — physical labor? Crisis counseling? Translation services for other agency personnel? Serving the local churches in their relief efforts? What other Christian organizations are sending teams and how can we coordinate our efforts for minimum confusion and maximum impact?
Then, as soon as we are able to, we’ll put a team together and go. That could be within a few weeks, but I really don’t know for sure.
3) We also plan to contact churches in our home town area of Sanda and invite them to participate in volunteer relief efforts, as we are planning to do. This is a potential opportunity to unite the churches in our community, and we are very interested in pursuing that.
4) Our mission, Asian Access, is setting up the “Japan Tsunami Relief Fund.” Our mission has relationships with several churches in the areas hardest hit, and we will send donated funds to those churches so they can contribute to relief efforts in their communities in the name of Christ, take care of their own members who have been affected, etc.
Also, some of the funds will be made available for our own folks who want to go and help in the relief efforts. At this point I and several others are planning to go, so those funds will help pay for our expenses (buying supplies, traveling to the site, etc.)
So again, the relief funds will be used to support relief efforts through our partner churches in the disaster areas, and also by our own personnel participating in the relief effort personally (hopefully including myself).
If you’d like to contribute to this effort, you can send checks payable to Asian Access and mark them “Japan Tsunami Relief Fund.” Mail checks to Asian Access, P.O. BO 200, San Dimas, CA 91773.
I hope you will prayerfully consider doing this.
Finally, please pray:
- That God will have mercy on the victims of this disaster.
- That God will give wisdom to leaders in the Christian community and in government.
- For the love of Christ to be clearly displayed by the words and deeds of God’s people.
- That many Japanese hearts would be softened, and that the assistance given in Christ’s name would lead to many opportunities to share the gospel of Christ’s salvation.
- For clear guidance as to what our part should be!
- Oh, one last prayer request for my family: Our children were shaken up by the earthquake, and when I told Caleb I would probably be joining the relief effort, he said to me, “But what if something happens to you when you’re there, Daddy? I don’t want you to die!” And then he started to cry. Please pray that God would comfort them with His love, and bless them with faith to trust in Him in all things, including our very lives.
Thank you, thank you, for your love and concern, your encouragement, and your prayers.
Love in Christ,
If you are looking for a way to donate to the Japan tsunami relief effort I encourage you to consider donating through Asian Access, the organization Kent mentioned. And here is more information about their Japan Tsunami Relief Fund.