VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 3/24/11)—$20,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) funds is starting to be distributed among the churches and schools damaged by the tsunami and earthquakes, according to the Japan Baptist Union (JBU), an American Baptist International Ministries (IM) partner in Japan. Eight churches will receive $2,500 each of the OGHS relief funds sent on March 14. There is damage to Shokkei School buildings as well and, as funds are available, help will be given to them. The gifts will be delivered personally to the churches by a JBU team within the next few days, reported Stan Murray, IM’s area director for Southeast Asia and Japan.
The JBU has established an English language website to keep the world up to date on news and information regarding earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. US churches are invited to the site at any time by going to: https://sites.google.com/site/crisistohoku2011. The site is frequently updated in Japanese, and IM missionaries Gordon and Lee Ann Hwang, Roberta Stephens, and Tomoko and John Armagost in Japan and others are working long hours to translate the content into English as quickly as possible.
In a letter posted on the JBU website, Makoto Tanno, general secretary of the JBU, expresses gratitude for worldwide Christian response, “We have heard from so many people about your prayers for the people of Japan. We are overwhelmed with the feeling that we are not alone. We are still reeling from the shock of the events of the last few days but continue day and night to respond as best we can.”
Volunteer groups are pouring into Japan from all over the world and are trying to set up operations. However, the difficulty is that they also need housing, food and water and the supplies are severely limited. The churches are asking that volunteers wait until the situation is more stabilized. The government and the Red Cross of Japan are fully mobilized and working as hard and fast as they can, according to Murray.
IM missionaries in Japan, Roberta Stephens, John and Tomoko Armagost, Gordon and Lee Ann Hwang and David and Leslie Turley do not reside or work within the 50-mile radius of the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. According to U.S. officials, the 50 mile radius around the plant is considered a “need to evacuate” zone. However, as of today, March 23, the risk factor to those living in the Tokyo/Yokohama area has increased. The IM crisis team and IM missionaries are keeping a 24-hour watch on the situation. While the team is not taking steps to evacuate missionaries to locations outside of Japan, discussions are ongoing regarding the possible need for temporary relocation inside Japan.
In a report from JBU missionary Rev. Eiji Osato, “the number of dead is now 9,487 with 15,617 still missing. The number has been getting bigger and bigger day by day. There are 256,871 people staying in evacuate camps today.”
He goes on to report that city water in Tokyo is not reported safe for infants. People are buying bottled drinking water resulting in water shortages near where earthquake and tsunami hit. Baptist churches in the disaster area in the north now are now receiving support from churches in the western part of Japan. The churches are sharing food and other necessities with people living around them.
Emergency donations are needed and can be made on the IM website http://www.internationalministries.org/items/221, or write a check payable to “One Great Hour of Sharing – Japan Relief” and give to your church, or mail to:
P.O. Box 851
Valley Forge, PA 19482
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the General Board. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work, and development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
To read additional journals, prayer requests, news updates and find out how to give to Japan relief, click here.
American Baptist International Ministries, organized in 1814, is the first Baptist Mission organization formed in North America. We serve more than 1,800 short-term missionaries annually, bringing U.S. and Puerto Rico churches together with partners in more than 70 countries to tell the good news of Jesus Christ while meeting human needs.
American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.