Japan Tsunami (1)


March 12, 2011

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! ... Be silent and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. (Psalm 46:1-3, 10  NLT)

A massive earthquake of 9.0 magnitude hit northern Japan on Friday, March 11. This was the largest quake in Japanese history and the fifth largest in the world since records have been kept. The monster quake was followed by a devastating series of tsunamis that have left tens of thousands dead. (Miyagi Prefecture police have announced a death toll above 10,000 in their prefecture alone.) A nuclear power plant just north of Tokyo has malfunctioned with an explosion.

The news is heartbreaking and seemingly getting worse by the hour. Ann and I are in the USA on a one year home assignment, but our hearts are in Japan. We just travelled by JR East Pass throughout the Tohoku region of Japan (northern Japan) a few weeks ago on a short ministry setup trip to Japan. It is hard to imagine what the countryside there looks like now.

I sense that it is no longer business as usual in Japan. Modern Japanese history might from here on out be measured in terms of before/after the 3/11/11 earthquake. There was a 9/11 in the USA. Now there is a 3/11 in Japan.

It is conceivable that the timetable for launching our next church planting project (Tokyo Multicultural Church) might be affected by this current crisis in Japan. We may need to postpone. Or we may need to return to Japan temporarily in some kind of relief work capacity.

We are thankful that all EFC of Japan pastors, and all EFC of America and EFC of Canada missionaries in Japan are accounted for and safe. There were hours (and in one case almost 36 hours) before contact was established. Electrical power and basic services made communication impossible. In many places that communication is still not possible.

I have been so busy with crisis management and relief logistics set up since 1:30 AM (ET) Friday March 11, that I have not yet had time to update my own websites (including this blog) or to send out email notes to our supporters.

As president of JEMA (Japan Evangelical Missionary Association), there are many on the ground decisions in Japan that I have needed to weigh in on from over here in the USA.  JEMA is the voice of most evangelical missionaries in Japan. We have excellent people in Japan doing JEMA work, but they still need to hear from me before they implement JEMA decisions. I think the initial pile of responsibilities is easing, and the logistics that can be offered by JEMA are now better in place to help channel some of God's grace to a devastated country.

We in JEMA have set up donation routing for the quake on the top page of our website. Donations from overseas (outside Japan) can be given there via PayPal. All donations given in that manner will go to CRASH, our JEMA endorsed relief network in Japan.

I think CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope) is the best relief network in Japan to link with because they work closely in the needy areas with local churches, and because they mobilize missionaries and churches in Japan to volunteer for relief work. Most CRASH leaders speak both Japanese and English. All are volunteers with extensive background in Japan. It is this kind of local touch that large relief organizations do not have. CRASH also works closely with the JEA relief commission. Japan Evangelical Association is the voice of most evangelical churches in Japan.

Churches or individuals wishing to help with emergency relief work may also donate through the EFC of Canada Mission using a special project just set up. These donations will be used in an EFCCM relief ministry in cooperation with CRASH.

May God's people generously display his grace to Japan in the face of this unprecedented disaster!

japanquake.ca (dale little)