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In Japan, relief caravans, training under way
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
April 19, 2011
5 MIN READ TIME

In Japan, relief caravans, training under way

In Japan, relief caravans, training under way
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
April 19, 2011

ISHINOMAKI, Japan — Japan’s Baptist leader has expressed

heartfelt gratitude for the assistance Baptists worldwide have provided in the

aftermath of his country’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami — and has made

specific requests for continued prayer.

Southern Baptists working in the disaster response say they are pleased that

weekly caravans can now make their way into the disaster zone and that training

efforts are helping Japanese Baptists mount effective relief initiatives.

“Please accept my deepest gratitude for your kind expressions of comfort,

encouragement, prayer support, and love offerings, following the earthquake

that has wrought devastation to Japan,” Makoto Kato, executive secretary of the

Japan Baptist Convention, said in an April 1 letter. “The warm response from

Christian brothers and sisters around the world has sustained our broken

hearts. Japan Baptist churches appreciate the marvelous support system of

Baptists around the world united in prayer for Japan.”

The increased availability of gasoline has made it possible for “the most

critical necessities for human existence, such as water, food, clothing,

gasoline, and kerosene,” to be delivered into the disaster zone, Kato said. The

Japan Baptist Convention has placed temporary crisis management staff in the

area to support the work of local churches in helping ease the emotional trauma

disaster survivors are experiencing.

Baptist Global Response (BGR), an international relief and development

organization, and its partners are moving to establish bases of operation in

the primary impact areas of Sendai and Ishinomaki, said Jeff Palmer, BGR’s

executive director.

“We have partners committed to establishing and staffing bases of operations in

Ishinomaki and Sendai, and plan to build housing in Sendai for Japanese Baptist

volunteers coming out from Tokyo,” Palmer said. “The operation now has the

capacity of feeding hot meals to up to 3,000 people at a time, and our

stateside disaster relief specialists have trained Japanese Baptists in areas

of disaster response administration, grief counseling and logistics.”

The increased availability of gasoline has made it possible for “the most critical necessities for human existence, such as water, food, clothing, gasoline, and kerosene,” to be delivered into the disaster zone, said Makoto Kato, executive secretary of the Japan Baptist Convention.

Palmer said he has been deeply moved by the generosity of Southern Baptists in

responding to the Japan crisis.

“We are now somewhere over $500,000 in donations through IMB (International

Mission Board) and BGR and have appropriated almost $200,000,” Palmer said. “Funds

are still coming in at a fairly steady pace, thanks to churches that have not

forgotten Japan’s suffering people, and to partners like LifeWay Christian

Resources, which has designated the ‘change buckets’ in their stores nationwide

for Japan relief. Southern Baptists continue to demonstrate they are people who

care about people in need.”

The disaster response in Japan is about connecting with people in need and

caring about them as individuals, said Pam Wolf, who with her husband Ben helps

lead BGR work in the Asia Rim.

Wolf joined a team headed into Ishinomaki on April 5 that helped a woman named

Sato who wanted to return to the city in search of family members. Sato wound

up helping with a distribution of relief supplies on the parking lot of a

convenience store. While they were handing out supplies, Sato recognized one

woman as an old friend, who also was searching for her family. The two women

were deeply moved to find each other.

Sometimes just listening to someone’s story is even more important than what

you give them, Wolf reflected. She told about a boy they met in Ishinomaki who

had been swept away with his dog by the tsunami. The boy struggled to cling to

his dog in the raging water and finally was able to catch hold of a ladder —

but found himself forced to let go of the dog so he could climb out.

“He told us his story with tears in his eyes,” Wolf said. “You might think

there are far worse tragedies than losing a dog that happened during the

disaster, but for this boy, his loss is as traumatic as anyone else’s. Because

Southern Baptists cared enough to send us in to do disaster response, we were

able to be the love of God for this boy.”

Kato asked believers around the world to pray for the thousands of disaster

survivors who need to experience the love of God for themselves: “Pray for the

people struggling to survive under difficult conditions. Pray for the refugees

living in relief centers, the sick, the grieving. Pray for the people who have

been evacuated from the radioactive danger, and the many more that live in fear

of contamination. Pray for the Lord Jesus to fill them with His comfort and

strength.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is assistant editor and senior writer for Baptist

Press. The International Mission Board has established a relief fund for the

Japan disaster. Donations may be sent to Office of Finance, International

Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23230. In the memo line write “Japan

Response Fund.” Or you can give online by going to imb.org and clicking on

the “Japan response” button. For further information, call the IMB toll-free at

1-800-999-3113. Baptist Global Response is on the Internet at gobgr.org.)

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