Japan Earthquake and Tsunami News

JEMS Japan Support Update

As of April 25, 2011: Through your great generosity, we have received $128,295.75 in online donations (Razoo) and checks sent to JEMS. One-hundred percent of the funds are wired to CRASH every two weeks. Both Razoo and Union Bank (wiring) have waved their usual fees associated with this type of transaction. JEMS has also waived their administrative fee.

Background:

JEMS has been sending short and long term Christian missionaries to Japan since 1953. You may know JEMS here in the United States through ministries like Mount Hermon or Asian American Christian Fellowship on campuses across the united states. We are reaching out to the JEMS community and beyond to let you know that we want help our fellow brothers and sisters in Japan. We also want to show God’s love tangibly, as we send donations to a ministry that is on the ground being the hands and feet of Christ in this calamity.

Recently we joined JEMA (the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association). JEMA is a networking association of over 40 foreign missionary organizations in Japan. JEMA has forged many partnerships through their 42 years of being in that country. We trust their leadership and ministry, and as such, JEMS has decided to support a JEMA endorsed member organization called CRASH.

CRASH stands for Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope. CRASH equips and prepares churches and missions in Japan, so that they may be able to help their communities when a disaster strikes. They also coordinate Christian volunteers to work with local ministries in the event of a disaster. They provide leadership and coordination for volunteers responding to typhoons, landslides, blizzards and earthquakes in Japan and internationally in cooperation with the JEMA and the JEA (Japan Evangelical Association).

They have already set up a command post in Tokyo preparing to address the needs of the churches that are becoming more evident as the hours go by.

Donations received by JEMS for the earthquake relief will go to CRASH Tohoku relief in Japan. JEMS will not receive any administrative fees from the donations. Razoo has generously agreed to donate any credit card processing fee as well so 100% of the money donated will go to Japan Disaster Relief!

MISSIONARY UPDATES

Here is an excerpt from one of our missionaries in Japan. She is located about 1 hour south of Sendai (by Shinkansen or bullet train).



March 15, 2011

Anne in Omochanomachi,Tochigi

We have been advised by the Japanese government not to panic, and to avoid buying up supplies so that there can be provision for those in the north. People are doing their best to preserve electricity so that our comrades who are without can be provided for. Here in Tochigi Prefecture, grocery stores are bare, and gasoline is just about unavailable except for government vehicles and relief workers.

Sometimes, when there isn't an aftershock for several hours, it is possible to push from our minds the very real, life-threatening danger we are in. Several people have already asked me, "Why don't you just go home?" But I tell them, "No way." We who are here know that we are here for such a time as this. I believe God knew this was going to happen when He called me here, and that He has a specific role in mind for me and for my fellow workers in this time of dire crisis. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15

Continue to pray for us, and pray for God's love, glory, and most of all, hope, to be spread to the people of Japan in the midst of this disaster.
~ Anne



Saturday, 19 March 2011

I went to bed last night thinking what an impossible task lay before us to transport 90 tons of relief from the airport in Sendai to our new base. With fuel being rationed none of the companies that we could normally hire are driving, and the number of small 2-ton trucks needed would make it a logistical nightmare! But by mid-morning my nightmare turned into a dream, with three 20-ton trucks at our disposal with multiple backups as well. Samaritan's Purse will first fly the 747 into Yokota and then transfer it to smaller planes for the flight to Sendai. Once it reaches there our teams are poised to begin distribution through around 30 local churches to the surrounding communities.

Our command center team has been going non-stop from last Sunday from morning to night and tomorrow we will pause in the morning to worship our Lord before resuming our work from 2:00pm. Pray for this incredible group of missionaries, pastors, students and Christians who are serving their hearts out for the victims of this terrible disaster. Please pray for us
Jonathan Wilson, CRASH



Sunday, March 20, 2011 9:37 PM

Subject: Pray for Japan
Dear Friends and Supporting Churches,

It has now been 10 days since Japan was rocked by the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunamis. During that time, we have received dozens of e-mails inquiring of our safety. Many people have also been asking how they could pray for us and for the nation of Japan. If you have a few minutes, we would like to give you a quick update of our situation.

The Osaka area in which we serve is about 400 miles from where the earthquake struck. This means that, except for the initial earthquake (which Chris felt but Michael did not), we have been unaffected by ALL of what you are seeing on the news (aftershocks, tsunamis, radiation, rolling blackouts, gas shortages, etc…). For this, we are thankful.

However, we have still been impacted by these tragic events. As we watch the news, our hearts break for those who are suffering up north. Currently we are responding by trying to gather relief supplies down here (which aren't available up in Tokyo) and sending them up north. We have a friend who is loading up his truck and making the 15+ hour drive (one way!) to deliver the goods. He is doing this twice a week. Michael is also considering trying to head up to the region to help out and lend a hand wherever he is needed. There is a Christian relief organization in Japan called CRASH (www.crashjapan.com). They are coordinating much of the relief work, including the placement of volunteer workers. Michael hopes to hook up with them. The big question now is WHEN Michael might actually be able to do this. Please keep this in your prayers. Also, we have made our home available to house anyone who might be vacating the area. Please pray that the Lord would lead and guide us in this area as well.

Here are some ways that you can pray for Japan: - Pray for the people who are suffering. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in shelters. If that is not stressful enough, many people are also experiencing the grief of having lost family, friends and homes. On top of that, the shortage of food, heat, electricity, and water makes their situation unimaginable. Please pray that God would show mercy and that he would reveal himself as the "Father of compassion and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3).

- Pray for those who are offering assistance. Lot's of volunteers, money, food and relief supplies are going into the affected area. However, gas shortages, poor roads, and lack of communication networks makes the management of all of these things a logistical nightmare. Pray that all of those needing help would receive assistance in a smooth and timely manner.

- Pray for opportunities to minister to people who are outside of the effected areas. In general, the Japanese people tend to hold their true feelings and thoughts inside. Although I am sure that people are deeply impacted, they do not seem to be showing it. May the Lord give us opportunities to get beyond the façade and comfort those who are overcome with worry and fear. Especially with the unfolding of the nuclear reactor situation, even people down here in Osaka might begin to panic.

- Pray for the Japanese Christians. May God give them strength and compassion during this time of crisis. May they also have the faith and boldness to respond to the situation in such a way that they become salt and light to the world around them. Personally, I think that the history of the church in Japan has taught the Japanese Christians that they are the receivers of aid from overseas. As a result, they rarely see themselves as givers. This might be partially due to an inferiority complex. When you only make up 0.1% of the population, it is easy to feel invisible and insignificant. Already we have heard stories of churches that are unwilling to respond and get involved. Please pray that the current crisis would light a fire within the Japanese church so that they would become a people of action. Pray that the Christians would have courage to shine the light of Christ and make their presence (and God's presence) known during this current crisis. May thousands (millions!) of un-believers encounter the love of God through the words and deeds of His people in the coming months.

- Pray for the salvation of Japan. Many people have wondered why neighboring countries like Korea and China seem to be experiencing a mighty move of God and yet Japan remains largely unaffected. The theories are many, but whatever the reason, there is clearly a stronghold over this nation that is preventing people from coming to Jesus. Could this three-fold disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor troubles) be God's way of shaking that stronghold? There is no way to know for sure. However, one thing is for certain, all of Japan is now considering the bigger questions of life. Please pray that God would use this tragedy to create an openness to spiritual things. Pray that many, many people would hear the Gospel message, turn to God with humble hearts, and find new life in Jesus.

- Pray for revival. Without making light of the massive devastation caused by last week's tsunami, I am reminded of a Japanese-American speaker we heard at Mount Hermon last summer. The title of His book was "God's Tsunami." Might this have been prophetic? May a huge spiritual tsunami hit the entire nation of Japan, flooding the country with the love, peace, justice, compassion, righteousness and grace of our Heavenly Father.

Well, I am sorry that this is so long, but we really would appreciate your prayers at this strategic time. Thank you for all that you do for us.

May the Lord's presence be with you all.

In Him,
Michael and Chris Mason --
** KEEP CURRENT WITH THE MASONS **
Check out our "Updates" page at: www.masonsinjapan.com/currentupdates.html



Sunday, March 20, 2011 9:37 PM

From: SanLo JCC
Subject: Urgent prayer for delivery trucks to Sendai

We just talked to our daughter, Jessica, who is working with the relief organization, C.R.A.S.H., in Japan. There is a dire need for trucks to deliver tons of food and supplies to Sendai. Samaritans Purse has donated a second shipment of food and supplies but if it cannot be delivered it will soon go to waste. Please pray for God to provide trucks, gasoline, and drivers. Previously 45 trucks delivered the first donation by Samaritan's Purse but those trucks are no longer available and there are still so many people in need.

Together in prayer,
Pastor Brian

Sunday, March 20, 2011 9:37 PM

"But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."
Habakkuk 2:20

When I spent the night at home on Saturday I was so impressed with Rie's parents - they had turned off every light except for one small room and were doing everything they could to conserve energy to help the effort in Tohoku. It almost reminds me of a wartime footing with the entire nation enduring rationing of fuel and staple foods for the cause. And yet there is also an ugly specter of fear. When the news announced that water supplies in Tokyo might be unsafe for babies to drink, store shelves instantly emptied of bottled water - not just in Tokyo but throughout the country. Certain hotels have announced that would not accept evacuees from Fukushima without scanning them for radiation first. With this kind of fear, you can only imagine how scared and uncertain of their future are the people who live in Fukushima and how much they need the hope of Jesus Christ.

We are taking precautions so that volunteers who go into the area to serve the church and their communities are both safe and effective. When the US embassy announced its recommendation that US citizens stay more than 80km from the reactor we decided to pull back our proposed base sites to 100 km. The Japanese government is suggesting evacuation for its citizens from a much smaller radius of 30km.

In addition we have established a system of monitoring devices for our three regional bases affected. Each base and every team sent from a base to serve the surrounding churches and communities are monitored daily for the amount of radiation they have been exposed to. During their time of service no team is allowed to receive more than a very conservative exposure to radiation.

Every day I hear of courageous Japanese pastors who are staying in their communities well within 80km to minister to the people in their hour of need. Pray for these servants of God and for the CRASH teams that are helping deliver food, supplies and hope to those in need.

God Bless You,
Jonathan Wilson (DIRECTOR-CRASH JAPAN)



March 12, 2011

Japan Christans Praying for Japan
Anne Winters 9:59 PM

I'm supposed to be strong, right? I'm not supposed to let being physically shaken equal being spiritually shaken.

I know I'm supposed to trust God and maintain my faith in him and know that everything's going to be all right.

But when I prayed for it stop, it didn't. It still hasn't. Intellectually, I can deal with it. Over and over again, I've read all the reasons why God lets bad things happen. But emotionally, I feel abandoned and heartbroken.

I'm supposed to be the strong super-missionary who goes and does what needs to be done and never says a word of blame to God. At least, that's what I feel like I need to be. Again, intellectually I know this isn't true, that the way I feel is natural and normal, and that God loves me in spite of my weakness.

But what I know and what I feel are two different things. I'm sick of the ground shaking beneath my feet, and every time the ground shakes, my faith shakes with it. But all I can do is keep praying, because I've come this far; I can't give up on God now.

Something weird just happened between the time I finished that paragraph and the time I started this one. An aftershock hit. A bit one, strong enough to make me stand and think about grabbing my panic bag to go downstairs. I prayed, "God, make it stop, please just make it stop." I made myself say, "I trust you" but the words were sour in my mouth. I felt like there were still residual tremors. And then I had this moment of realization: the ground had stopped; I was the one still shaking.

Those first couple of nights, I hardly slept. Aftershocks rocked the building, sometimes with less than five minutes of respite in between. I dozed with my clothes on, in my winter coat, emergency bags by the door, because I couldn't know whether one big aftershock would leave me homeless. I couldn't get any deep sleep until the sun began to rise. I don't know if I felt safer in the gray light of dawn, or if I was just too exhausted from fear and grief to stay awake any longer.

And I prayed, longer and harder than I ever had in my life. They were bitter prayers, prayers full of tears and anger. I felt abandoned. I felt betrayed. If God is a God of love, how could He allow so much suffering here? I watched the news, I saw the videos of houses like my friends' and neighbors' houses and people like my friends and neighbors being swept away, and in anguish I cried out to God to save us.

"We are crying out. Where are you?" reads my journal from March 16th, written in candlelight during a scheduled blackout. "Where are You?"

As that first week dragged on, the aftershocks reduced in frequency, but an added danger heightened the tension: houshasen. Radiation.

Omochanomachi is around 100 km from the troubled Fukushima power plant. In that first week, the explosions and the fires left us all wondering how much worse it could get. Between news broadcasts, I educated myself on radiation and its effects on the body, what levels were harmful and what levels weren't. I dedicated myself to the spread of proper information. So much fear permeated the news, especially back in America.

I also dedicated myself to helping in any way possible. I asked Pastor Rick Chuman, "What can I do? I want to help."

He told me to see what I could do about volunteering with CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support, and Hope) Japan. I started my work via the internet, and as early as March 12th, I had found my niche: someone posted on the facebook asking for a bullet-point prayer list for Japan. Desperate to do anything, I got to work right away. As the week dragged on, I would find new items in the news and expand the prayer list. Someone translated it into Japanese. In the next couple of weeks, it would be translated into eight other languages and spread all over the world.

On March 18th, a week after the calamity, Nakamura-sensei, Pastor Rick, I, and my mother conversed via Skype. Nakamura-sensei thought it best that I leave Omochanomachi for the time being; with the nuclear power plant situation being so dire, she was concerned for my health. The truth was, I wanted to leave for an entirely different reason; I wanted to go to Tokyo to volunteer in person with CRASH. After discussing the options and praying, we all agreed that I would leave the next day.

Saturday evening, after spending almost four hours on trains and in train stations, I arrived at CRASH's headquarters in Higashi Kurume. I had hoped that they would send me to the field, but for two weeks, I worked in the office. I managed the internet forum, and I continued the prayer list. From time to time, I heard myself referred to as "that prayer girl."

At first, I struggled with that, if I'm going to be honest. Everyone around me was doing useful things; coordinating volunteers, sorting supplies, establishing base camps. And here I was, doing the exact same thing I'd been doing from home. I felt sidelined. I did anything anybody needed at the moment. That made me feel a little more useful. But in the end, I didn't know what my job or even what my department was. I didn't know who I answered to or who I should ask about things. I did the odd jobs, I watched the news, I updated the prayer list, I coordinated the translations. I felt so useless.

Pictured: Anne Winter and Volunteers traveling to Shibuya meeting with church leaders.

crash volunteers in japanBut I was where I needed to be. Being at CRASH Headquarters was healing for my soul, not only from the trauma of what we had all experienced, but also from the exhaustion of spending months on my own, a missionary with no team and no other native English speaking friends nearby. To be around so many Christians, working toward the same goal with all the energy they could muster, and to be able to speak freely in my native tongue, was just what my heart needed to be able to start healing.

And I learned about prayer from the passion of others. People would say things like, "I appreciate your passion for prayer," and all I could think was, "No, you don't understand. This is just what I was saddled with. I'd have been this passionate about any job that they gave me." I didn't understand why I had this job with prayer when all of these other people seemed so much more passionate about it than I was.

My journal from March 25th reads, "What I'm learning- Prayer is not the sidelines. Prayer is as frontline as you can get." A group came from the States that day, not to go to the field and pass out supplies or clean up houses. Their main mission was prayer. It was all they wanted to do. Their passion for prayer, their conviction that it was the most important thing anyone could be doing, really convicted and impassioned me. My job would also lead me to work with several other men and women who were staunch prayer warriors. My job would lead me to sit at a table in a meeting with four men my father's age, just talking about prayer and how we could get more people praying in, with, and for Japan. That meeting was such an amazing, humbling experience, to sit and hear their passion and their ideas about prayer, and to wonder why I was there when I had so little to offer.

I would also learn about prayer through my Korean-American roommate. On Monday, May 28th, I fell very ill. I don't know how high my fever was, but it was so bad that I couldn't stop shaking. When she realized how sick I was, she asked me, "Can I pray for you?" As soon as I said, "Yes," she pressed her hand down on me and began to pray quietly in Korean. The moment she touched me, I stopped shaking. For several minutes, she prayed for me, and I did not shake again until she took her hand off of me. I will never forget how powerful that moment was.

I don't have stories about helping people whose houses were demolished by waves. I don't have heartwrenching tales of sitting and crying with a woman whose children were swept away. I still don't understand why God didn't call me to help in that way when I wanted, indeed, still want so badly to go where the hurt is and help bring healing. The hurt is still so fresh for so many.

But there is one thing I do understand: the best and most important thing any of us can do is pray.

On March 11, 2011, I was clinging to a doorframe, praying, "God, make this stop. Keep us safe. Make this stop. Keep us safe." Only one half of that prayer was answered: God kept us safe. Even that tastes a little bitter; why us? Why were we spared when so many others suffered so horribly? I don't know why He didn't make it stop. I'll never know why. I think I'll be wrestling with that question for the rest of my life. But I do know that when we pray, we draw close to the heart of God. When my heart was breaking for Japan, so was God's. Our prayers are precious to God, even if (maybe especially if) the answer is the furthest thing from satisfying. Although for a time I felt lost and betrayed, I know now that God never left me, and God never left Japan.

When I was sitting in a dark kitchen asking, "Where are you?" God was sitting in a high school gym with hundreds of thousands of bereaved, homeless Japanese, holding a now-childless mother, whispering, "I am here."

Author Note: When the earthquake hit, I and my coworkers rushed down the stairs and out of the building. That was the most dangerous thing we could have done. If you are inside and a large earthquake strikes, get under a table or hit the floor near an inside wall and cover your head. Doorframes are not actually safer. Do not try to go downstairs to escape a building in an earthquake. Visit FEMA.org for more information on earthquake safety.



April, 2011

It has been a little over a month since the enormous earthquake and Tsunami struck Eastern Japan. Thousands of people have lost their loved ones, their homes, their businesses and pretty much everything they owned. A peaceful and affluent country suddenly turned into a place filled with sorrow, distress, ruins and rubble.

I was at the grocery store when the quake struck. I thought that I was feeling dizzy and tried to grab something to brace myself. Then I looked around, and everybody was standing still with terrified faces. When it stopped shaking, I immediately left the store and ran home to be with my husband. We turned on the TV to find out what was going on. We were stunned by what we saw. The buildings were rocking violently back and forth, glass and rubble were flying, and giant tsunami waves were rushing toward seaside towns and sweeping away entire cities. I could not believe what I was seeing.

I immediately tried calling my parents but could not get through. I finally reached my father who worked in Tokyo. He told me that he had been walking on the railroad for several hours to get home because all the means of transportation were disrupted after the quake. Thankfully, we were able to contact all of our family members and friends within a few hours and made sure everyone was okay.

However, we were gradually coming into a clear view of the situation. The circumstances were much worse than any of us imagined. I would watch the news and cry day after day. Like so many others, I felt helpless and was at a loss in piecing together God’s sovereignty and mercy. All I could do was pray from the Psalms. But I knew God was trying to communicate something significant with us. I began to ask what He wanted me to do for my people who were suffering and broken only a few hours away.

While officials were advising lay volunteers not to enter the devastated areas, some of our missionary friends stood up and started taking actions anyways. We knew that many were desperately waiting for help at this time. Under the leadership of these missionaries, local churches in Nagoya and other parts of Japan started collecting relief items and sending them by trucks. After a TV interview, neighbors and others from our community began dropping off supplies at the church building. The Church of Christ became the light of the world and the salt of the city.

Two weeks after the earthquake, we were able to join a team for a several-day trip up to Iwate prefecture. We brought two truck loads of supplies, but had no idea where we would sleep or what we would do. We humbly asked God to lead our way and give us wisdom to help and encourage the people there. It was shocking to see rows of houses and buildings reduced to rubble. Cars were hanging from power poles, the ground was covered with a supposedly toxic sludge, and the whole city reeked with a strange odor. Yet a church building with a big cross was firmly standing in the midst of the destruction.

Christian volunteers from all over the country had come to the rescue of the church and its city. They had brought all sorts of supplies to provide the needy. There was a wood burning stove outside the church (brought by a pastor from Hokkaido), and people in the community would huddle around the fire to keep warm. This church had become a community center – something I have never seen in Japan.

We began to build relationships with survivors. We helped them clean up their homes and their shops, listened to their stories, prayed with them, and even sang a song about God’s love to one woman who had lost her husband. It was obvious that God was pouring His mercy on these people. Still, they are broken, helpless, and in need of eternal hope. Our Christian brothers and sisters, please continue to pray for them that they will find eternal hope and life in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

We also must remember that in the past 12 years or so, more than 30,000 people per year commit suicide in Japan. Japan has always been devastated and in need of prayer. I believe that there has never been this many people earnestly praying for Japan in all of history. This tragedy seems to be a wake up call for the global church, not to “spread our religion,” but to bring Christ’s saving love to the lost. I am so thankful that Christ is risen indeed! He is eternal hope for Japan. Please see our blog for more details about our experiences in Tohoku, relief work, etc. http://kevinandnozomi.wordpress.com

May the Lord Jesus bless you,
Nozomi West



April 2011

Paul Ariga Mission Prayer Letter
On March 11, 2011 The Unprecedented 4th World Worst and Japan’s Worst Earthquake and Tsunami hit the Eastern Japan. “ I saw Hell”, “ My daily life was completely destroyed”, “Children returning from school suddenly disappeared”, “All family members were scattered in all directions”.

By March 22, Dead Persons: 9,080. Missing Persons: 12,920. Refugees: 237,085 in 46 prefectures....

To download the full Paul Ariga pdf missions letter, please click here



Help 4 Japan

If you’re a friend of JEMS, or new to us, please help us support and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters (both Japanese and foreign missionaries) in Japan. As the JEMS community, let’s show our love for Japan as we support CRASH. Thank you for your help

For more information please visit: www.crashjapan.com