By Kim Plummer Krull
Our Japanese Lutheran partners are appreciative of LCMS support and our “ministry of presence,” LCMS World Mission’s Rev. John Mehl told LCMS President Matthew C. Harrison the day after LCMS and Japanese ministry leaders met in Tokyo to discuss “the years and years of work” that the church bodies can tackle together after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The Japan Lutheran Church (JLC) is “very grateful, not only because we have given them some funding, but also because, they said, ‘You came all the way to be with us,'” said Mehl, World Mission’s regional director for Asia, in a March 31 consultation with Harrison via Skype. (A video of the consultation can be found at www.lcms.org/help.)
The JLC’s current emergency response of providing truckloads of water and rice for disaster survivors and specific ways the LCMS is offering to help its partner church with long-term recovery was the focus of the first face-to-face meeting of JLC and LCMS ministry leaders since the disaster that struck the northeast coast of Japan.
The meeting was held March 30 in Tokyo.
A significant concern in Japan is the potential effect of radiation leaking from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. A gift of dosimeters to JLC President Rev. Yutaka Kumei was “profoundly welcome,” Mehl said. He also described how LCMS World Relief and Human Care’s (WR-HC) Darin Storkson secured the radiation-detection equipment from a source in France and carried the detectors on an overnight flight to Tokyo. The JLC can use the dosimeters as they work in areas affected by the power-plant accident, which is compounding the humanitarian crisis.
A big fear in Japan now, Mehl said, “is what you can’t see — radiation.”
Harrison noted the role Storkson, WR-HC regional director in Asia, played in the LCMS long-term response following the 2004 South Asian tsunami, and the experience LCMS ministries can use to help Japanese Lutheran partners.
The LCMS can “come alongside as partners and increase the capacity” of Japanese Lutheran partners in relief efforts “as they see appropriate,” Harrison said, speaking from the LCMS International Center in St. Louis.
The LCMS president acknowledged gifts of some $500,000 for Japan disaster relief and urged congregations and individual donors to continue giving. “When we all do that as 6,000 congregations of the Synod, the result is rather extraordinary,” he said. Such an effort, he, added, will help meet needs expected to continue well into the future.
To contribute to the Synod’s response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami:
- mail checks (noting “Japan Disaster Relief” in the memo line) to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, P.O. Box 66861, St. Louis, MO 63166-6861.
- call toll-free 888-930-4438.
- give online at Disaster Relief Fund for Japan.
For more information and resources, visit www.lcms.org/help.
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
Posted March 31, 2011