By Kim Plummer Krull
At the one-month anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, strong aftershocks continue to plague Japan. At least four people were killed by tremors April 7 and 11, according to news reports, and the most recent aftershock left more than 240,000 residents without power, adding more suffering in an already disaster-weary country.
The aftershocks shook buildings as far as away as Tokyo and rattled nerves in communities where tens of thousands of homeless Japanese still live in emergency shelters after the March 11 quake triggered a powerful tsunami.
Long before the most recent aftershock, LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC) and ministry partners were preparing for a long-term response in Japan — recovery and rebuilding efforts that are expected to be needed “a minimum of four to five years out,” says Rev. John Fale, WR-HC interim executive director.
In an interview April 7 with KFUO Radio about LCMS relief work in Japan, Fale mentioned a telephone conversation with Darin Storkson, WR-HC regional director in Asia, about projects in India that continue to help survivors of the 2004 tsunami.
“So I anticipate that our response to Japan is going to be several years out, but that’s what we are called to, and that’s been the experience of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in our responses, that we commit to our partners and we assure them that we aren’t going away and we will be there for the long haul,” Fale said.
With the help of donors, WR-HC committed an initial total of $300,000 to Japanese Lutheran partners for relief efforts.
In March, Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief (JLER) began weekly shipments of food and water to survivors in hard-hit areas. The deliveries are made with four four-ton trucks obtained by the JLER, a newly formed partnership that includes the Japan Lutheran Church, an LCMS partner church.
Also in the works are plans to send trained LCMS pastoral caregivers to assist Japanese Lutheran pastors who feel “intense stress,” Fale said, as they care for frazzled congregations, communities and their own families. LCMS President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison also is planning a trip to Japan to consult with church leaders and offer pastoral care, Fale said.
While the number of confirmed deaths continues to climb, officials have said in news reports that more than 25,000 people are believed to have died in the March 11 disaster.
Just as suffering continues in Japan, LCMS donors continue to give. To date, caring members have organized fundraisers, Sunday collections and made individual contributions that now total nearly $700,000.
“Thanks be to God that He continues to provide through our gracious donors,” Fale said in the KFUO Radio interview. As people in the United States see problems around the world, he said, we realize “how truly blessed that we are and all of the goodness that God has provided for us spiritually and materially.”
It is the Gospel that “opens peoples’ hearts and wallets, and they really do want to help people who struggle throughout the world, and so they have been giving generously,” Fale said.
To contribute to the Synod’s disaster response in Japan:
- 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.
To download an updated Japan disaster response bulletin insert, click here.
Compiled from news sources, including The Associated Press and BBC News.
Kim Plummer Krull is a freelance writer and member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo.
This story was produced by LCMS World Relief and Human Care.
Posted April 8, 2011/Updated April 11, 2011