Thanking concerned volunteers for their many offers to serve in Japan, Maggie Karner, director of Life and Health Ministries with LCMS World Relief and Human Care, says the Synod’s response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami differs from its work after disasters in developing countries. Volunteers are not needed now, she said, but likely will be needed later for the “long haul” of recovery and rebuilding.
Unlike Indonesia and Haiti, which are considered developing countries with limited internal capacity for disaster response, Japan has “tremendous capacity and a first-rate disaster response and health care system,” Karner said in a March 15 statement from LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC). “While their infrastructure is seriously damaged and interrupted, this internal capacity has already allowed them to get an immediate start on the process of response and recovery. Despite anecdotal news reports to the contrary and because that infrastructure is so fragile, right now the last thing they need from us is more people on site or mouths to feed.”
Only responders with large, self-contained capacity measures (such as international military responders) are permitted in the disaster area so they don’t use precious resources, Karner said.
“In fact, our partners at the Lutheran Church of Japan and our on-the-ground missionaries have told us ‘don’t come.’ Instead, they covet our prayers and ask that our assistance be ready for the next phase of rebuilding when the initial emergency responders leave,” Karner said.
This second phase of disaster response is traditionally where the expertise of WR-HC “shines at its finest — when we settle in for the ‘long haul’ and administer rebuilding and recovery projects for years to come in Christ’s name,” Karner said. “In the meantime, we watch and pray for those who are dealing with the grief and aftermath of this disaster. We pray that our Lord will provide clear paths for His mercy to be administered through His people and for the Gospel to bring hope to a weary land.”
Karner said she thanks everyone for their many offers of service and concern. “When our defined response becomes appropriate, we will update you,” she said.
For regular updates on the LCMS response in Japan and opportunities to support that work in the days and months to come, visit www.lcms.org/help.
Posted March 16, 2011