In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami catastrophe on March 11, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s global partners and mission co-workers have been buoyed by the transformative power and solidarity of prayer.
The Presbyterian World Mission ministry area has been in contact with several of its partner organizations and churches and with all of its mission workers in Japan since the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Messages from PC(USA) mission partners and institutions have expressed thanks and provided information about specific situations and responses. “[Your] encouragement makes us realize in Christ we are not alone,” wrote the Korean Christian Church in Japan Many tell about churches and members suffering from the disaster, refugees living in shelters, and the shortage of food, relief supplies, and fuel. But they are organizing to assess the needs and help get aid to those in the greatest need. A spokesman for the Reformed Church of Japan wrote: “We would like to be effective witnesses to the Lord in the midst of devastation.”
The United Church of Christ (Kyodan), the church the PC(USA) works most closely with, reported a number of members missing and at least one confirmed death. A staff member of a nursery school related to Iwaki Church died on the day of the earthquake while communicating with the children’s parents. Some of the churches have hosted refugees. The chapel of Shinsei Kamaishi Church in the coastal fishing city of Kamaishi was reportedly filled with mud and oil. Built in 2000, it was known as a pioneer “eco-church,” with a solar-power system and transparent glass roof.
Rev. Isamu Koshiishi, moderator of the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ), is thankful for the prayers of so many in the United States. He says the NCCJ’s assessing the damages and recovery will take some time, but “we have been encouraged and strengthened by the many messages of support from our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world. Our immediate request is for you to continue to keep us in your prayers as we are coordinating a network of local support for those most severely affected. At this time of our great need, we want you to know how grateful we are for your expressions of support and solidarity.”
“We are touched by your prayers,” wrote an officer of the Kyodan. Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka, one of the institutions with which the PC(USA) has had a strong relationship, wrote: “Thank you so very much for your prayers. Our hospital patients and staff and their families are all safe, but our hearts ache as the earthquake disasters are spreading in other parts of Japan. We are praying for God’s protection and comfort over those people in the earthquake-affected areas.”