The following letter is an update on the situation in Japan that was written by a Baptist missionary named John Armagost. His message comes to The Mountain News via Carol Wright of Graham, who received it through her faith community’s prayer circle.
It has been three weeks since the earthquake that brought one of the largest tsunamis to ever hit Japan. They say it was a wave 100 feet high in some places, washing miles inland in places. About 30,000 people are reported dead or missing. In addition over 175,000 are living in shelters, most have lost everything they owned. On top of this there is the nuclear power plant problem.
Statistics like these seem both overwhelming and a little cold, so I want to share what some of our Baptist pastors living in that area are saying. Rev. Tsuchiya is pastor of the Taira Baptist Church in Fukushima prefecture, about 25 miles from the nuclear power plant. He reports that many people from the prefecture have had to take refuge outside of Fukushima. In addition some of the small fishing villages in that area have yet to receive any help for the clean up. However, water has been restored in some places and so they sent some of their bottled water up to the Nishikiori Baptist Church. He says, “It is one distressed area helping another.” He added, “Because of the fear of radiation fallout, people living in this area are on edge.”
Rev. Yamada, pastor of the Shiogama Baptist Church reports that food is slowly appearing in stores. Lines however, are long. People often wait 4 or 5 hours for heating kerosene (gas has yet to be restored) and longer for gasoline. He says, “People are getting tense and emotionally rundown” as each day is spent searching for daily necessities.
The emotional strain can be easily overlooked. When I was there just a couple days after the earthquake, I stayed with Rev. Yamada and his family at the church’s kindergarten.
Another young family with three small children had also taken refuge at the kindergarten. Each night as we all slept together in one large room, the children would wake in the night crying from nightmares. One night as I tried to sleep, I could hear a rumbling, like a truck coming up the road, except we were not near a road. It was after I heard the earthquake coming that the floor began to shake. After that the children began to cry.
Right now pastors and churches are trying to help people meet their daily life needs by providing food, water and other necessities. Your gifts are important in helping them meet these physical needs. Your prayers are important to support them as they also provide emotional and spiritual help to their communities.
Thank you for your prayers and gifts.
Grace and Peace,