Update March 18
Today, as we praise God that our national staff in Japan are all accounted for, we find their circumstances changing.
After surviving the tremendous force of a devastating earthquake and a tsunami of epic proportions, they now face the threat of radiation from the damaged nuclear plants. For staff who are working to minister to those around them, this new crisis brings new challenges.
Because of the threat in some areas, some of our student and university workers are being evacuated to safety in southern Japan and some back to their homelands. Yet others will be staying behind to continue working to share the hope of Christ within their neighborhoods and communities.
We're also concerned about the long-term effects of these brave men and women's staff support. Until now, they've been almost fully funded by their own countrymen -- Japanese Christians. But many of their supporters have suffered unspeakable loss in the earthquake and tsunami, and also face possible mandatory evacuation in the days ahead. Even as these brothers and sisters long to continue to support our staff, they have in many cases lost every ability to do so.
Currently less than 1% of Japanese people are Christians. Our staff act as national missionaries, reaching out to those who have lost everything in this world -- and do not have the hope of Christ. We need to share Christ with them while their hearts are open.
The men, women and children in Japan watched helplessly as friends and family were killed, livelihoods destroyed and all earthly possessions were swept away.
But WE do not need to watch helplessly as they suffer without hope. Please join us in prayer and support of our faithful missionaries and the people of Japan.
The Change Conference being held near Shinjuku in Tokyo went well, but fewer students attended due to the disasters in the Tohoku region.
Kevin Grip, East Japan’s Crisis Team Leader said, “Here in Tokyo we've encountered a number of inconveniences, such as commuter trains running at irregular times, gasoline stations closed for lack of fuel, and empty shelves in local stores for some items. On top of this we have had a few tremors and the ever-present concern about radiation exposure from the nuclear reactor in Fukushima.”
While the earthquake off the coast of Sendai was strongly felt in Tokyo, staff members were not in imminent danger from it or the subsequent tsunami. At that time, the disaster was mostly limited to the Tohoku region. Though serious, the situation was not a threat to the safety of JCCC staff or STINT members.
Japan’s leadership team is praying for God's wisdom in handling this situation. They appreciate your prayers as well.
Please joins us in praying for those who are suffering in the Tohoku region.
Measured at 8.9 by the US Geological Survey, an earthquake struck northern Japan (250 miles northeast of Tokyo) at 2:46 p.m. local time, Friday, March 11, 2011.
The tremor triggered a massive tsunami that has claimed lives and swept cars, ships, airplanes, buildings and homes away in a wall of water.
Some people remain stranded while trains and roads have not returned to full operation.
Many regions will be experiencing rolling blackouts and gasoline will be rationed.
Thousands are dead with hundreds still missing.
Country Team Leader for Japan, Weng Kong, says, “We are all OK but physically tired. I managed to contact all of our staff in other parts of Japan and they are all OK. We are expecting more tremors during the next 30 days or so -- so we need to be on stand by. Our office is OK and the system and server are still working. Pray for our staff members as they think of ways to go up to the areas to help.”
From March 14-17, Cru staff members are facilitating a National Student Conference in Tokyo. More than 200 are attending.
They are praying God will use this time to bring many students into a relationship with Jesus. The staff team will be talking with the students about future plans for relief work opportunities.
Japan’s Cru leadership team has activated their crisis management and each staff member knows who to contact and what to do. They are setting up another team just in case Tokyo is hit.
Because it is impossible at this time to visit the disaster areas, the leadership team is working alongside other organizations to arrange relief plans for the affected areas.
Until plans for relief are organized, staff members are praying for other ways to serve.
Amber Kinneer contributed to this report.