As of April 28, donors had given $1,317,385.73 for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and its partners in Japan to aid those affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
But, by the time you read this, that figure will have gone up, as “it changes by the minute,” according to Hans Springer, associate executive director for Fund Development with LCMS World Relief and Human Care (WR-HC).
Springer says that, while he’s “delighted” to have reached that milestone, he’s not surprised.
“The people of the LCMS have a heart for wanting to help people who are in need” — they “always want to help,” he told Reporter. “And we’re thankful that they continue to respond.”
So far the Synod has sent $300,000 to its Japanese Lutheran partners and has pledged a long-term response.
Recovery and rebuilding efforts in Japan are expected to be needed “a minimum of four to five years out,” according to Rev. John Fale, WR-HC interim executive director. But that’s what the LCMS is called to do, Fale said — “commit to our partners and … assure them that we aren’t going away and we will be there for the long haul.”
Shipments of rice, water, instant foods and bananas are being distributed to disaster survivors along the coast of Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures by Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief, a partnership of four major Lutheran church bodies in Japan. That partnership includes the Japan Lutheran Church (JLC), an LCMS partner church body.
According to an April 15 email from the JLC, a “Lutheran Volunteer Support Center — Tonaribito” is being set up in Sendai. “Tonaribito” means “neighbor” in Japanese.
Volunteers from the LCMS are not being requested at this time, however, because of concerns raised by the Japanese government and local communities.
Japan Lutheran Emergency Relief plans to provide food and water for three months to those who need help, according to the report, and sees “mental care” as a priority for a “long time.” Counselors and “education” will be provided to those who are still fearful, depressed because of lost jobs, grieving lost loved ones and caring for others.
Financial aid will be needed to pay school expenses for students who lost their parents in the disaster and for those who have needs not covered by public aid programs. Support also will be needed for those who will move from emergency shelters to transitional housing, according to the report.
According to JLC leaders, Japanese Lutherans will strive to “be neighbors for those who are suffering” in a country where less than 1 percent of the population is Christian.
The report also shares an email from a member of a Lutheran church in Sendai — who writes, “What we need the most is your prayers” — and encourages Japanese Lutherans to take part in a “prayer circle” by praying for “those who are suffering, those who worry, those who do volunteer work and those who take part in dangerous work,” and sharing that prayer worldwide via the Internet.
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.
Posted April 15, 2011/Updated April 28, 2011