The Reformed Church in Japan has recently determined how it will disperse the more than 50 million yen -- about $650,000 in U.S. currency -- that it has received from its initial, large-scale fund-raising campaign following the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11.
At a special assembly meeting late last week, RCJ officials said about one-third of the more than 50 million yen that the denomination has raised has come from 20 overseas sources.
"We give thanks that the campaign was blessed by the prayers and donations from many churches and individuals from around the world," says a RCJ news release.
The RCJ says that the church gives its “heartfelt thanks to the Lord” that in this brief period of time – and under trying circumstances -- that this amount of money has been donated.
"Prayers of the churches have continually been offered in the prayer meetings and pastoral prayers at morning worship since March 11. The collections have been offered right along with everyone’s prayers. We give honor to the name of our God who has made this possible," says the news release.
Larry Spalink, Christian Reformed World Missions country director for Japan, translated the news release from Japanese into English.
"This (initial fund-raising campaign) is only phase one of the response," says Spalink. "The plans for phase two will be formalized over the next three months, but of course donations are already being received for phase two, including from the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and several other foreign groups. Some aspects of the phase two response are already clear."
Even though many RCJ congregations were impacted by the disaster, members of those churches were willing to donate to the relief and reconstruction effort. At last weekend’s special assembly, the RCJ determined to disperse the donations to:
- Emergency, short-term relief projects
- Support to Reformed Church in Japan believers with losses
- Support to "tent-maker" pastors of evangelistic stations
- Support to damaged churches and to help secure worship facilities
- Support to causes outside the Reformed Church in Japan such as the Sendai Christian Coalition; International Food for the Hungry; Yodogawa Christian Hospital, and a few other causes.
The outlines for the second campaign and response activities will be drawn up for consideration by the October regular general assembly meeting.
Last weekend’s assembly also approved the "Principles to Guide Use of Funds Raised to Support Relief for the Disaster" that was drawn up earlier.
Since the RCJ had set a goal of receiving 60 million yen in donations, it is adjusting how much money will be disbursed to the various causes. At the same time, say RCJ officials, "We believe that the offerings from each believer are fully in accord with what they have been able to give."
In a news release, the RCJ reported that the actual damages incurred by its churches has turned out to be less than they had first thought ,which allows the church to adjust the disbursements accordingly.
"In regard to the disbursements for general social relief, while taking into consideration the goal of giving 25 percent of all funds received for this purpose in accordance with the 'Principles,' we have been able to increase this amount somewhat," say RCJ officials.