The Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ) continues on a daily basis the arduous task of restoring homes, counseling, and praying for and healing families and individuals who were wounded in many ways following this year’s Great East Japan Earthquake.
With the help of its partners, tthe RCJ also continuies other restoration efforts, including helping decontaminate facilities and people who were victims of radioactive fallout from nuclear power plants swamped by the tsunami that followed the earthquake.
The RCJ says it appreciates the help of such partners as Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) and the Christians Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), and Back to God Ministries International, the electronic media outreach of the CRC. BTGMI’s Japanese media ministry proclaims the Good News of the Gospel through radio, websites and Internet accessible cell-phones.
In order to keep doing the needed relief and restoration, the RCJ’s 66th general assembly recently adopted the second phase of a fund-raising campaign to raise a total of about Y $60 million, which is equivalent to about $770,000 in U.S. currency, to help in the ongoing clean-up, reconstruction, decontamination, and evangelistic efforts.
Although the disaster has slipped from the news headlines as other disasters have occurred around the world, Japan still has a great deal of work to do in reconstructing facilities and helping to rebuild people’s lives.
“This disaster has rained down immense damage on the very widespread Northeast Japan region. The tsunami in particular wiped away the lives of many people and destroyed many homes, and it also swept away many churches in the area . . . most of the groups in that area will find it very difficult to recover and rebuild on their own,” says the report of the RCJ’s 66th general assembly.
Particular attention in this next phase will be to continue to take measurements of radioactivity levels in areas affected by the damage done to Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. “We will take appropriate measures for decontamination when needed,” says the report.
When necessary, the RCJ is also evacuating persons from the contiminated areas.
The RCJ will focus its decontamination efforts on the Fukushima Evagelistic Station, the Watari Evangelistic Station and the Shiroishi Evangelistic Station, but also as needed in the affected regions of the East Kanto Presbytery and Eastern Presbytery, says the report.
The next phase of the fund-raising campaign will have three parts:
- Restoration of church buildings
- Support of restoration activities by the churches
- Support of mission activities focused on diaconal service.
Larry Spalink, leader of the Japan Team for Crwm, says the Christian Reformed Church, including CRWM and the CRWRC, will remain involved in the ongoing restoration and rehabilitation efforts.
“I myself am deeply involved in this activity . . . We will discuss whether and how we might share our vision and plans with interested people and groups who are willing to help” the Japanese church rebuild that part of their country, says Spalink.
“Thank you for your ongoing prayers and interest in the efforts here to deal with an ongoing difficult situation, even as disasters in Turkey and Thailand also draw our attention.”
In the general assembly report that Spalink translated, it says: “The campaign period will go until the next regular general assembly, and offerings will be received until July 31, 2012. The support activities will be carried out with this funding and will continue beyond the period set for the offering campaign. The General Assembly Diaconal Action Committee will have responsibility for the stewardship of these funds, including their disbursement.”
Funds will especially go to help restore the Ishinomaki Evangelistic Station, which was heavily damaged in the disaster. The Kita-Nakayama Evangelistic Station was also damaged, especially its foundation and the first and second floors. Sendai Church will receive emergency repairs with assistance of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Stage two of major reconstruction will be carried out as circumstances permit and arrangements can be made.
Funding will also be used for restoration activities by the churches; enabling presbytery-wide fellowship and strengthening the pastors, and proving funds for elders and deacons and steering committee members to attend trainings and meetings.
Playing an important role in this ongoing effort, says the RSJ report, is The Cooperating Missions Coalition, of which Spalink is the secretary. It is composed of representatives from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church Japan Mission (OPCJM), the Christian Reformed Church in North America, Mission Japan, and the Korean Presbyterian Church Japan Mission (Kosin).
“All have been communicating closely with the Northeastern Presbytery and the RCJ committee for mission cooperation and international ecumenism,” says the report.
The Coalition’s activities involve . . . multi-faceted relief response to the various needs . . . This involves buying or renting facilities to use as response centers, dispatching dedicated staff workers, and carrying out activities for a two-to-three year period.
Short-term activities of the Coalition include supplying needed commodities, mud-out work, demolition and repairing of damaged structures. Long-term activities will include “heart-care” activities for local folks.
In addressing the Northeastern Presbytery of the RCJ, the reports says that the presbytery continues its organization and activities under great duress.There is also a need to find successors for home missionaries who have been working there.
Restoration in the Northeastern area will take many years, and plans for restoration of the region’s society is not something that can be drawn up quickly. “Therefore, we will begin with a response to emergency needs, and we will adjust activities as we continually watch developments over the middle and long term,” says the report.
"The damage wreaked by the tsunami was concentrated along the coastal area, and most of the groups in that area will find it very difficult to recover and rebuild on their own," says the report.
"This disaster has shaken the lives of the citizenry at its foundation. If there are people related to the RCJ groups who are working to provide relief to that area society, we will give them our help, and we will send offerings to social welfare organizations that operate based on Christian principles."
Among these, says the report, "we will include assistance to International Food for the Hungry with whom the CRWRC partners and also the Southern Presbyterian Mission in Japan’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital, which is providing medical assistance in Iwate Prefecture."
"In order to get started with planning for the future, the pastors of the NEP will need healing from the serious wounds to their spirits caused by this disaster and will need to gather repeatedly to discuss how to move forward," says the report.
Evangelism in the NEP area will be outreach to those bearing the wounds of this disaster. Evangelistic activity is necessary everywhere in Japan, but the spreading of the Gospel is especially demanded as the mission of churches in the disaster-hit Northeast region. "So we will give support to the evangelistic activities of the churches and evangelistic stations of the NEP," says the report.
Donations are accepted through CRWRC, the relief and development arm of the Christian Reformed Church.
Please pray for the people of Japan in the wake of a powerful earthquake and tsunami. Check back for updates or follow the CRCNA on Facebook or on Twitter. To link to the CRC’s Japan Update page: www.crcna.org/Japan.