Japan relief effort making headway, despite challenges
March 28, 2011
TOKYO --- Excellent progress is being made on developing partnerships and training church members for disaster response in Japan, but major obstacles stand in the way of an effective disaster relief effort, the executive director of Baptist Global Response said March 28.
“Tokyo Baptist Church is proving to be, as we anticipated, a great partner for responding,” said Jeff Palmer. “They have people, connections and resources to help mount an effective response. We face, however, significant challenges in the area of basic logistics: purchasing fuel, acquiring relief supplies in bulk quantities, and things like that.”
The new, four-member response team that arrived in Tokyo March 23 has had very productive consultations with Japanese Baptist leaders and partner humanitarian groups and is setting up a command center for a unified Southern Baptist disaster relief initiative, Palmer said.
Two disaster relief specialists from the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network are working with Tokyo Baptist Church leadership to conduct training sessions on mass feeding, kitchen setup and distribution strategies, noted Pat Melancon, BGR’s disaster management specialist. The team also received a briefing from an internationally recognized expert in radiation safety, in anticipation of heading into northeastern Japan, where an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant has complicated disaster relief efforts.
Apart from logistical problems like acquiring relief supplies in bulk quantities, the team also faces challenges of gaining access to the disaster zone, Melancon said. Government permits to access the area via main roads are hard to come by, and navigating back roads is complicated by fuel shortages.
Until access to the tsunami zone around the city of Sendai, where the nuclear crisis is most serious, is resolved, relief projects will focus on earthquake survivors outside the tsunami zone, Palmer said. “The area outside the tsunami zone that was devastated by the earthquake is large and the conditions there are very serious. We can do a lot to help people in desperate need because of the earthquake while we wait for the nuclear situation to be resolved.”
The initial relief strategy devised by the assessment teams has three prongs, according to Ben Wolf, who with his wife, Pam, directs BGR work in the Asia Rim.
“One element of the strategy is the training in mass feeding being conducted by the disaster relief specialists from Alabama and South Carolina,” Wolf said. “A second element is distribution of water, food staples, blankets, warm clothing for the elderly and kitchen utensils in an area 45 miles north of Sendai. The third element will be a similar distribution in Sendai that also will involve assessment of the needs in that area.”
The response teams in these efforts will be made up of personnel from Tokyo Baptist Church, the Japan Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network, Baptist Global Response and the International Mission Board, which partners with BGR in disaster relief situations, Wolf said.
Because Japan Baptists can mobilize significant numbers of volunteers for the relief effort, the primary need for U.S. volunteers will be limited to people with Japanese/English translation abilities and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network volunteers with specialized disaster relief training, Wolf explained.
Baptist Global Response has allocated $100,000 from Southern Baptist relief and hunger funds for the initial phase of the response, Wolf noted. To date, almost $200,000 has been donated to the relief effort through BGR and IMB.
While the Japanese government has a well-developed plan for disaster recovery, but Southern Baptists can make a tremendous contribution, Palmer said.
“The Japanese government has described this as the country’s greatest crisis since World War II. Estimates are that it will take five years and $309 billion to rebuild,” Palmer said. “But Japan’s people have experienced an awful trauma, and their needs in this time of crisis go far beyond physical things like roads and buildings and even food.
“With the tremendous partners God has given us to work with, Southern Baptists have a unique opportunity to both demonstrate and proclaim the love of God in a place where people have little opportunity to experience God’s love for themselves,” Palmer said. “It has been inspiring to see how Southern Baptists have sensed God’s leading to respond to a whole series of disasters this past year, from Haiti to Japan.
“We are delighted to be able to offer their partnership to Japanese Baptists as our brothers and sisters in that country reach out to their neighbors with the love of Christ.”
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Disaster Relief Update
Friday, March 18, 2011
"Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves. Each one of us must please his neighbor for his good, in order to build him up. For even the Messiah did not please Himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult You have fallen on Me. For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. Now may the God of endurance and encouragement
It has been one week since the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. These tragic events have been on the hearts and minds of all Americans. Many have watched countless hours of news coverage. Southern Baptists are committed to praying
The International Mission Board (IMB), Baptist Global Response (BGR) and the North American Mission Board (NAMB) have been engaged from the beginning in seeking ways to provide help, healing and hope to Japan. IMB missionaries and families are feeling the fatigue of trying to provide ministry to the people God has called them to serve. They have been both victims and responders. BGR had a two person initial response team on the ground to begin the assessment process within the first 24 hours. NAMB has been communicating with BGR and providing coordination with the state conventions in the disaster relief network.
As you can imagine, there are a multitude of obstacles to this complex response. Distance, the magnitude of the disaster, continuous aftershocks, winter weather, radiation leakage, and lack of necessary supplies like fuel make every response effort from the military to non-governmental agencies difficult. In light of these difficulties Southern Baptists are working hard to ensure our response is focused, well planned and decisive. The situation on the ground is fluid with frequent interruptions and changes.
Below are some excerpts from a report from the initial assessment team. These are their thoughts on the present situation and how Southern Baptists may be able to respond.
RadiationAlthough there is nothing we will be able to do to mitigate or fix this problem, there may be opportunities that arise to help people. Until there is improvement in the situation, this is not likely to be a viable response.
TsunamiThe tsunami area is off limits until the radiation issues begin to resolve and the government allows more access. Furthermore, attempts to do much there will be hampered by logistical problems associated with obtaining supplies and fuel. What exists will be in short supply as the population seeks to obtain and store these items and as relief organizations compete to obtain these items. Response to these areas will have to wait at least until the evacuation orders from the government are lifted.
Earthquake ZonesIn the short term it will be the areas not affected by the tsunami where the most viable opportunities to respond can be identified. However, some of the same logistical problems exist: lack of access to supplies and lack of fuel. There are openings for a response however. Some missionaries have already found places of ministry working alongside neighbors in mudding out around their homes. The needs here are great. Recovery will take years. A response here will require significant logistical planning to overcome the issues listed above.
An assessment and initial response team comprised of Pat Melancon and Ben Wolfe with BGR; John Hayes, Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief; and Eddie Pettit, South Carolina Baptist Disaster Relief, will arrive in Japan on Tuesday, March 22. They will continue to look for ministry opportunities and work to establish an Incident Command System that will allow SBDR to begin to respond with Baptists and other partners in the country.
The people of Japan have many needs today and many of these needs will continue for a long time. Southern Baptists are encouraged to continue to pray, and provide financial support that our IMB missionaries, Japanese Baptists, BGR and SBDR representatives can use to minister to the people of Japan. Pray for the assessment and initial response team as they make plans and preparations. Wait patiently and prayerfully for God's direction as He opens other avenues of ministry.
Carlton Walker, an International Mission Board missionary in Narashino City, Chiba, says that the people of Japan need a strong east wind to protect the population from harm. He also urges Christians to pray for the “wind” of the Holy Spirit to “blow with great power over this land and create a spiritual revival that will remake Japan from the inside out.” Read more in the Missionary Blog.
Read today's update from Baptist Global Response.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
They are working at the University Food Bank in the morning, and in the afternoons they spend their time visiting several neighborhoods in the Seattle area. A good deal of time has been spent serving at an Ethiopian church where they have been hanging fliers in Ethiopian restaurants, and talking to Ethiopians in the city.
Time has also been spent visiting nursing homes, painting, handing out coffee and cupcakes with Epic Life Church in Seattle, painting murals and posing to passer/byes, "What would you change about your community if you could?"
Please pray for Ryan, his family and for Harvest Community Church's college kids as they serve the Lord in an area of our country that is so apathetic to hearing the Gospel. May the Lord bless their time, and may the Lord allow them many opportunities to share about His amazing grace.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Each year, we honor the life and work of Annie Walker Armstrong (1850-1938) when we give to the annual offering for North American missions named after her. As a tireless servant of God and a contagious advocate and supporter of mission efforts throughout the world, Annie Armstrong led women to unite in mission endeavors that ultimately led to the formation of Woman's Missionary Union, for which she served as the first corresponding secretary.
Annie believed in Christ with all her heart, but it was her hands that expressed that belief in tangible ways. She spent a great amount of time typing and handwriting letters in support of missions. Many of these letters were quite
lengthy and all were filled with conviction that more could and should be done in our mission efforts. In 1893 alone, she wrote almost 18,000 letters! Annie also never hesitated to use her hands to reach out to hug a child or distribute food and clothing and the Word of God to those in need. Her hands held her own Bible as she studied to know how best to share Gods love with others. And, most important, Annie was a woman of prayer, folding her hands in prayer to intercede for the missionaries and for those they were helping discover Christ.
Annie rallied churches to give more, pray more, and do more for reaching people for Christ. As we
continue to unite to make her vision a reality in North America today, we can be confident that her legacy will also be ours.
Back-to-school shopping requires little more than a trip to the store for most American families. But even basic school supplies like pencils, notebooks and erasers are hard to come by - and nearly impossible to afford - for many families living in poverty around the world.
That's why Baptist Global Response is sponsoring the "Kits for Kids" campaign -- and why LifeWay Christian Resources is featuring Kits for Kids as its 2011 Vacation Bible School mission project. It's a unique opportunity to help equip a child with the tools they need to get an education. It's also a chance for families to teach their children what it means to love others by helping needy kids.
Kits for Kids is simple. Church groups and families across the United States assemble "kits" of basic school supplies and drop them in the mail. Then, using its global network of national partners, Baptist Global Response distributes the kits to families in dozens of countries around the globe.
Let's get started!
**Below are instructions on how to assemble your own kits, however Harvest will be providing the zip lock bags, and will be coordinating an event after VBS to assemble all of our kits together. The largest need at this time are the items that are included in the kits. However, if you want to assemble your own kits and bring them to them to Harvest, we would appreciate that as well.
1. Go shopping!Families, this part can be a lot of fun, especially for children. Be sure to give them plenty of opportunity to "help" pick out supplies. It's also a great chance to explain why it's important to help others. (Leaders: If you are planning to pack very many kits, please be sure to notify local retailers about your project. They may need to order more supplies and may even want to partner with you in the project!)
"Kits for Kids" shopping list:
- 5 Composition notebooks (non-spiral, hardback)
- 1 Ruler (with metrics)
- 1 Zippered pencil case
- 6 Blue ink pens
- 6 No. 2 pencils
- 2 Pencil sharpeners
- 2 or 3 Regular-sized glue sticks
- 2 Pink erasers
- 1 box of 12-count colored pencils
- 1 Pair of safety scissors
- Place all the items for each kit in a 2.5 gallon plastic slide-lock bag
- Include a kit label for each bag, either printed on paper and placed inside the bag or printed as a sticker and placed on the outside of the bag. (See resources: kit labels).
- Please do not include items in the kit that are not on the list; the contents need to be similar for each child who receives a kit
- Box your kits securely, with adequate padding, and ship to the address below
3. Ship your kit!
The deadline for shipping your kits is Oct. 31, 2011.
Harvest Community Church will be providing the shipping labels, and will ship all of the kits out together. . .no need to worry about shipping cost, however if you would like to donate anything to the cost of shipping, that would be very much appreciated.
For questions about this opportunity to give, please contact Jennifer Gaskill at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Melanie Wilson at email@example.com.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Founded by Rotarian Tom Henderson, a former Royal Navy search and rescue diver, ShelterBox started in 2000 as a project of the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard, Cornwall. ShelterBox is now the largest Rotary Club project in the world and has raised more than £25 million in donations. It has responded to over 80 major disasters in more than 50 countries including the Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.
Each ShelterBox contains a 10-person tent, blankets,
Each box costs $1000 – this includes all materials, packing, storage, transport worldwide and distribution to the final recipients. Assuming six month’s use, this equates to shelter and warmth for less than 27 pence per person per day. ShelterBox works closely with key suppliers to ensure all items are of a high quality and are purchased at the most competitive price.
The delivery of our aid is undertaken by a volunteer ShelterBox Response Team whose members have undergone an intensive training programme. ShelterBox prides itself on its speedy response to disasters and often works closely with Rotary clubs in recipient countries enabling it to get aid to where it is needed faster than many other charitable organisations.
For more information on this opportunity please contact Jennifer & Brandon Willis through Jennifer's Facebook page, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thank you so much for your desire to share the love of God with the Japanese people in their hour of desperation. Please be assured that BGR takes the stewardship of your donation very seriously and will make the most efficient and effective possible use of it.
Currently, BGR is focusing its response in areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake that are outside the tsunami impact zone. Until that area opens up to humanitarian organizations, we are concentrating on the critical needs of earthquake survivors in other areas.
As we engage this first phase of the relief effort, we have identified six ways you can help people in Japan, besides making a general donation. Please prayerfully consider the list below as you prepare to make your gift.
- Water $10 (one-week supply)
- Blanket $20
- Radiation meter for workers $35
- Hygiene supplies $40 (one-week supply)
- kitchen utensil kit $50
- Basic food items $70 (one-week supply)