Japan Update–United Project

1 Comment » Written on May 12th, 2011     
Filed under: Disaster Relief
The following blog is from Jim Peterson, a Covenant missionary serving in Japan.

On January 17th, 1995 an earthquake hit the city of Kobe in Western Japan with a force of 6.8 on the Richter scale. Wide spread damages resulted in 6,434 deaths and over 300,000 people left homeless. Volunteers poured in from all over Japan and the world including teams from the Japan Covenant Church (NSKK) led by Rev. Shinichi Miyamoto, who was pastoring the Grace Mission Church at the time.

On September 21st, 1999 another earthquake struck in central Taiwan, this one measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale and resulting in 2,415 deaths and the complete or partial destruction of more than 100,000 buildings. The NSKK reached out to the Taiwan Covenant Church, sending volunteers and making a sizable donation toward the relief efforts.

On October 23rd, 2004 an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the Chuetsu region of Japan in Niigata Prefecture. Fatalities number 39, while over 3,000 injuries were reported and more than 100,000 people were displaced. The NSKK church in Nagaoka city was heavily damaged and required extensive repairs and renovations to make it usable again. They received generous gifts and help from many churches throughout Japan, from the Taiwan Covenant Church and from the ECC.

What we now realize is that God was working in and through each of those catastrophes to prepare us for the present situation. On March 11, 2011 an enormous earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale struck just off the Pacific Coast of northern Japan and while damages from the earthquake itself were limited, it spawned a series of giant tsunamis that left a scar of destruction and death along several hundred miles of coastline. Every city, town, village and hamlet on the coast experienced almost unspeakable devastation. Geological records indicate that tsunamis of similar force struck this area of Japan about 1,000 years ago, but there is nothing in recorded history on this scale. In some places the tsunamis reached heights of 38 meters! The final death toll will not be known for a long time but it will likely be close to 30,000. Over 300,000 people have lost their homes.

Paula Chen is a missionary sent by the Taiwan Covenant Church to serve in Japan with the NSKK. She first came to Japan as student and was active in the Grace Mission Church mentioned earlier. After completing seminary in Taiwan she returned to Japan and is currently working with the International Bible Fellowship (IBF), another Covenant church. Following the earthquake on March 11 Paula immediate began to mobilize for action. She had some previous contact with a Baptist church in Iwate Prefecture, one of the hardest hit, and so she contacted Pastor Makoto Hiyoshi of the Nagaoka Covenant Church, also mentioned above, and together they started to prepare for relief work. Paula’s pastor from Taiwan, Rev. Vernon Wu was soon on a plane and accompanied Paula on her first trip into the affected region with several other members of the IBF church. The result was the formation of a coordinated relief effort called “United Project”. The name was chosen because it brings together people from the NSKK and the Taiwan Covenant Church for the purpose of joining hands with a network of local churches in the affected region to be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ to those in need.

The NSKK took quick action to officially adopt United Project as a ministry of the denomination and has made a commitment to finance the cost of sending volunteer teams in and maintaining some long term staff in the area. The United Project is working in close cooperation with the 3.11 Iwate Church Network, a recently formed interdenominational network of local churches in Iwate Prefecture. United Project is one of several Christian organizations sending volunteer teams, supplies and financial aid to some of the hardest hit areas along the Sanriku Coast in Iwate Prefecture. To date at least 7 teams have been sent through United Project and the goal is to continue sending teams on a weekly basis for as long as they are needed.

The NSKK is able to offer this kind of support for relief ministries because of generous gifts from local NSKK churches and especially from CWR. Even conservative estimates suggest that the need for volunteers and other forms of aid will continue for months and possibly years. Please prayerfully consider supporting these ministries of love and compassion by making a gift to Covenant World Relief.

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One Response to “Japan Update–United Project”

Blessings on these churches as they cooperate in ministering to those who have lost homes, jobs and family members. May God’s Kingdom be strengthened and glorified by their work and witness.

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