Just before 2:45pm local time in Japan (early morning in the US) one of the largest earthquake ever to hit Japan, with a magnitude of 8.9, struck around the town of Sendai causing massive damage and creating a tsunami with waves up to 30 feet. As of this morning the situation is being assessed by ELCA with its companion on the ground, the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church (JELC). In looking at the situation Pastor Eric Anspach-Hansen of Tokyo Lutheran stated, “Hopefully our church [the ELCA] will be able to get involved in the relief work in the coming months.” Through its predecessor bodies the ELCA has had a relationship extending back to 1892 with the local Lutheran community in Japan. As more is learned about the impact of this disaster, we will continue to build on this long-standing relationship.

As of date it has been learned that the 22 ELCA Missionaries (and 3 dependents), sent by ELCA Global Mission, working in the area are all safe and accounted for. We are still awaiting reports on how the local JELC churches have been affected, particularly in and around the area of Sendai. As the news was reported at a Lutheran World Federation leadership conference in Malaysia, attended by leadership of the JELC and ELCA, a representative from the Australian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has recently been dealing with massive flooding and an earthquake in New Zealand, stated that of all the outpouring of help from the international community “prayer was the most important gift.” This sentiment was echoed by ELCA Missionary in Japan, Ally Streed, “Please keep the people of Japan (and just Japan in general) in your thoughts and prayers. This is the biggest earthquake they’ve seen since the Kobe earthquake of 1995.”

As we await more information and determine how best to respond please share the gift of prayer, for those who have lost their lives, those that deal with the devastation left behind and those who come to their aid. May God grant strength and peace where they can be found.

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