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Lutheran Disaster Response

Japan: JELC Presidents Shares Thanks for the Prayers and Support

In a news release from the ELCA, the president of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church (JELC), Rev. Sumiyuki Watanabe, shared thanks for the ELCA, Lutherans worldwide, their prayers and support in this time of need in Japan. Speaking from the Lutheran World Federation-sponsored meeting he was attending in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, he stated, “Those in attendance at this meeting have remembered us in their prayers, and I feel great joy for the Lutheran family. Please continue to remember and pray for us.”

As reports have come in over the weekend it has been learned through the Rev. Hiroaki Fujii, pastor of Sendai Lutheran Church, that his family and all of the children of the congregation’s preschool program are safe, though some of the teachers have not been heard from. Sendai, a city of more than 1 million people was near the epicenter of the earthquake and was one of the hardest hit regions by the tsunami. Contact in the region has been spotty as cell phones continue not to work and gasoline has been scare. The greatest need expressed was for food and water.

To learn more read the full ELCA News Release.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

The Ripple Effect of Japan’s Earthquake

Our thoughts and prayers remain with Japan’s communities impacted by today’s earthquake, one of the largest in history.  As we continue to monitor the situation, the ELCA has been in contact with companions throughout the region threatened by the earthquake’s ripple effect sending tsunami waves throughout the Pacific region.

Reports from ELCA Global Mission personnel located in Latin America state that precautionary measures were taken to evacuate most coastal communities.  Anxiety in the region decreased after initial reports from Hawaii indicated the impact would be less than originally anticipated.

Chile continues to wait for the last tail end of the tsunami to come to shore sometime late tonight.  According to ELCA companion EPES in Chile, since early this morning families were informed about the situation in Japan.  In coastal areas, schools were suspended so that families could take precautionary measures.  In Penco, families of two camps that EPES continues to work with after the devastating 2010 earthquake have moved to elevated areas or are awaiting further instruction from government authorities.  Local news services report some 80,000 to 130,000 Chileans are part of the country’s evacuation measures.

The video below from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) illustrates the earthquake’s ripple effect through the Pacific region.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.

Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami Ravage Country, ELCA Missionaries Okay

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.

Gifts to ELCA International Disaster Response allow the church to respond globally in times of need. Donate now.