People struggle with cold, lack of services in Japan
Tuesday, March 22, 201123 March 2011
The Japanese people battle the elements as cold weather persists and Japan’s natural gas companies suspend service to most of the northeastern part of the country.
Japanese use natural gas for cooking mainly, said Asia-Pacific Region missionary Tomo Hirahara, whose Nazarene home church is in Oyama City.
But power companies also struggle to maintain service in several cities as aftershocks continue and the country tries to thwart further disaster with its nuclear and conventional power plants following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami March 11.
“They still experience aftershocks and scheduled cutting off electricity at daytime, thus, cannot use the heater,” Hirahara said.
The pastor of Sendai Tomizawa Nazarene church, Shouei Abe, said they have electricity and water, but gas was cut off due to destroyed underground lines. Gas service is cut off for many sections of northeast Japan until the end of May.
Abe opened the church as a shelter for victims of the disaster. The church has structural damage - cracks in the foundation and walls, and cracked windows - but is one of the few inhabitable buildings with utilities.
Most Japanese struggle to prepare meals, Hirahara said, and the cold has made the situation worse as rescue workers continue to search for more survivors and residents sift through what is left of their homes. More than 30,000 people have been rescued since the disaster.
The number of deaths reported in a total of 12 prefectures stood at 8,805, while the number of people reported missing by their relatives climbed to 12,654 in six prefectures, the National Police Agency said Monday.
Tomo, and his wife, Ceny Hirahara, are in Thailand. A free phone service was established between Thailand and Japan, and Tomo was able to reach their families and pastors in Oyama City.
The Oyama Nazarene church is intact and sustained minor damage as did the Meguro church - cracks on walls and glass damage. Basic necessities are the most urgent need for a majority of people in that region.
Leaders with Japan District Church of the Nazarene, Japan Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, and the Asia-Pacific Region talked Monday about the current status of the churches, critical needs, and possible relief efforts.
Given the situation, the church will focus on a long-term mission, working with lost and forgotten people, the leaders said. The district will use the Sendai Tomizawa church as a base camp. Japan Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and the district will leave the current rescue efforts to professionals, police, military, and firefighters, the leaders said.
Volunteers cannot enter the affected area without great risk due to road and railway damage, a shortage of gasoline, the demand on health services, the lack of stable utilities, and the nuclear power plant situation. Leaders also discussed the establishment of a second water sterilization station in the area, but a location for the facility is unavailable presently.
The Japan Nazarene district board discussed funding and will send a survey team to Sendai to help establish a church activity plan.
As that plan unfolds, Japan NCM and the district will have a better understanding of its available resources and what resources they need, the leaders said.
The most immediate need remains prayer - prayer for Nazarenes in Japan, the nation, people who lost loved ones, people still missing, and the people involved in the recovery efforts. Another need is funding for the long-term recovery plan.
One positive item to come out of the Monday Skype meeting was Japanese church leaders said there is a notable change in the people and what is on TV now, reported Verne Ward, Asia-Pacific regional director.
“Before it was how to get wealth, get things for yourself, stories of suicide, and murder,” Ward wrote. “Now it is stories of people helping other people - coming together and helping each other.”
-This article appears courtesy of NCN News