Taken from a chat conversation with Dr. Makoto "Mark" Sakamoto, President of Japan Nazarene Theological Seminary 

As the number of people reported dead or missing as a result of last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami tops the 12,000 mark, Japanese Nazarenes are ministering to those who are hurting in their communities.   

Dr. Makoto "Mark" Sakamoto, president of Japan Nazarene Theological Seminary, wrote on Wednesday, March 16:  "In my area, there is shortage of everything.  We are short of milk and some foods and batteries.  Because we sometimes have no electricity , people are trying to save things as much as they can.  … But rather than hoarding, we need to behave rightly as a Christian to deliver what we have and share thing mutually."

And that is exactly what Rev. Shoei Abe of the Sendai Church of the Nazarene is doing.  Because of the failure of the nuclear plant situation, the power supply in some areas has been cut off or reduced.   But the Sendai Church  now has electricity and internet so is being used for relief work..  Pastor Abe has opened up the church to the community so those without water can come and bathe.  

Dr. Sakamoto writes:  "Our Japan NCM team is considering what we can do.  There are some Christian groups that are working in the Sendai Area, Our NCM board members will meet next Monday to discuss the next step.  Our desire is to create base camps where we can help people."  

Although none of our Nazarene churches were destroyed according to reports received thus far, the damage is clearly evident.  There are significant cracks in the walls and the foundation of the Sundai Church that will need to be repaired. The Oyama church, pastored by District Superintendent Dr. Manabu Ishida, suffered damage as did the seminary and district headquarters building.  And there are many pastors and church members whose homes were damaged.  

But the deeper loss is reflected in the rising number of those confirmed dead or reported missing.   Dr. Sakamoto reports that some relatives of Nazarene church members are still missing.  One Nazarene pastor has not been able to locate his relatives in the Miyagi area.  A professor at the Nazarene seminary has a brother in Ibaragi Prefecture who is still on the Missing List.   Other Nazarenes have relatives and friends who are among the dead or missing.   Prayer is requested for those who are still searching for loved ones.  

For those living in some parts of Japan, the earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leaks – although frightening – have been only an inconvenience.  But for countless others, the triple disasters have changed their lives forever in a dramatic and forceful way.  Although they represent only 2% of the population, pray that Christians in Japan will be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus as they reach out to those who have suffered such great loss.   

Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Dr. Verne Ward, wrote "We are receiving many expressions every day expressing love and prayer for those affected by this disaster. It is beautiful to see the people of Japan brought before the Lord in passionate prayer. What might God do through His people with this outpouring of prayer?"

Persons and churches wishing to make a donation for Tsunami/Earthquake Relief 2011 can do so online through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries at ncm.org. Checks can be marked "ACM1762" and mailed to Global Treasury Services, PO Box 843116 Kansas City, MO 64184. In Canada, checks should be made payable and sent to the Church of the Nazarene Canada, 20 Regan Road, Unit 9, Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3.

– NCN News, Asia-Pacific Region