TOHOKU, JAPAN (March 11, 2015) — Stephen Bay, Covenant missionary to Japan, says that many Japanese survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated this country feel that their government has turned its attention elsewhere, but they are thankful that organizations such as Covenant World Relief continue to minister to them.
“Many feel neglected as construction companies head to Tokyo to work on facilities for the 2020 Olympics, leading to delays in the rebuilding efforts here in Tohoku, leaving the residents to languish indefinitely,” Bay said. “They express gratitude to us for continuing to visit them four years after the disaster when much of the world has moved on and forgotten.”
The 9.1 magnitude earthquake was the fourth largest in recorded history, but it was the resulting tsunami that wiped out hundreds of miles of coastline, destroyed or damaged one million buildings, and accounted for 95 percent of the 19,000 deaths.
Dave Husby, director of CWR, said their ministry has changed in recent years. “While at the beginning most of the work was focused on providing material relief, now the emphasis is on spiritual and emotional care for the tens of thousands who remain in temporary housing.”
Covenant World Relief, which is a part of the Serve Globally mission priority, has been working with the Covenant Church of Japan and its network of partnering organizations to continue to provide for long-term recovery.
That ministry has included conducting after-school programs for children who still are dealing with the trauma, Husby said. “The work has led to an increased openness to the gospel.”
Following the disaster, Covenanters donated $400,000 through CWR, Husby said. The last of those funds were recently distributed.
Because much work remains, Husby said CWR is asking Covenanters to continue to contribute to the fund set up for the ongoing ministry. “Our commitment is to stand with the Covenant Church of Japan for the coming years as they serve faithfully in the recovery efforts.”
People can donate online or mail a designated gift to Covenant World Relief at 8303 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631.