By Emi Beland, Japan Bible Society
It is now more than five months since Japan was hit by a devastating combination of earthquake and tsunami. Yet life has by no means returned to normal. Aftershocks still continue and over 4,000 people are still missing. The Japan Bible Society continues to be very active in providing practical and spiritual support to people facing the challenges of post-disaster reality.
The construction of temporary houses is proceeding only slowly and over 82,000 people are still living in evacuation camps. Poor hygiene, lack of privacy and lack of air-conditioning in such camps in the unbearable summer heat and humidity are pushing to the limit even those who, as a nation, are known for their patience and discipline.
Recently, the crisis at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima has received more media coverage than the situation in the affected areas. Residents within a 30 km radius have been forced to evacuate. Radiation exposure tests on children in Fukushima prefecture have found that more than half have been exposed to above-average levels. Many farmers have had to kill their cattle and dispose of their crops for fear of radiation contamination. There are serious economic implications, not to mention the anger and stress of those affected.
Bibles well received
The Bible Society has been directly involved in the relief effort. So far, it has made five visits to Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures. It has been in contact with most of the churches in each area and has visited over 50 churches, schools, kindergartens and support centres. Each time, the Society’s representatives have taken Bibles and relief supplies, and by the beginning of August it had distributed 5,500 Bibles. Manga and picture book Bibles for children have been especially well received: there are many children who lost family members and are experiencing tremendous fear.
Next month, the Society is holding a charity concert in Fukushima in support of those affected. It will invite 200 people to hear Tomoe Sawa, a well-known Christian singer, perform. Everyone who attends will receive an illustrated Bible as a gift.
The recovery effort still continues and, because of the long process, many people are suffering from physical and mental stress. Even the volunteers are reporting fatigue and psychological burn-out. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.