Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160      

July 7, 2011

For Immediate Release

The crisis in Japan and the pain of God

Kuala Lumpur (BWA)--There is great need for post-traumatic care in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that affected northeast Japan on March 11 of this year.


Hanae Igata, pastor of Nankodai Christ Church and a board member of the Japan Baptist Convention (JBC) said "what is required of religious leaders now is to share the sadness of the surviving family members through their bereavement, and to walk by their side as they accept that the dead are gone, in order for survivors to live the lives that they have been given."


Igata was addressing a forum at the Annual Gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, titled, "The Crisis in Japan and the Pain of God." The Baptist pastor stated that persons feel as if they are being torn apart. "The dead and the survivors are torn apart," she said. "Victims of the earthquake, victims of the tsunami, and those multiple-stricken as a result of the nuclear power plant disaster."


Hamano Michio, chair of the Research and Training Institute for Mission of the JBC, said "the Japan Baptist Convention has been supporting the stricken areas [using] the motto 'working toward reconciliation'.... We are trying to bridge the gaps between God and mankind, among mankind, and between God, mankind and all creation, and to reconcile them to each other."  The aim, Michio said, is "to help people to have trust in God again in the face of the question, 'Why does God allow all of this suffering to befall us?' 


"We must also reconnect people and have them reconcile to one another.  We must work on establishing relationships [with] God.  We continue our efforts to support the creation of a world in which people in stricken areas and those in unaffected areas can live together," Michio said.


Makoto Kato, executive secretary of JBC, provided details on the earthquake, the tsunami, and the subsequent nuclear crisis. He reported that persons in the affected areas "are gradually moving from shelters into temporary housing." But fishing and farming areas are still affected, including the Tōhoku Region, which produces 30 percent of the nation's rice. Much damage was inflicted along the east coast of this region because of the earthquake.


Kato said that while no Baptist life was lost in the earthquake and tsunami, some JBC and Japan Baptist Union buildings were badly damaged. Churches in the disaster zones served as shelters and Baptists mobilized relief supplies, such as gasoline, kerosene, blankets, winter clothes, heaters, rice, and vegetables. "Now that electricity, gas, and water are slowly recovering, we distribute hot meals to people in the shelters." Baptists are also engaged in clean up operations and repairs.


"We would like to thank all of our brothers and sisters around the world, especially those from BWAid (Baptist World Aid) for your prayers and offerings as you remember the people affected by the great disaster," Kato told the forum. "I pray that Jesus Christ, the Lord of reconciliation will bind us together ...and that we will work together as brothers and sisters for the kingdom of God and His righteousness. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you again, my Baptist brothers and sisters, for your prayers and support."


More than 300 Baptist leaders and delegates are gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from July 4-9 for the BWA Annual Gathering. It involves yearly meetings of a number of BWA groups, including the General Council and the Executive Committee; executive sub-committees and divisional advisory committees; women's, men's, and youth departments; regional groupings; and commissions of the divisions of Freedom & Justice, and Mission, Evangelism & Theological Reflection, and others.