Japan pushed to the limit with triple threat

By March 17, 2011

Japan (MNN) — Two strong tremors shook Japan Wednesday.
These join the dozens of  aftershocks
that continue to unsettle the displaced after Friday's quake and tsunami.

However, the nuclear crisis is what really has the
government worried. The radiation from
damaged nuclear reactors in the Fukushima complex complicates Southern Baptist
disaster relief efforts in Japan, according to one member of the assessment
team. Jeff Palmer, Executive
Director for Baptist Global Response, says, "We've looked at plans for helping in the earthquake
areas. The tsunami areas are fairly well closed to private volunteer
organizations. The Japanese government
is handling that, and on top of that, those are in the radiation areas.

The scope of the damage is in the billions. A wide swath of the country lies in
ruins. Within the government
restrictions, Palmer explains that "a lot of us are focusing our response on
those peripheral earthquake-affected areas which are requiring food, shelter,
and help for folks who are being evacuated or have left the area." 

Events are unfolding on a minute-by-minute basis, which
means planning needs to stay fluid. The
Japan disaster relief situation is unlike any other in recent history, noted
Pat Melancon, BGR's disaster management specialist. Palmer says, "We're all scrambling to come
up with an effective plan for the immediate, because it is basically
chaos–everything we're getting from our Japanese partners, everything from our assessment team right now. But
that's the nature of a huge disaster like this."

Palmer goes on explain, "You'll have the disaster event, and
then you have the responders. You go in and basically rescue, help. Then you'll move
on to a recovery/rehabilitation phase which means getting them stabilized, getting them back. And then we'll start development." 

With three disasters converging in one country, each
response plan has a direct impact on the other plans. Palmer says eventually, everything will be
addressed. Even with the crisis so
fresh, BGR is keeping an eye cast to the future. "This is a long term response. We're just
starting to see a semblance of normalcy after over a year in Haiti of getting
things back, getting homes, and getting people back to life. Japan is going to be this bad, or worse."

BGR is working primarily through Japanese Christian partners. They are providing the resources those
partners need to effectively execute  the
relief strategy. For the survivors, spiritual moorings have been shaken. Palmer
notes that "as our folks go in, they will be sharing their lives, one-on-one,
helping people and also giving their story on how God has made a difference in their lives, because in
anything like this, people lose hope. People lose that focus, and we have a
great message of hope that is found in the Gospel."

Although there are limitations to where they can help, he
says, "We will respond and help people
where they are hurting. At the same time, we will also offer them a hope that
is found in eternal hope, a hope that is here and now as well as later and
beyond, a hope that is found in Jesus Christ." 

There are many ways to help. Usually it's: Pray, Give, or Go. Palmer says right now, it's more effective to say, "Pray, Give, and Wait,
because of this complex humanitarian event with the tertiary

Palmer ends with this request: "Pray
for Japan as a nation. Pray for the victims, the survivors, the emotional
healing that needs to take place. Pray for the responders that are able to be
there–the Japanese government. Pray for the country, that the comfort of Jesus
and the hope of the Gospel could come forth into their lives."

Give. We've got a
link here. 

Wait…on the Lord. Doors will open in the near future. Palmer says, "We need to let our experts,
trained people, and Japanese partners lead us in our efforts."

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