Japan struggles to combat radiation threat and grim living conditions

By March 31, 2011

Japan (MNN) — Highly-toxic
plutonium is seeping from the damaged nuclear power plant in Japan's tsunami
disaster zone into the soil outside.

Radiation levels in the sea near
quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant are 3,000 times above legal limits. The new numbers suggest that radioactive
water continues to leak from the plant, threatening coastal livelihoods. Radioactive materials have also been found in
locally-grown vegetables.

Even as more bad news emerges, it doesn't change the
struggle to survive the next 24 hours for the hundreds of thousands of people who
remain homeless. Government
reports say there are 27,600 who are dead or missing. Damage could reach $310 billion, making the quake, tsunami, and radiation
crisis the most expensive natural disaster on record.

Pioneers has three teams on the
ground evaluating where their relief response will be most effective. Spokesman Matt Green says, "They're still in the process of really
assessing how they can serve the nationals and what impact the radiation and
contamination will have on their continued ministry in the affected area."

The Red Cross says the number of Japanese people in shelters
has dropped from nearly half a million to 244,000, and more supplies are
reaching the areas that need help the most. The top priorities are still getting
fuel, housing, clothing and medicine to the survivors. Almost one million people still do not have
running water.

Pioneers ministry leadership at the
Orlando, FL, base stands ready to support the efforts of those teams in any way
needed. Green explains that "their
hope is to connect with national believers and do what they can to alleviate
the suffering, and also resource the nationals to really love their fellow

Green goes on to add, "Our teams
there are building relationships, coming alongside the Japanese Evangelical
Church, serving them and helping them learn to reach their own people."

Operation World reports that only
1.5 percent of Japan's 126 million people are believers. And based on
statistics from the Joshua Project, the Japanese are the second-largest
unreached people group in the world.

Although Pioneers church planting teams
were in areas physically unaffected by the earthquake, they want to bring hope
to those who are suffering. At the
same time, Green says, "Our hope would be that God would use this to mobilize more
people to go and serve in Japan. We've seen this happen in other parts of the world
where disaster has hit."

Mobilizing more people to help is
not a priority until the government gets the crises under control. However, that idea goes farther when applied to
ministry in the future. In fact, Green
says, this may have been a wake-up call from God. "One
of the Japanese pastors said to the team yesterday, 'We have, up to now, been
mostly concerned with increasing our numbers rather than faithfully
proclaiming the Gospel and demonstrating the love of Christ.'"

Please join Pioneers in prayer for
the people of Japan, asking that God would spare the lives of those still in
danger, and that their team would be His agents of love and mercy. "Pray for the softening of hearts of the Japanese
people. They've been resistant to the Gospel for many years. God is the only one who can open their hearts."


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