Japan (MNN) — Thursday's quake raised alarm as the strongest
aftershock since the March 11 disaster struck.
Jeff Palmer of Baptist Global Response says to put the
distress into perspective, the quake on April 07 was of the same strength as
the one that leveled Haiti in January 2010.
However, "We assessed our folks very quickly to make
sure they were okay. We were anticipating a lot worse situation, but the news
coming out is very, very good."
While the physical damage wasn't made worse, the psychological
damage was a huge setback for the hundreds of thousands already displaced by
the original massive quake. The partners in the joint relief effort–which
includes the Tokyo Baptist Church, the Japan Baptist Convention, members of the
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Network and International Mission Board
personnel–were already in place dealing
with the logistics of feeding and housing thousands of survivors from the
They're also building the base for what's coming. Eventually, more in-depth counseling will be
necessary to stem the inevitable tide of post-traumatic stress disorder that
accompanies trauma like this.
"We do have a team
right now, on the ground, from the
U.S.–some specialists in trauma
counseling. They're working with our Japanese partners. They're doing a lot of
processing with them, but they're also doing training with them as they go out
into the areas to do the feeding, and the food distributions, and the clothing
The trauma counseling training was already underway. Right now, Palmer says, they have a group of
180 Japanese believers ready to start work. "We are equipping them with
culturally sensitive materials, and of course, biblically-based materials on
how they can minister to people who experienced a terrible disaster. The folks that are ministering have
gone through it, too."
The scope of the crisis and the overwhelming hurt means
burnout can happen quickly. Who helps
the trauma counselors? Palmer explains,
"We have some checkpoints in place. We monitor how our team is doing. We
provide good counseling, good debriefing, with all of our teams as we go along."
Restoring physical safety is a high priority, but so is
reuniting family and creating community wherever possible. "If we
can get these tools–like grief counseling, like mud-outing, debris cleanup,
how to feed large groups, mass feedings–we have this expertise and skills, and
we can put those into Japanese partners. It just multiplies the ability to
really meet people in their need."
Palmer says there's a lot riding on the shoulders of the
response teams. "Be praying for wisdom and knowledge as we train and equip
Japanese believers to really be the ones where the water hits the wheel out
there in ministering to people."
You can also support the effort. We have a link here.