日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters Opens — Supported by prayer and hoping to give personal support


On July 22, 2011, the Kyodan opened the Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters in Room 11 on the first floor of the Japan Christian Center to restore damaged churches as well as to develop the Overseas Donation Project, aimed at humanitarian support.


A variety of projects are in progress, including the Tohoku District Center for the Support of Victims in Sendai (Emao Ishinomaki, which started in August and is referred to as “Emao,” based on the biblical place name “Emmaus”), and other supportive activities for the rebuilding of lives. Likewise, there is the Center for the Prevention of Suicide, which offers grief-care in Tono, the Installing Air-conditioners Project to protect the lives of children who are exposed to radiation, the Short-term Reprieve Program, and the scholarship project for Christian schools. The Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters also offers support for the Aizu Radiation Information Center, for the provision of emergency food, for other church-related grassroots activities, for ecumenical collaboration, and for various other Christian institutions.


Planning and clerical work can be done even in Tokyo, but in order to connect the victims with those who support them, staff members need to be on-site and involved in the actual relief projects. We avoid using the word “inspect” and instead go to “work” together with volunteers and the local staff as much as possible. “Inspectors” are only permitted to view the stricken scenes, but “workers” in the area can meet with the people who are actually suffering. The victims have said, “We will not be deceived by tears, but we do believe in sweat.” Taking their words to heart, we are running to and fro in Tohoku with the motto, “Work anytime, whenever we have a chance!”


Regarding support activities in the disaster zone, the problems in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima are quite different from each other. The issues that confront the Center for Preventing Suicide being developed in Iwate around “issues individuals cannot face alone,” including loneliness and isolation in temporary housing, are becoming increasingly serious. What is needed now, before winter sets in, is to take time to build up reliable human relationships.


Also, concerning the issue of exposure to radiation, long-term solutions are being implemented, such as the Installing Air-conditioners Project, which took shape through the enthusiasm of the members of the Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters to “protect the lives of children,” and the Short-term Reprieve Program, which was born from the proposition: “Let’s start a concrete program to get children away from radiation exposure.” Likewise, in order to be better supporters of the Aizu Radiation Information Center, we have visited the center many times and listened to the opinions of the staff there, paying careful attention to each of their activities.


Three people work in this office: Kato Makoto, the Kyodan executive secretary in charge of disaster relief (and of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries), as well as Shiratori Masaki and Maekita Mio [the writer], both of whom have worked through Emao as volunteers, cleaning up debris and mud. We opened this room in July but have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster and the scale of the cleanup operations. Nevertheless, we continue to seek God’s leading as we endeavor to make a difference, and we give thanks to everyone who has supported us with their prayers as they sent us into the disaster zone.


It has been over eight months since the disaster, and no doubt people in areas unaffected by the quake have settled back into a normal routine. However, those in the disaster zone call out to us saying, “Please do not forget us. There is still such a long way to go.” So we ask people everywhere to please continue their support. (Tr. AY)


—Maekita Mio, staff member

Disaster Relief Planning Headquaters

From Nov. 26, 2011 issue of

Kyodan Shinpo (Kyodan Times)








進行中のプロジェクトは仙台の「東北教区 被災者支援センター(通 称:エマオ)」、8月より始動した「エマオ石巻」をはじめとする生活復興支援、遠野にある「自殺防止センター」のグリーフ・ケア、放射能の影響下にある子どもたちの命を守るプロジェクト「エアコン設置プロジェクト」「短期保養プログラム」、またキリスト教系学校の奨学金プロジェクト、会津放射能情報センターや炊き出し支援などの教会を中心とした市民活動への支援や超教派との支援コラボレーション企画、キリスト教関係諸施設への支援など多岐にわたります。







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