March 16, 2011
Japan: Christian Group Putting Down Stakes in Earthquake Area
CRASH asks for funding as they prepare to fan out across the affected parts of the country.
The group Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH) is setting up a forward base in Sendai, Japan to coordinate efforts to relieve the damage and hardship that Friday's 8.9/9.0-magnitude earthquake left behind in a large swath of the island nation.
"We just confirmed that we have a location and trucks of goods will start moving there today," CRASH spokesman Paul Nethercott told CT a few hours ago. "We will set up five more bases as soon as possible. We are doing this so we can send thousands of volunteers out where they are needed most."
Nethercott said CRASH, who calls their relief initiative "Love on Japan," sees it as a chance to "fill gaps" that the Japanese government cannot address and to "share the love of God with the people in Japan."
Japan's church is very much a minority. Less than 0.2% of the population identifies as Christian, and while some Christian cultural artifacts like Christmas and Valentine's Day have made it into the larger population, much of Japan practices a mix of Buddhism and traditional Shinto beliefs and a large number profess no religion at all.
"The church is small here but it is full of courageous and committed people who are brave enough to take a stand for Christ in spite of pressure from family and friends not to," Nethercott told CT. "We are closely connected with a very large network of Christians in Japan."
CRASH has been part of Japan's Christian community for a while, having built strong relationships with the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association and the Japan Evangelical Association.
"Many of the people I am working with I have known for over ten years," Nethercott said. "Some a lot longer. We care about each other and we care about Japan."
One of CRASH's greatest needs, Nethercott said, is funding to "deliver water and other essentials ASAP." Many older people in the earthquake-damaged area will not be able to clean up their own homes, he said.
CRASH is accepting donations through crashjapan.com. Many other Christian groups are working to flood Japan with assistance and providing opportunities to help—among them Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, World Relief, Saddleback Peace Relief, Asian Access, and Redeemer City to City.
"Pray that God will bless the nation of Japan greatly as this great nation deals with a major crises," asked Nethercott.