|Hope in a Package: Volunteers Are Making an Impact in Japan|
The following is an excerpt from our 1-Year Anniversary Donor Report:
As we approach springtime in Japan, the return of warm weather and the beautiful cherry blossoms, CRASH Japan is once again entering another distinct phase of the Tohoku disaster relief response. Six months ago, the situation was very different. We had made it through the initial crisis, but beyond this, there were still many challenges and concerns facing survivors. The fall and winter months saw a decrease in receiving volunteers. Relocating evacuees from evacuation shelters to temporary housing generated additional needs. Isolation and depression were now the biggest threat to survivors' lives. In order to mitigate the greater potential of people committing suicide, our focus shifted from delivering supplies to bringing hope.
That was then, but today the scene looks much brighter. With the help of volunteers from all over the world and an increasing number of Japanese volunteering multiple times, we have been able to keep a continual presence of Christian workers throughout the disaster area. Survivors who struggle with thoughts of suicide testify that the continuous stream of volunteers has given them hope to live from week to week. Surprisingly, a Japanese government report revealed that the suicide rate in 2011 did not increase as feared, but actually decreased — the lowest in 14 years. I can only imagine how different the suicide statistics would be without the presence of Christian volunteers in the Tohoku region.
As a pastor I have occasionally sat with people who were contemplating suicide. There was little I could do to provide answers to their overwhelming needs. I could not pay their bills, bring back their loved one nor undo the consequences of their mistakes. All I could really do was be there for them. In much the same way that is what we have been doing on a massive scale with every disaster-hit community along the coast of Japan. We have brought in supplies and helped clear debris... but mostly we have simply been there.
Hope is a unique commodity, a very different kind of relief supply. We cannot put it in a box and load it in a truck. Hope comes in a different package; a heart possessing eternal hope. Each Christian volunteer who has served and will serve in Tohoku is THE PACKAGE. Not only have volunteers provided physical work and delivered supplies but also brought hope, introducing Japan to the real source of never ending hope, Jesus Christ!
CRASH Japan could not mobilize volunteers and touch the lives of survivors without support from around the world. As we move into the second year and most of the world has long ago turned its attention elsewhere, we want you to know that we are still here, still mobilizing volunteers, and we still need your support! Opportunities to touch lives abound. We hope you will be blessed to see how God has been moving in Tohoku this past year!
Click here to read CRASH Japan's one year anniversary donor report.
Click here to view a video version of our "donor report".