Japanese MBs request prayer

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Response to focus on relationships rather than emergency relief

MWC and ICOMB press releases

Mennonite and Anabaptist-related organizations continue to call for prayer for Japan following the March earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency in northeast Japan.

Hisashi Hattori, International Community Of Mennonite Brethren representative for the Japan MB Conference says in an email, “Pray for churches in the disaster hit area, so that they may be able to help each other as well as people around them. Please ask our ICOMB family to pray for Japan.”

Japan is home to five Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren and Brethren in Christ groups. They count a total baptized membership of about 3,000 in 70 congregations.

An intercontinental teleconference March 16 brought together officials from Mennonite World Conference, a global fellowship of Anabaptist-related churches, Mennonite Central Committee, the Mennonite peace, relief and service agency, and representatives from Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren and Brethren in Christ churches and agencies.

The groups are coordinating efforts to walk and work alongside Japanese Anabaptists in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami devastating the northeast of Japan. Their first priority is prayer. A brief worship resource for churches, including a map that locates Anabaptist churches in Japan, is available on the Mennonite World Cconference website (www.mwc-cmm.org).

Response from both MWC and service agencies is likely to focus on long-term efforts and relationships rather than emergency relief. Food and water, urgent needs, can be procured locally. Distribution is the major challenge. MWC Deacons Commission leadership will consult with Japanese leaders in considering a solidarity visit, possibly in May or June.

Teleconference participants were grateful for a March 16th early morning message from Nobuyasu Kirai, Japan Mennonite Christian Church Conference (Hokkaido) chair, and Takanori Sasaki, chair of the Japan Mennonite Fellowship composed of several Anabaptist-related churches. The group agreed that careful consultation with these and other leaders in Japan is highest priority as the global church community seeks to identify ways towalk and work with the Japanese churches as they address the needs of the Japanese people. 

A working group led by Deacons Commission chair, Cynthia Peacock (Kolkata, India) and secretary, Bert Lobe (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada) and including representatives from churches and service agencies in the MWC community will take further steps and provide updates as plans develop.  

Although none of the 29 Mennonite Brethren churches and six MB Mission workers was in the tsunami/earthquake zone, all were affected by the March 11 disaster. Many have relatives in the disaster zone; everyone feels the weight of their nation's physical, emotional and spiritual need.

Information about donations for Japan can be found on the Web sites of MCC and MB Mission, www.mbmission.org. The ICOMB Web site offers updates in the news section.

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