Pastoral Letter on Japan Earthquake/Tsunami
Dear Friends in Christ Jesus:
Hour by hour our sense of horror grows as we her more about the widespread devastation caused by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake which triggered a tsunami in Japan March 11.
It is at these times, that folks begin to ask the questions that center around God’s will and why does God allow such tragedies to occur. In a newly-released book, Why? – Making Sense of God’s Will,
Dr. Adam Hamilton writes, “When God wants to bring hope and help to others, God sends people. To the degree that there is suffering in our world, it is because God’s people have yet to hear or answer God’s call to go and to be God’s hands and voice to help children in need. Rather than being disappointed with God for the natural disasters and widespread poverty that affects so many in our word, I see them as a call to action. The question is, will God’s people heed the call?” Your past action makes me confident that you will respond out of lives saturated with the love of Jesus Christ.
United Methodists, through the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the General Board of Global Ministries, continue to respond to God’s call. Within hours after the earthquake hit, UMCOR officials were already working with their partners to assess damage. Almost of all of the agency’s work in Japan is in collaboration with ecumenical partners, including the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ), the Korean Christian Church in Japan, and the National Christian Council. The UCCJ has set up a Relief Committee whose representatives are already in the most affected area of the north.
We have set up a new Pacific Emergency Advance as the United Methodist channel for financial response. The number is 3021317. I would urge you to give generously.
At the present, GBGM is able to report that the new Wesley Center in Tokyo, related to United Methodist Women, was not damaged and is able to care for a group of now homeless people. The Asian Rural Institute, a major mission partner north of Tokyo, sustained considerable damage. Global Ministries uses the institution for the training of persons from Asia and Africa in sustainable agriculture.
UMCOR’s work in disaster relief is unparalleled to any other agency in that 100 percent of contributions go to provide disaster relief. The reason we are able to do this is because the administrative overhead for UMCOR is financed through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering
which will be taken April 3. While other groups have to take 8 to 10 cents on the dollar to pay for administration, United Methodists are able to stretch those relief dollars to assist those in need.
Thank you for hearing God’s call by assisting in both the Pacific Emergency Relief Fund as well as contributing to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Your servant for the sake of the Gospel,
Gregory V. Palmer,