BIC in Japan safe, prayers and support are needed

—Initial reports from Brethren in Christ members in Japan indicate that no Brethren in Christ churches or individuals have been significantly affected by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake or subsequent tsunami that struck northern Japan last Friday.

Members of the Yayoidai BIC Church in Tokyo. Situated about 200 miles southwest of the epicenter of the March 11th earthquake, the congregation felt the tremors but has not been severely affected.Seven congregations and 200 people constitute the BIC Conference in Japan. The Yayoidai BIC Church—located in Kodaira, a city in the suburbs of western Tokyo—lies closest to the center of the crisis and reported that although its people experienced the earthquake, the area has been spared from any major damage. The six other churches—located in the city of Nagoya and in the Yamaguchi Prefecture—are situated a distance away from the epicenter of the quake and tsunami.

While BIC people have remained safe, they are coming face-to-face with the tragedy as it affects their neighbors to the north.

Nobuo Hirokawa, a member of Shin-Shimonoseki BIC in Japan, reports that the death toll is rising, and people are bracing themselves for aftershocks from the quake: “So far, we know from the media that thousands of people are considered dead and that number is going to be increased. People are worried about aftershocks. Thank you for your care to the churches in Japan.”

In a communiqué with Dr. Tojo Takanobu, pastor of Yayoidai BIC, Ken Hoke, executive director of the International Brethren in Christ Association, related these sentiments: “The Brethren in Christ Churches around the world stand with you in this very difficult time. I pray the strength of the Lord for you in these days. As you have opportunity, please let us know what the status of your situation is and of ways that we may support you in prayer during this time.”

Brethren in Christ in North America are encouraged to offer prayers on behalf of BIC brothers and sisters in Japan as they cope with the aftermath of last week’s disasters.

Accepting donations
The BIC World Hunger Funds in the U.S. and Canada are accepting donations for Japan disaster relief efforts in coordination with the BIC Church in Japan, Mennonite World Conference, and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). (For information about how MCC will be distributing the funds, click here.)

In the U.S., donations can be made online (please designate "Japan” in the comment box during checkout) or by sending checks to the Brethren in Christ Church Offices at 431 Grantham Rd, PO Box A, Grantham, PA 17027. If giving by check, please make it out to "General Conference of the Brethren in Christ, Inc.," and mark "World Hunger Fund—Japan" on the memo line of the check.

In Canada, cheques should be made out to the “Canadian Conference BIC Church” and sent directly to the Canadian Conference Brethren in Christ Office: 2700 Bristol Circle, Oakville, ON L6H 6E1. Please specify “World Hunger Fund—Japan.”

For information on how other Anabaptist churches in Japan have fared, please visit Mennonite World Conference.