When Ken Isaacs got on the train from Tokyo to Osaka last week, he couldn’t find a seat. Thousands of people were fleeing the city in fear of possible nuclear fallout. On his return trip, the train was virtually empty.
As the Vice President of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, Isaacs is working closely with BGEA Associate Director of Asian Affairs Chad Hammond in a joint effort to bring help and hope to hurting people following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Reporting by phone Thursday, Isaacs said that the nuclear cloud was keeping him cut off from his team to the north in Sendai.
CNN reported that close to 200,000 people living within a 12-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – the hardest hit of several nuclear plants affected since the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami – had been evacuated. Authorities banned flights over the area.
According to public health officials in Japan, the nuclear fallout can cause both immediate and long-term health problems, including radiation poisoning and cancer. FOX News reports that low levels of radiation have been detected well beyond Tokyo, which is 140 miles south of the plant, but hazardous levels have been limited to the plant itself.
With emotion choking his throat, Isaacs spoke about the hardships the Japanese people are currently facing. “The nuclear disaster is consuming the nation,” he said. “We are in uncharted waters.”
The 747 cargo jet carrying 93 tons of disaster relief supplies that left Charlotte, N.C. at 1 p.m. (Eastern) arrived at Yokoto Air Force Base at 5:30 p.m. Saturday (local time). The U.S. military unloaded the plane in less than an hour with the items being warehoused overnight before being flown into Sendai on Sunday.
“A couple of hundred churches dot the northern part of Japan,” Isaacs said. “The average congregation is 20 people. The churches themselves don’t have the capacity to do distributions, but they are strategic in terms of Kingdom building. This effort is building their reputation and respect.
“People will never forget that the Christians came.”
Supplies will be given to displaced people living in public shelters, said Isaacs, who has led recovery efforts for approximately 25 years and described the damage as worse than Haiti in some ways.
Nearly 13,000 people are dead or missing and several hundred thousand have been left homeless from Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. Cold, snowy weather in parts of the Asian nation further heightened the hardship of a nation facing what its leaders call its biggest disaster since World War II.
Isaacs is calling on the Christian community around the world to continue to pray for the recovery efforts. Here’s some ways you can pray specifically:
• That Japan’s military will be able to assist the team from Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA transport 93 tons of supplies that arrived Saturday from the airlift.
• For wisdom from the Holy Spirit in all decision-making.
• Continued favor with Japan government officials.
• For much-needed fuel (for trucks).
• For protection from radiation.
• For the people of Japan, who are very fearful and anxious.
• That people will come to see God’s love in spite of their suffering and in the midst of their suffering.
“Despite the challenges our team is facing in Japan, we have much to be thankful for,” Isaacs said. “Please join us in praising God for the help of the U.S. military, Japanese government officials, and local Christians. Thank Him that our charter flight arrived safely in Japan. Thank Him that our team has remained safe and healthy.”
How You Can Help
People across Japan have lost virtually everything in the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Please donate online today and thank you for your support.