Teams from BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse have been on the ground in Japan for the last week, working with local partners to coordinate and deliver much-needed aid for victims of the powerful earthquake and tsunami that devastated the island nation.
Today’s airlift is one more joint effort between the organizations—with the help of a few key friends. From Matthew West, Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant to Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, Skillet and Flyleaf, individuals, bands and organizations contributed to provide a total of 38 aircraft palettes, 215 regular palettes and 1,100 individuals items.
Jared Hartmann, guitarist for the band Flyleaf, who traveled from Texas with his wife, Kat, said: “We just want to come out and show our support. We really believe in Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Association. We just really appreciate them and want to raise as much awareness as we can. And to bring as much relief and the love of Christ (to the people of Japan).”
During a press conference prior to the 747’s departure, Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said, “I’ve led festivals through the BGEA in Okinawa and Osaka, and my father visited Japan six times during his ministry. The first thing we did after the earthquake was to contact our church partners in Japan.”
Then, said Graham, BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse provided money so the Japanese people could immediately start buying and distributing supplies to victims of the disaster. “The need is so great that we also got right to work organizing this emergency airlift,” he added.
In an interview after the press conference, Graham explained, “BGEA has had an office in Japan for several years since we did the Festival in Osaka last year, and were preparing for invitations from cities in the north, especially Tokyo and Sapporo. For us to have an office there already has enabled us to respond so much more quickly.”
Providing relief is a great opportunity to serve the church, Graham said. “The church in Japan is small, yet the pastors want to be able to respond to their own country and people, and do it in Christ’s name and in love.”
The airlift included plastic sheeting for shelters, as well as water filtration systems, blankets and hygiene supplies.
“You look at all of that rubble and you just wonder how many people are clinging to life waiting and hoping that someone will discover them – and the many thousands of others who have lost everything in this disaster. The people of Japan need our prayers, and they need our help,” said Graham.
“Many thanks on behalf of the people of Japan,” said Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan, in a statement. “Japan is now facing a challenge never-before experienced. Many people are still suffering.
“In this time, these extraordinary gifts are greatly appreciated,” Fujisaki added. “They are exactly what are needed now and in such large quantities. Everyday, I am confirming how true the saying ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’ Thank you again. We will never forget this.”
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.