JAPAN UPDATE AND CORRECTION, MARCH 18, 2011: Friday, March 11, we reported that The National Disaster Distribution Program would be implemented in response to the devastation there. We have learned that Japan’s National Cabinet is evaluating the situation in Japan and will determine whether or not to implement The National Disaster Distribution Program there. There is a concern that responding too soon could interfere with the work of relief agencies trying to respond to basic humanitarian needs.
Here is a link to our blog post that will feature updates as we receive them from the Executive Director of The Gideons International in Japan.
Click here for Japan updates
In response to the tragic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday, March 11, The Gideons International is planning its response to this natural disaster.
According to news reports as of Friday, hundreds of people are reported dead and hundreds more missing or injured following the ferocious 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami that was unleashed by earthquake that measured 8.9 on the Richter scale. More than 50 aftershocks have already been recorded, many of them exceeding a magnitude 6.0.
The earthquake shook dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coast, including Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night.
As night fell and temperatures hovered just above freezing, tens of thousands of people remained stranded in Tokyo, where the rail network was still down. Cars, buses and trucks jammed the streets, as people tried to flee the city.
According to scientists, the quake ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month.
The director of the National Associations Division at the headquarters of The Gideons International in the U.S. has been in touch with the Executive Director of the Gideons International in Japan. While the Japanese office has cancelled a National Cabinet meeting for Saturday, it currently appears that the staff of the office in Japan is safe.
According to Operation World, over 70 percent of people in Japan claim no personal religion. Yet the majority follow the demands of Buddhism and rituals of polytheistic Shintoism.
The Gideons International is organized in 193 countries and distributes over 1.5 million copies of God’s Word throughout the world each week.
Japan’s first Gideon camp was established in 1950 and currently there are 168 Gideon camps there with approximately 1,600 Gideons and 850 Auxiliary. Today, Japan’s population is nearly 127 million, and to date, over 34 million copies of God’s Word have been placed there through The Gideons International.
Please keep the people of Japan in your daily prayers, and ask the Lord to guide and protect those dedicated Gideons there. Pray for the Lord to touch the hearts of all the Japanese who will receive His Word. May each one of them respond to the message of the Gospel and seek His Kingdom.