‘Come over and help us!’
Emergency Disaster Services team from Korea travels to Japan.
By Bongshik Hong, Major
After Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, an emergency disaster services (EDS) team from The Salvation Army Korea Territory traveled to the stricken country, delivering supplies, helping clean up and offering spiritual comfort.
Major Bongshik Hong, Korean territorial public relations secretary, reports below on the Korea Territory’s efforts to help Japan.
Immediately upon news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, The Salvation Army Korea Territory called an emergency meeting for early the next morning to plan possible measures to help the nearby country.
A three-fold plan emerged at the meeting: 1) The Korea Territory will conduct specific prayer for Japan for one month; 2) All the Korean corps will participate in offerings for Japan; and 3) The Korea Territory will hold fundraising through a Red Kettle Appeal.
On March 18-19, the Red Kettle Appeal launched on the street with 30 annually appear for the Christmas season. This appeal was the first to occur in March since the Red Kettle came into Korea 83 years ago. Many people took part in this fundraising, showing their love and concern. In addition to the street fundraising, a large number of people have donated both online and offline, through the territory. To date, the total amount raised is $336,000 USD. Korea Disaster Relief Association and K-Water joined the territory in helping Japan by shipping water bottles and other goods to the Japan Territory on March 19 and 26.
Korean team in Japan
The Korea Territory Emergency Relief Team, made up of 10 Salvationists, set out for Japan on March 30, bringing relief to Tokyo and Sendai. Despite the danger and fear of radioactive materials, the team didn’t hesitate, remembering the plea, “Come over and help us!”
On this short trip of three days and two nights, the team divided into two groups, each carrying out its duties successfully. The first group handled water bottles and other relief goods that had already arrived, and also discussed further relief plans with Japanese personnel. It was especially meaningful for the group to meet an elderly Korean woman, named Song, Shin-do, who lived in the area most affected by the disaster and whose house had been totally destroyed. She was deeply moved when team members delivered a letter of consolation from Korea Territorial Commander Park, Man-hee, a box of traditional Korean cookies and $9,000 USD.
The second team, in cooperation with Korean missionaries in Japan, went into Sendai, the most seriously damaged city. The long drive—about nine hours to Sendai from Tokyo—led through Hukushima, where the people felt extremely threatened from the danger of the flow of radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant. Our relief members didn’t mind the fearful situation there, caring for needs of people evacuated in a shelter, and also comforting them.
The relief team—encouraged by the earnest prayers of Korean Salvationists for the Japanese people—was able to offer compassionate assistance to the Japanese, in cooperation with the Japan Territory and Korean missionaries.
Japan’s situation is still serious, not only from the earthquake and aftershocks, but also from radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant. Salvationists everywhere must continue to pray for Japan’s recovery. We still hear the voice of the Lord, urging, “Go over to Japan and help them.” We will keep making every possible effort for Japan, to ease their suffering.
U.S. team member’s testimony
Salvationist Keri Shay, a freelance photographer from Chicago, writes: “The Korea Territory asked me to join their team for the trip to Japan. I believe the Lord put this opportunity in front of me—he worked out all the details for me to go. I was a little nervous because of the health risks, but I knew God had a plan for the team. We were able to go to Sendai with a Korean pastor who was a friend of one of the Korean officers on the team. We visited a shelter and helped hand out food, clothes and toiletries. Meeting the people in the shelter impacted me the most. Seeing the devastation on the streets and the homes destroyed was jarring, but spending time with the people who had just lost their homes and much more struck me deeply. It was incredible to see these earthquake victims first hand and experience their kindness toward us despite their current situation. I know I have a responsibility to continue to pray for Japan and the people I met.”