Compassion for Japan

by Catherine Haug, March 22, 2011

I received the article below in an email from Robert Seymour, a member of our ESP community from Kalispell. He alerts us to a day of compassion for Japan, to be held on Sunday April 10.

If you choose not to participate via the community of churches, there are other organizations involved in the relief effort that you can support, including Unicef, Save the Children, Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. Or check out Google Crisis Relief: Resources related to the 2011 Japan Crisis.

Compassion for Japan

by Robert Seymour

The suffering and destruction in aftermath of the devastating March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Japan is beyond comprehension.

Stores have run out of food, blankets and basic sanitary items. Tens of thousands huddle in darkness; many are injured and sick from exposure to the snow and cold. If they don’t receive immediate help, many will die from hunger and dehydration.

Even in the midst of the carnage and despair of Japan’s tsunami victims, the plight of the 30 children at Kama Elementary School is heartbreaking. The children sit silently waiting in classrooms for parents who will never come to pick them up. Many more have lost family members and have no way of knowing if they are alive.

The news out of Japan has been particularly hard for our family to witness. For several days my wife was unable to contact her parents who are pastors of a church in Tokyo.

I have spent over a decade working in Tokyo and farming on the northern island of Hokkaido, and if there is anything the Japanese do well it is “gaman”. The verb “gaman” is infused with the idea of persevering and enduring against the odds.  It is the cultural common denominator which the Japanese mutually invoke to encourage one another in the face of difficulty.

Even when their own homes have been badly damaged by typhoons, farmers will pull together to harvest rice fields by hand that have been flattened by storm and rain. I see this same resolve in the faces of tsunami survivors as they share a meal together amidst the rubble of their destroyed neighborhoods.   I see this virtue personified as I watch fifty brave men at the failed Fukushima nuclear facility sacrificing their lives for the country.

After ripping up the carpet in our flooded home the other day, I finally sat down and took a break. As I looked around the room full of wet clothing and clutter, I realized just how insignificant my own troubles were in comparison to the suffering in Japan. I found myself praying and weeping for the people of Japan who have lost everything in the tsunami.

I am convinced Japan will overcome and rise again from this terrible tragedy. The Japanese would normally never think of asking for help, but today they desperately need our help… and they need it now. In my own life, I never dreamed I would need to ask for help, but God has a unique way of challenging me to keep perspective.

Moving back to Montana from Japan in 2008, our lives have been disrupted by death, sickness, loss of income and flooding in our home. Yet I have seen windows of heaven open in outpourings of kindness from friends, churches and even strangers. Since my wife was diagnoses [sic.] with leukemia last year, churches as far away as California have reached out to bless our family.

This is the miracle of American compassion, and this is why on Sunday, April 10, the community of faith across the Flathead Valley will observe a day of compassion for Japan. Congregations will be praying for the millions affected by this tragedy and taking a special offering to bring help to the estimated half a million homeless people still without food, water and basic necessities.  Collected funds will be pooled through Christian Center and donated to World Vision Japan.

World Vision Japan emergency response teams are distributing relief supplies to the thousands of homeless people in hard hit areas, providing water, blankets, and other urgently needed supplies. Ongoing efforts are focusing on the unique needs of children, who are the most impacted.

I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. Matt 25:35

Please join us in reaching out to the children and families devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Your donation of any amount to World Vision Japan will bring help and hope to thousands who are still suffering from cold and hunger. Ask your church leadership to consider participation and go to for a list of churches helping in this relief effort. The list will be updated daily as more information is available.   World Vision Japan quake and tsunami updates can be found at

Robert & Kaori Seymour, Kalispell, MT

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