From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:32:52


                     by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Presbyterian World Service (PWS) has established 
a special account for those wishing to contribute to relief efforts 
in Japan following the devastating Jan. 18 earthquake that killed 
more than 5,000 in the Kobe/Osaka area. 
     Three times that number were injured, a quarter million people 
were left homeless, and hundreds of buildings were destroyed  
     The PWS account number is 9-2000117 and it is labeled "Japan 
Earthquake Relief."  Presbyterians may contribute through their 
local congregation. 
     In the immediate aftermath of the quake, PWS sent $10,000 for 
immediate relief help to the Japan North American Commission on 
Cooperative Mission, an ecumenical partner agency of the PCUSA.  
That contribution came from One Great Hour of Sharing offering 
     Other Japanese partners in the relief efforts include the 
Reformed Church of Japan and the United Church of Christ in Japan. 
     The PCUSA has 45 missionaries in Japan, including 14 in the 
area affected by the quake.  All have been reported safe. 
           Yodogawa Christian Hospital Plays Key Role 
     According to the Rev. Dan Rift, PWS coordinator, Presbyterians 
are playing a key role in the relief efforts through the 
denomination's Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka, which came 
through the earthquake relatively unscathed.  Because it is pretty 
much fully operational, the hospital has been a primary receiving 
site for the injured. 
     Presbyterian missionaries assigned to the hospital are the 
Rev. Lardner and Mollie Moore.   
     Dr. Seiya Shirakata, hospital superintendent, said, "The 
equipment is working fine and we are able to do our normal work.  
I hear some of our staff members' houses collapsed, but nobody got 
injured and we are all doing fine.  I am so thankful to God for 
     In addition to the efforts at the hospital, three churches in 
the Kobe area are being used as relief centers.  Partner church 
officials there report that about a dozen churches have been 
completely destroyed, another dozen suffered major damage and 
countless others sustained lesser degrees of damage. 
             Moderator Offers to Hand Carry Letters 
     General Assembly moderator the Rev. Robert W. Bohl, who had 
previously scheduled a visit to Japan, has offered to carry letters 
of concern and support from U.S. Presbyterians to partner 
Christians in the quake-stricken area. 
     Individual Presbyterians or congregations wishing to send such 
messages should send them to Presbyterian World Service at the 
Presbyterian Center in Louisville.  Letters must be received in 
Louisville by Feb. 10. 
               Missionary Gives Eyewitness Account 
     Insik Kim, coordinator for East Asia and the Pacific in the 
Worldwide Ministries Division, established immediate contact with 
Presbyterian missionary Sibbett F. (Frank) Sapp right after the 
quake struck. 
     For the better part of two days, Sapp faxed periodic reports 
back to Louisville.  Following are some excerpts:  
07:33 - 1/18/95: Had a telephone call from Yodogawa Christian 
Hospital - they are fine.  Dr. Shirakate, Director of YCH, is fine 
and has had word from the Moores and Schmidts that they are okay. 
The Hastings are at Kobe Union Church as their house is off the  
foundation (they were living out of their van on a junior high 
school playing field the first day).  
08:25 -  1/18/95: Schmidts just called they are ok.  Their house  
is ok though there is some superficial damage.  Electricity has 
just been restored to their house but they are without water and 
0:19 A.M. -  1/19/95: Television version of the damage looks like 
pictures from the Second World War.  So far there are 240,000 
refugees, almost 1200 buildings reported destroyed - 800 still 
contain people as of tonight.  Temperatures are in the  
neighborhood of freezing and Monday expects rain.  Tents have 
appeared in schoolyards many people are afraid of sleeping in 
buildings yet.  There is a possibility of another major shock 
during the next 30 days or so.  
Two Reformed churches (partner church) have been rendered useless. 
Many other churches suffered varying degrees of damage.   
0:38 A.M.  - 1/19/95: Just talked to John Schmidt.  He tells me  
that after further examination, the Hastings house is completely 
unlivable.  John has been able to reach Pastor Yang at the Chinese 
Church and all are safe.  That area was hard hit, so we are 
01:57 A.M. - 1/19/95:  The latest figures on deaths show 2943.  We  
will see more than 3,000 and there will likely be 4,000 before it 
is all over.  1923 was the last time an earthquake claimed more 
than 3,000 lives.  There are 800 buildings with people still 
trapped.  18 or so fires are still raging.  These are not quite as 
large as the Nagata blaze which destroyed about 5 square kilometers 
of residential area mostly very old wooden apartment buildings.  
A high percentage of deaths is among the elderly.   
This is the second day with no gas, no water and insufficient food. 
There are not enough blankets or food or water.  Even if there were 
enough, delivery is almost impossible.  In many cases they are 
having to resort to helicopters to lift in emergency food to school 
grounds because streets are clogged with refuse and automobiles. 
There is no infrastructure left.  The "life lines" as they are 
calling them are all cut.  Telephones, utilities  and support  
services have disappeared.  
                              # # #                                    

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  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
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