From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
MODERATOR TOURS DEVASTATED JAPAN QUAKE AREA
05 May 1996 07:36:11
95056 MODERATOR TOURS DEVASTATED JAPAN QUAKE AREA
by Jerry L. Van Marter
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A scene of "unbelievable damage" was depicted by
Presbyterian missionary to Japan Sibbett (Frank) Sapp after he
accompanied General Assembly moderator the Rev. Robert W. Bohl on
a Feb. 21 visit to the Osaka/Kobe area, which was severely stricken
by an earthquake Jan. 17.
The PC(USA) delegation saw "block upon block of houses and
apartments shattered and fallen," Sapp said. "Up narrow side
streets (in Kobe) you could see houses collapsed into the street
almost blocking the road."
Sapp said part of the shock in Kobe, the epicenter of the
quake's damage, was due to the fact that the city was considered
an "earthquake-free area."
Christian leaders in the area are not as concerned with the
physical damage as they are the human suffering the quake has
generated. "Numerous members of their congregations lost not only
their homes but their livelihoods," Sapp explained. Officials
estimate that only 20 percent of the people and businesses in Kobe
had earthquake insurance, so the losses are total.
Particularly in poorer areas, Sapp continued, "people's homes
were also the location of their businesses. ... But the ones you
really feel sorry for are those who borrowed money to purchase
condominiums or houses which were destroyed. Without insurance they
have no home, but they still have a large mortgage payment."
Church leaders are frustrated in their attempts to help
because Japan has no government "safety net" to provide assistance
to victims. The Reformed Church in Japan has formulated a plan to
try and help, Sapp said. It has asked each member to contribute
$150 to a fund that will provide small amounts of assistance to
quake victims. Church leaders expressed considerable gratitude for
disaster funds that have arrived from churches in the United
States, Sapp said.
Bohl and his wife, Judy, were able to meet with every
Presbyterian missionary remaining in the affected area. All are
uninjured, but the mass destruction of housing in the Kobe/Osaka
area means that finding places for mission personnel to live will
be a problem.
Presbyterian World Service has established a special account
for those who wish to contribute to relief efforts. The account,
"Japan Earthquake Relief," is #9-2000117.
# # #
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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