| Apr 11, 2011
We knew we were getting close to the tsunami-affected area when we saw rice fields filled with debris and mud. Then, as we passed over a hill and descended to a bay, our world changed.
Homes were tilted on their sides. Entire streets were scrubbed clean, leaving only foundations behind. Cars perched eerily on the roofs of buildings that were three stories high.
It was as if someone had taken a giant mixer and swirled around all of the contents of the land. Buildings, vehicles, personal belongings, trees, light poles and boats were all twisted together in piles of debris. There were no people. Only silence.
The force of the tsunami was unimaginable. In one area, I walked to a building that had been constructed of steel girders. The girders were at least 8 inches wide. They were twisted into a mass of spaghetti. On top of the mass was a boat, lying upside down.
The scale of the destruction is enormous. For mile after mile, we passed broken bridges, ruined houses, empty streets which had been filled with businesses and homes.
The impact of the destruction is also extremely personal. Next to the mass of spaghetti girders, we found a small pink teddy bear—a toy that had belonged to a young child. We didn’t know what had happened to the child. But, the wet, soiled teddy bear symbolized for us the impact of the tsunami on one child—and thousands of others as well.
I heard from others that the height of the tsunami exceeded 90 feet in some places. It followed rivers and streams , causing destruction for miles away from the ocean. It crashed into inlets with such force that it threw vehicles, boats and other debris far into trees and hillsides above the affected area.
There are no words to describe this disaster. I took several videos at the scene that give some sense of what happened. You can find them at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huiE43MBGyM and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hq8WQ1ZAJI.
The Japanese people are resilient and working hard to clean up and rebuild. But the scale of the disaster is enormous and beyond the capacity of the government or official relief groups. This means that there is a lot for churches to do. Churches throughout Japan are already sending hundreds of volunteers to help clean out homes, care for people in the emergency shelters and touch grieving hearts with love and care.
This is a key moment for the people of Japan. In this moment, we have the great privilege to demonstrate Christ’s love to those who have suffered so much. Thank you for your partnership with us in this effort. We are making a real difference in Japan. You are helping us to do so.
I’m praying for the people of Japan affected by these disasters. Please join me in doing so.