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Letter to churches in Japan

Letter to churches in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011.

23 March 2011

Anglican Church in Japan
Korean Christian Church in Japan
Orthodox Church in Japan
United Church of Christ in Japan
National Christian Council in Japan

Geneva, 23 March 2011

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Words cannot express the dismay and sorrow filling our hearts as we continue to see the pain and suffering of the Japanese people attempting to rebuild lives and restore communities that had been ravaged by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami ten days ago. As the danger of a nuclear catastrophe continues to loom the safety and health of future generations pose serious concerns. The more recent news of radioactive contamination in food has heightened the apprehension and concern as the fragile web of life in which we live is endangered. Indeed, the crisis and challenge before the people of Japan is one that threatens all of humankind as we are all deeply connected in the oikoumene of God’s creation.

This inter-connectedness of our being co-habitants of one planet and our being created in the image of the one God compels us to enter into the pain and suffering of the people of Japan with the sympathy of our Lord, Christ Jesus empowered in the knowledge that

… since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

(Hebrews 4:14-16)

While we share the grief of the people of Japan  for the lives that have been lost, the loss of livelihoods, we turn our eyes toward heaven seeking God’s grace and mercy. We pray for God’s grace and divine protection for those  who are risking their own lives  in order to save others, especially those working at the nuclear reactors and trying to avert a nuclear meltdown. With Christ our hands reach out to comfort those who are engaged in rescue operations and wander through the debris in search for lives.

 The World Council of Churches has been following the disastrous situation  unfolding in Japan from the very beginning.  I have convened a meeting of various colleagues in WCC headquarters who are in liaison with churches and ecumenical partners in different parts of the world, especially the emergency relief and humanitarian aid arm of the ecumenical family the  ACT Alliance.  It is heartening that several member churches of the WCC have been praying for the people of Japan and trying to mobilise resources to extend all possible supports to our sisters and brothers in Japan through the churches in Japan. I take this opportunity to encourage Christians around the world to continue to support you in prayer and action.

 As you seek to comfort and help the many neighbours in need throughout Japan I have no doubt that your commitment to the gospel message of love, sacrifice and service will be a powerful witness to God’s love for the nation and people of Japan.  May the Spirit of God continue to empower and sustain you with His abundant grace.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches