On the 11th of March at 2:46pm, the biggest earthquake ever to hit Japan struck just off the coast of the Tohoku region. This caused a tsunami and fires that brought massive devastation to a very wide area. This unimaginably strong earthquake triggered an explosion at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear reactor. The people living in the area around that and the No. 2 reactor have been evacuated. The stories and images constantly broadcast by the media have left people lost for words, unable to describe the sheer scale of the unbelievable devastation caused by the earthquake, tsunami and fires.
We see homes devastated, whole towns that were swallowed by the tsunami, and houses that continue to burn because fire fighters are unable to reach both the properties and the people who were the victims of this catastrophe. With hearts filled with grief and helplessness we see people who are mourning their lost loved ones and others who search tirelessly for missing family members. There are so many who have lost their homes and possessions. Towns and villages were obliterated by the tsunami, everything was gone in a second.
Since the earthquake the Provincial office has worked very hard to find out about the people and the churches in Tohoku diocese. However, we could neither contact them by phone nor email. Only yesterday were we able to start to see a picture of the devastation in the affected areas. I had been most concerned that I could not contact the Bishop of Tohoku diocese [The Rt Revd John Hiromichi Kato], but on Saturday he rang me and I was able to find out more about what had happened to the churches in Sendai City.
Sendai Christchurch (the Cathedral church) is badly damaged and yesterday, while there were still so many aftershocks, the church carried out their first Sunday after Lent service in the diocesan office.
In many affected areas there are roadblocks but as for Tohoku diocese the church is planning to establish an emergency relief centre within the diocesan building. Bishop Kato will lead the efforts to respond to the crisis.
What we can do right now, however, is pray. Prayer has power. I hope and request that you pray for the people who are affected, for those who have died and for their families. Pray for the people involved with the rescue efforts, and in particular pray for Tohoku and Kita Kanto dioceses and their priests and parishioners during this time of Lent.
I am grateful for all the many prayers and messages of support from throughout the world; from the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Churches.
Read it all here.