City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee has announced his congregation is sending at least three relief teams to Japan to assist in recovery efforts just days after twin earthquakes devastated the region.
"On the night of 14 April, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale shook the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The epicentre is at a distance of 7 km from the city of Kumamoto. My wife, Sun [Ho,] and her team were just there two weeks ago ministering at Kumamoto Harvest Church, an amazing church led by senior Pastor Rev. Yoji Nakamura," Kong wrote on Sunday in a Facebook update.
"In the town of Mashiki, near the epicentre, buildings and homes have collapsed. 44,000 people were evacuated. The church in Mashiki has completely collapsed, and the senior pastor's family members are currently hospitalized," he added.
On Sunday, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck southern Japan, less than two days after a 6.2-magnitude temblor rocked the same region. There have been more than 440 aftershocks since Thursday, some almost as strong as the initial quake, according to CBS News. So far, 42 people are confirmed dead, while 2,000 people were treated for injuries. Currently, 30,000 rescue workers currently looking for survivors.
BBC notes that some 180,000 people are set to spend a third night in temporary shelters, including cars and tents, and more than 62,000 homes remain without electricity and 300,000 homes have no water, Japanese media reports.
Kong revealed that members of Fukuoka Harvest Church and Kumamoto Harvest Church, affiliated with his CHC ministry in Singapore, have joined together to help in disaster relief work in the predominantly atheist country.
"CHC will be sending at least three teams of disaster relief workers to assist in the town of Mashiki. Our first team, led by Rev. Kenneth Sim and Naomi Matsuda, has arrived this morning and they have been working very hard. Please pray for their safety," he added in his message.
"God loves Japan. Let us keep interceding for the people and nation of Japan. God is a good God. May His light shine brightly in the midst of the darkness."
As earlier reported, Kong and his wife and fellow CHC pastor, Sun Ho, made a ministry visit to Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Osaka and Kyoto earlier in April.
"Sun and I were so stirred and moved in our spirits. We can hear the sound of revival in our hearts, and sense that the harvest is definitely ripening," Kong wrote at the time.
"We have a deep love for Japan and for our beautiful Japanese brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Their hearts are so hungry for the Lord Jesus and His Church. They are believing that God is opening up Heaven and pouring out His Holy Spirit afresh upon this generation," he continued.
"Japan, Jesus loves you and we love you too! Thank you for receiving us with such open hearts! Jesus says,'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23)."
Meanwhile, Japan's Catholic bishops are also coordinating efforts to help the thousands of people affected by the earthquakes, according to the Catholic News Agency.
However, progress is slow, according to Bishop Kikuchi, head of Caritas Japan, the national bishops' social action arm, which is assisting in rescue and relief efforts on Kyushu. He told CNA that the affected area is "largely mountainous, and thus difficult for volunteers to access." Landslides have cut off some remote villages, and roads, bridges, and tunnels have all been damaged.
Bishop Dominic Miyahara of Fukuoka has appealed for donations to the diocese for relief and rehabilitation needs, and has sent the director of the diocesan branch of Caritas to assess the situation.
It is "very hard for the victim[s] to lose their homes where mornings and nights are still chilly," Bishop Miyahara said in an appeal for support, according to CNA.
"I'm praying for those who suffer great damage from this earthquake and we, [the] Diocese of Fukuoka are with you in your pains and sorrows. We ask your prayers for the victim[s] and people in these areas for them to have comfort and enough strength to go through this situation and for them to have quick recovery from this damage."