JAPAN (MNN) ―officialusnavytsunami Life goes in the shadow of a disaster.

Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis have shaken confidence in the surety of day-to-day life. However, survivors still need to eat, drink, and stay warm as they begin to wrap their minds around the enormity of rebuilding.

Asian Access is walking alongside the people through their network of churches, the unsung heroes of the catastrophe. They sent a First response team a week after the disaster.

Another team followed on the heels of the First Responders. Jeffrey Sonnenberg was a member of the team that wanted not only to figure out a more efficient resource plan, but also to share the hope stories.

Thousands are still in evacuation shelters with no idea how long it will be before they can go "home" again. On a positive note, the infrastructure is showing signs of improvement. Water is flowing again, and food is making its way into the damaged areas.

Moving out of the early days of the disaster, Sonnenberg says, "People are looking more for clothes and for containers to put clothes into as they're in the evacuation centers. So we're seeing it progress into a different stage."

Local churches are standing in the gap for those too far removed from the urban centers that are seeing the infrastructure repaired. "They were going in to assess and have been very involved in trying to bring relief aid goods to the evacuation centers, especially some of the more isolated communities."

It will take years to restore the damaged communities. However, "We've seen some great examples of churches going out into their communities, helping to deliver supplies to people who need them, helping people to clean out their homes, to get the muck and the junk out of their homes. Pray for the churches as they go out as the hands of Christ."

Naturally, with nearly every headline about Japan talking about the nuclear crisis, the question had to be asked: "Is the radiation affecting the team? Are they safe?" Sonnenberg responds, "Asian Access is very much aware of the radiation issue. There is the ‘no-access' zone that we have not sent people into."

Recent reports indicated that radiation was found in some vegetables grown near the crippled nuclear site. That report set off a panic. Is it becoming a concern for the churches involved with the food distribution?  Not really, Sonnenberg says. "Currently, the area we've been working in--Sendai, the radiation is a non-issue there. We're monitoring it very carefully."

While the Japanese have responded with great dignity to the crisis surrounding them, the strain is taking its toll. Their church teams are in place to help. "People are still very much in a state of shock. They're still really trying to grapple with the reality [of] what's going on. People are beginning to question and [they're] wrestling with issues of death and ‘what happens after I die.'"

Mortality questions could be the tool that gets past the traditional resistance to the Gospel. "We are seeing people being more open to hearing about Christ, but to be honest, a lot of the effort, up until now, is just being able to get people the most basic of needs. Now, we'll need to focus a lot more on the spiritual needs, as well."

The scope of the response in Japan is both taxing and mind-boggling. And Asian Access is asking for help.  They need prayer support for their teams, as well as wisdom for how they will continue to move forward. They also need funds. Damage estimates are in the hundreds of billions. Immediate survival needs involve food, water, shelter and heat for hundreds of thousands.

Asian Access received a $1,000,000 matching gift pledge to help meet the spiritual and physical needs. Their team is made up of 400 pastors and 1800 churches...and the potential for eternal impact is huge.  Effectively, for every gift sent to help A2 and their church teams, the impact is doubled.  

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