March 11, 2011 News

Great East Japan Earthquake Impacts OPC Missionaries; Update 1: Cummings, Lauers and Yaegashis Safe

[Note: Links to other "Great East Japan Earthquake Updates" may be found here.]

Missionary Woody Lauer and family
Missionary Woody Lauer and family

Great East Japan Earthquake Impacts OPC Missionaries

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God interceding for us. This is Mark Bube, reporting for Telenews from the Committee on Foreign Missions of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

By now many of you have heard of the major earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan today, and are wondering about how our missionaries and our brothers and sisters in Christ there are doing. Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Friday evening in Japan (9:30 a.m., EST), missionary Woody Lauer was able to contact us in the home office. He reported that the Lauer family members living in Japan are all fine following Friday afternoon's devastating earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake's epicenter was located near the city of Sendai, where the Cummings and Uomoto families live. We also received two e-mail communications from Woody, one updating events shortly after the earthquake struck:

We are fine, though I heard that Narita (Tokyo's airport) is closed and Laurie is to land in about 10 minutes. Delta will probably have to divert to Nagoya, I imagine. I have not yet gotten through to Cal Cummings, Kaz Yaegashi or Murray Uomoto, though once Murray's phone rang about 30 times. We left the house for about 1/2 an hour when the Tsunami was expected, even though here in Numazu they were only predicting 50 cm. We are back, now, but the warnings are up again, so we are going to leave again. We will keep trying the Tohoku missionaries from our cell phone. That's all for now. Woody

Several hours later, Woody wrote:

By now you may know that at Japan Standard Time, 2:46 p.m. today (Friday; 12:46 a.m. EST), there was a massive earthquake off the coast of Sendai, followed by a Tsunami that peaked at about 10 m or roughly 35 ft. A number of seaside villages were devastated; Sendai airport was inundated. We are sad to have to report that after hours of trying on the phone, we have been unable to reach either of the Sendai OPC mission families, the Cummings or the Uomotos. Sendai was among the hardest hit communities, both by the quake and the Tsunami that followed. I did get their telephones to ring once or twice each after dozens and dozens of tries (I am continuing to try, even as I write). Alas, there was no answer on either. The Japanese TV reports that power is out throughout Sendai. It was snowing there this evening. Given that most heaters nowadays rely on AC power, it would be likely they might go to a shelter, even if their homes were still otherwise livable. Please pray earnestly for these two families and the many members of the Reformed churches throughout Sendai and Tohoku. We have no information about them at this time, either.

I have heard indirectly that the Yaegashis in Yamagata and their son, Morris (in Sendai), are OK, but I have been unable to confirm that report. Yamagata is well inland from the coast and up in the mountains. Sendai is roughly 200 miles up the coast from Tokyo. The David Lauers (our eldest and his family) live outside of Yokohama, just below Tokyo. (David was actually in Kobe far away at the time.) We, the Woody Lauers, live another 80 miles or so down the coast farther. The Lauers are all fine. Laurie is now in Hokkaido. She was almost to Tokyo, flying from Detroit after a visit with her mother in Tampa, when the earthquake hit, closing the Tokyo area airports, at least for the day. Her flight was diverted to Chitose airport where she was still on board about 4 hours after landing, since she was told the airport said it could not handle their flight. She hopes to fly down here, perhaps via Tokyo tomorrow. We will send out more information when it is available. Coveting your prayers, Woody

At the time of the quake, Woody was in his study in the Numazu Chapel building.  The earthquake immediately felt different than others of his experience; it was stronger and lasted much longer. He went to the manse and got his children so that they could stand outside in the street until the earthquake was over. As they waited, he watched his car moving in the driveway. The Tsunami wave that hit the shoreline near Numazu was about four feet high and was held by the retaining wall. When asked about the location of the Cummings and Uomoto homes in Sendai, Woody said that the Cummings' house was 3–4 km. north and west of the Sendai Airport, which had been closed following the earthquake and was surrounded by water from the tsunami. The Uomotos live in a house that is quite high and Woody felt confident that the flood waters would not have reached it. His area of concern was for the damage that they might have suffered from the earthquake itself.

Please continue to pray for the Cummings (Sendai), Lauer (Numazu), and Yaegashi (Yamagata) families laboring in Japan, together with the Coulbourne (Urayasu) and Uomoto (Sendai) families, that our Lord would guard and protect them, and our Japanese brethren, in the days ahead and that it might please him to grant them many opportunities to share Christ in both Word and deed with those whose lives have been turned upside down.

Update 1: Cummings, Lauers and Yaegashis Safe

Friday, March 11, 2011, 11:30 p.m. EST

Please join with us in thanking our Lord for news that, in addition to the Lauer family, about whom we heard earlier, the Cummingses and the Yaegashis are also safe.

Late this afternoon (EST), Cal and Edie Cummings' son, Luke, posted the following:

Cal and Edie Cummings
Cal and Edie Cummings

Mom and Dad are alive!!!! I'm talking to them on the phone right now. Their house is still standing. They have no electricity, gas or water so they can't contact anyone. Somehow my call went through after a million tries.

And later this evening (EST), we received the following update from Woody Lauer on the Yaegashis:

I spoke with Kaz Yaegashi by phone about an hour ago ...

Praise God that he and Katie are both fine, physically, and have confirmed that Morris, too, is OK. Morris was in Sendai when the quake struck (perhaps 30–40 miles east toward the coast, where quake and wave damage were severe). Their house is OK, too, though his bookshelves and other shelves have "dumped" their contents all over the floors. They are without electric power, hence unable also to use their gas heaters; a kind neighbor has lent them an old style kerosene heater that does not require AC current, so they can keep a room warm.... The gas stations are all closed since they have no power to pump gas. He cannot therefore travel much by car. (He was to preach in Fukushima for the Lord's Day service tomorrow morning.) He has been unable to contact the members and seekers of the chapel; the phones are jammed or otherwise unusable in his area (which is why it took me so long to reach him). Please pray that he will be able to do so.

Please join us in giving thanks that the Lord has spared the Yaegashi and Cummings families; pray for members of the various Reformed churches in Tohoku, especially Yamagata, Fukushima, Watari, Sendai, Ishinomaki, and Morioka All of those areas have experienced significant damage and much loss of life. Pray that we may soon be able to communicate with OPC missionary family, Murray and Tsuruko Uomoto.

May the Lord bring blessing and salvation in Christ out of this disaster.

Please continue to remember your missionaries when you take your burdens to your heavenly Father in prayer.

[Note: Links to other "Great East Japan Earthquake Updates" may be found here.]



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