Japan is a rich, modern country and doesn't need help after a natural disaster the way places like Haiti and Indonesia do, right?
Wrong. Even if you ignore the nuclear power plant problems, no one country has the resources to handle a disaster of this magnitude.
Janet and Stephan each lived (separately) for a year in Japan. Janet's friends are fine, being located on the other side of Tokyo and surrounded by mountains. Stephan's friends are closer to the troubled area, but apparently are also well. One was even in the U.S. at the time of the quake; near to us, in fact, studying at the Orlando campus of Reformed Theological Seminary.
He and a team of others are even now en route back to Japan, bringing not only manpower but also water purifiers and other equipment and supplies. They will be working with a small church that has been shuttling supplies—not to mention human contact and hope—to places the government has yet to reach with aid. It began with one trip and one truck, and has been expanding tremendously as neighbors and businesses have become involved. You can read about the project at www.spendyourself.org, the website of one of the team members—the son of the church's pastor. And if you, like me, prefer to support individual, local relief efforts when you can, that site also provides a tax-deductible way to help the team help the Japanese.
I'll have to say that despite Stephan's recommendation, it was a bit of a struggle for me at first, because of some negative experiences with that particular denomination. But as I had recently spoken forcefully about the need to transcend differences, even serious theological differences, whenever we can work together for a common goal—well, I knew this had just enough of the flavor of God's sense of humor to make it important.
Whether you want to support the team or not, I recommend following www.spendyourself.org for the story of small triumphs of hope, in the midst of great tragedy, that you won't hear on CNN.