United Methodist Women Reach Out to Japan
United Methodist Women are praying for the Japanese people and for all of the missionaries and mission institutions in the country that was hit by earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown on March 11.
Harriett Olson, deputy general secretary of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, conveyed the concerns of the organization of women organized for mission.
Ms. Olson said that daily messages are received from the Wesley Center in Tokyo and the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi-ken, two facilities with strong mission links, and that both are trying to move ahead in light of ongoing threats to human health and safety. Wesley has a fairly new building that does not appear to be badly damaged, although a more thorough inspection will be made. The rural institute, located north of Tokyo, suffered substantial damage.
United Methodist Women connections and mission links in Japan include not only Wesley and the institute but also, church women’s organizations, and three universities, part of the Higher Education Initiative of the International Ministries program. United Methodist Women’s Pledge to Mission dollars are already at work as the Women’s Division reaches out to missionaries, partners and programs.
Sarah Oba, staff of the Wesley Center, has asked that Jeremiah 29:11 be read and prayed as a prayer for Japan. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (NRSV)
The Wesley Center’s purpose is similar to that of the Church Center for the United Nations (CCUN), that is to develop into a space that enables grassroots voices to be expressed and integrated into programs where decisions are made that impact the lives of women, children and youth.
As of March 16, the Wesley Center was working with local humanitarian organizations to assist in supplying emergency food and cooking equipment and fuel. The Wesley Center:
- Fosters involvement of the local community in public welfare projects
- Conducts international seminars and programs that build international understanding
- Provides relief for people suffering from poverty or disaster
- Offers wholesome training for children and parents
- Facilitates for women’s independent projects that address gender parity within society
- Provides scholarship aid to international students engaged in the study of global justice, preservation of the environment, international understanding and volunteerism
- Offers space within the center to other non-profit organizations
The Asian Rural Institute (ARI) is an international training center for rural community leaders located in northern Japan. Since 1973 ARI has trained more than 1000 grassroots leaders from over 50 countries in sustainable agriculture through integrated organic farming techniques, community building and leadership. Scholarship support for female and male leaders has been a means of support from United Methodist Women and Global Ministries. ARI has responded to the support through partnership activities such as hosting Global Justice Volunteers onsite.
The women’s organizations of the United Christian Church of Japan (UCCJ) and the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) are developing responses through their church connections. These groups are connected to United Methodist Women through participation in the global network of Methodist and United Methodist women.
Aoyama Gakuin University, Kwassui Women’s College and Hiroshima Jogakuin University receive support from United Methodist Women through the Higher Education Initiative of International Ministries. Network building among the women presidents of these and other women’s colleges around the world builds the capacity for each institution to better educate and prepare young women for decent employment in today’s world.
Carol Van Gorp is executive secretary for international ministries at the Women's Division.
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