Local pastor explains why churches are slow to send aid to Japan

Jeff Robinson, pastor at Southside Baptist Church
Jeff Robinson, pastor at Southside Baptist Church
Donn Turner
Donn Turner

By Whitney Grunder - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – The death toll in Japan continues to rise. An estimated 10,000 were killed by the quake and tsunami. Thousands of others are still missing.

Volunteers across the globe are working to send aid. Here in East Texas, it's a different story... at least for now.

They are the first to extend a helping hand to those in need. Except now, local churches seem to be the last ones organizing relief efforts for quake and tsunami victims.

There's a good reason explains Jeff Robinson, the pastor at Southside Baptist Church.

"Churches are just on standby. Most of them that have national organizations that are there already are on standby and waiting to hear from them. Such as us—right now we are in wait and see mode. We are in prayer mode," said Robinson.

Local pastors say because of the magnitude of the disaster, helping out is complicated.

"We have the earthquake, we have the subsequent tsunami and now we have the nuclear disaster which has taken place. Even today there was a third explosion and as a result of that the Japanese government required everyone within 19 miles of the reactor to stay in their homes so there is not much movement going on. We can't get there," said Robinson.

Some East Texans say Japan may not need our help.

"People are giving them their space. They are not like Haiti. They are not a real poor country that needs a lot of help," said Carolyn Thompson.

Donn Turner disagrees.

"People feel that since they are an industrialized nation that they can fend for themselves. On a disaster like this here there's no such thing. You should be able to lend a hand," said Turner.

A hand that most East Texans are more than willing to extend.

"It's just a matter of time. I think people are going to take action eventually," said Victoria Doggett, an East Texas teacher.

"They just need time. That's all," agreed Eric Wiley.

It's precious time for the thousands of now homeless residents in Japan.

Through Saturday, you can donate supplies at the National Guard Armory in Lufkin. They need medical supplies, bedding, tarps and tents, and hygiene items. Clothing is the only thing not being accepted.

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