IBARAKI, Japan (BNc) – After a visit to the most affected areas in Japan, Joel Osburne, missionary with the Mito congregation, reports an “ongoing desperate need for funds” in the country.

Dwight Albright reported yesterday that the Park Avenue church in Memphis, Tenn., had “received contributions from 35 states. Alaska and North Carolina were added to the list yesterday [Apr. 13]. Contributions are approaching $300,000.”

That amount pales, however, compared to the crushing need that continues in Japan.

“I can’t even begin to put into words yet what we have seen. It doesn’t look like or feel like Japan at all. The best I can do is say that it looks like a bombed, war-torn country. It is overwhelming, especially when I know what much of it looked like before the disaster. The needs are even more overwhelming. Emotional needs are even more overwhelming,” Joel wrote.

One Japanese brother emphasized that the work of providing aid “is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash.”

Missionary Marlin Ray also returned recently from the worst hit areas, in Fukushima. Many people are still housed in schools. He wrote,

One volunteer was cooking for the people, working all day every day since the tsunami. We came to relieve her for one day. Some of the people help her, but she does all the planning and overseeing. On that day, a 9-year-old boy had a birthday. We went out and found a small cake and put whipped cream and strawberries on it. We sang “Happy Birthday” to him. There were tears in his eyes. His sister and mother were there. I didn’t hear anything else about him except that he has no home to go to. It was hard to keep from crying. I said a prayer for him, but it was difficult. We gave all the children colored pencils and paper.

A committee was chosen at the Ibaraki preachers’ meeting Monday, Apr. 11, to oversee the use of the funds being sent to the Mito church, according to Marlin’s wife Jean. The committee is made of up American workers and Japanese brethren. Some of the committee will go to the Tokyo preacher’s meeting Monday, Apr. 18.

“I think everyone on the committee shares a strong feeling that we need to hurry up and get started. We will need a ton of wisdom, so please be praying for us,” she said.

The Park Ave. church continues to accept contributions to the Japanese relief fund.