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Texas Baptist Relief Effort To Japan On Hold

By Jay Gormley & Ryan Crowe, CBSDFW.com
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Baptist Men were about to dive, head first, into Japan’s nightmare; until another disaster hit.

A small team of volunteers, including a pastor of a Japanese-language church based in Dallas, were supposed to leave early Saturday morning from DFW.  But with radiation concerns rising in parts of Japan, the volunteers are in a holding pattern.

“We’re kind of in a wait and hold mode. The radiation is something that has taken it to a higher level and something that we’re not accustom to dealing with,” says Gary Smith, a member of the relief organization.

The Baptist General Convention of Texas, the church group that oversees the Texas Baptist Men, made the decision to put the trip on hold in the wake of news about issues with the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.  The group is waiting to see if the situation stabilizes before sending the men on their trip.

“This disaster is basically three layers. It was first the earthquake, then the tsunami and now the nuclear threat,” says Dr. John La Noue, another member.

A recent advisory by the United States has also delayed the goodwill trip. The U.S. government has warned American citizens within a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima reactor to evacuate the area.  On Thursday, the government authorized evacuations for non-essential Americans and family members of military service members that live in the country.

But the Texas Baptist Men are no strangers to disaster.  They have responded to countless hurricanes, earthquakes and other incidents over the years.  They travel the world with their mobile kitchen, feeding those with no food and no water.  “We can produce up to 25,000 meals a day,” says Smith.

For now, they simply wait to see what happens, and pray for the people of Japan.

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