Churches across North Texas prayed Sunday morning for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For Asian-American Baptist Church in Richardson, the disaster hit a little closer to home because members of the congregation have relatives in Japan.
Worshippers bowed their heads for the Japanese people, who are enduring the most destructive disaster in recorded history.
"We pray, Lord, that you will mobilize us as a church to do all that we can to let them know that you are still in control and that you still care for them," said pastor Ben Wong in a prayer during the worship service.
"Each day when we wake up and turn on the news, we see that the devastation is far greater than what anybody has imagined," said Steve Ku, deacon and chair of the church's missions committee. "It's very easy for us to sit over here and say, 'Oh, it's just another event that happened and it doesn't impact us in any way.' So we want people to know that this is something that touches all of us."
When church member Mike Tong woke up to the news Friday morning, he and his wife, Kaori, immediately tried to reach their family in Osaka and Kyoto -- cities hundreds of miles from the earthquake's epicenter but still felt the tremors. Their relatives were safe.
The congregation is collecting money over the next four weeks and will send it to World Vision, a humanitarian organization helping with relief efforts.
"It's an opportunity where we can help fellow human beings and help people out and hurting families," said Tong.
The church is reaching beyond the person in the next seat to give a hand to people half a world away.
"Even though there's only a few people that are directly related to us in Japan, there are people who are dying, who are missing, who are grieving, and so they need our help," said Wong.