By Grelan Muse Sr. and Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Twenty-four hours after a massive twister hit Moore, Okla., rescue crews have nearly concluded their search for survivors and victims.Onlookers watch as children are pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School following a tornado in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Associated Press reported Tuesday at least 24 people were killed when the tornado ripped through the suburban city, which sits just south of Oklahoma City. At least 9 of the dead are children, seven of which attended Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Jayme Shelton, a spokesman for the city of Moore, told the Washington Post. “Send your prayers this way.”

Amy Elliot, coroner with the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office in Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press at least 40 more bodies are expected. She didn’t elaborate as to how many of the deceased were children from Plaza Towers.

The 2-mile wide tornado, which hit Moore the afternoon of May 20, packed winds of up to 200 miles per hour and churned as it sat on the ground for an estimated 40 minutes. Homes in the path of the twister were leveled, and vehicles sat on top of one another.

This is the second tornado to touch the ground in Oklahoma in many days. On May 19, a tornado hit east of Moore killing two people.

Joel Reynalds, son of ASSIST News Services senior correspondent Jeremy Raynalds, lives in the area, said the devastation was “unreal.”

“(I’ve) never) seen anything like it. It looked like a bomb went off,” Joel Reynalds said.

Efforts to help victims of the tornado poured out immediately. According to Jeremy Raynalds, chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have been deployed to Moore to offer support.

“Our hearts are breaking for all of those in the path of this horrific tornado. Words can’t do justice to the pain that is being experienced in and around Moore,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.

“Please pray continuously for all of those who lost loved ones, and for those who may still be trapped amidst the rubble.”

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is deploying in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, who is also president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Together the two ministries will seek to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those impacted by the storm.

The threat for severe weather continues Tuesday as severe thunderstorms containing hail, damaging wind gusts, and tornadoes. According to the Weather Channel, areas that should prepare for the severe weather include Dallas, Shreveport, La., St. Louis, Chicago, and Columbus, Ohio.

By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

An Internet evangelism effort to reach millions shaken and still hurting from the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, has launched a series of seeker-friendly “stepping stone” web sites in Japan.

Internet ministry Jesus.net Japan is partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, Campus Crusade, and author Philip Yancey to help lead them to start a relationship with God and make a connection with local churches.

Jesus.net Japan is an extension of Jesus.net (www.jesus.net ), a global alliance of Internet ministries that operates Christian

Jesus.Net Japan's Hope for Living video plays during the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's "Celebration of Hope" event held recently in Tohoku, Japan.

evangelistic websites in more than 20 languages worldwide. Jesus.net recently was awarded the National Religious Broadcasters’ “Innovation Award” for its global, cutting-edge evangelism strategy.

The U.S. entity and English information source for the ministry is Jesus Net Japan (www.jesusnetjapan.org ).

In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the disaster, Jesus.net Japan partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for its “Celebration of Hope” event in Tohuku and will support Philip Yancey’s speaking tour in Northern Japan March 7-11. It also will be involved in four BGEA events in Japan in 2013. Other partners include Samaritan’s Purse (www.samaritanspurse.org  ), Campus Crusade for Christ (www.ccci.org  ) and CRASH Japan (www.crashjapan.com  ).

“The disasters last spring and the continuing economic upheaval here have people wondering what life is about more than ever before,” said Christian Zebley, former missionary to Japan and U.S. spokesperson for Jesus Net Japan. “The Japanese are a very private people and do not talk about religion easily. Many already use the Internet to answer questions or find information about topics considered too embarrassing to discuss in person.”

According to ABC News, 2 million people around the world “look for God each day” online, said Zebley. Searches are on topics about the supernatural or on the big questions about life and the future.

“We want to give people an opportunity to get answers and hope where they spend a lot of time – on the Internet – and connect them with other Japanese who have satisfied the longings of their hearts in Jesus,” he said.

Jesus.net Japan’s initial web site, Hope for Living (www.hopeforliving.net  ) introduces visitors to survivors of earlier quakes or other traumatic experiences. Their stories illustrate how they have been strengthened by faith in God, or how they got to know Jesus in the midst of their turmoil. The site also contains prayers and words of hope to encourage those who are afraid, tired, lonely or going through difficult times.

As the one-year anniversary of the quake approaches, Jesus.net Japan is planning more ways to reach out to the Japanese people, including a special series of Hope for Living stories from the stricken region, filmed with the help of Samaritan’s Purse.

Jesus.net Japan is a part of Jesus.net (www.Jesus.net ), a worldwide movement of more than 40 national and international ministries who partner together to create a network of online websites and tools to assist and support online searchers in their spiritual search.