Soon after I returned to Japan, a month after the earthquake and tsunami disasters happen, I began working with CRASHJapan in an administrative capacity compiling and summarizing reports from disaster relief bases. This along with other responsibilities kept me located in the Tokyo area and I didn’t have time to join volunteer teams.
About 6 weeks ago however, I had the opportunity to join a team with a camera crew from CBN for a weekend trip to Tohoku (northern Japan). It was an amazing experience to see first hand how CRASHJapan is partnering with local churches to reach out with aid and support in their communities. Below is the television broadcast for that trip and you can read more of CBN’s report here.
Our first stop was at the CRASHJapan warehouse opening ceremony in Nasu. I helped with simple stuff like directing attendees to the warehouse location and breaking down chairs and tables when finished. The keynote speaker was Akira Sato, the pastor of Fukushima First Baptist Church near the nuclear power plants that were damaged. He shared about the ways the triple (earthquake, tsunami, and radiation) crises affected him personally and how through it grew in confidence that God still works all things for good, even through disaster and hardship… thats the rough summery at least. His message it below, sorry that at the moment there are no English subtitles.
The next day began with a visit to Koriyama Christ Church. This church was in a unique position with strong relationships in the local community to directly assist evacuees from the nuclear radiation evacuation zone with life starter kits. But due to the needs of so many evacuees the church quickly ran out of funding. The purpose of my teams visit was to learn more of how CRASHJapan could direct funds and resources to help them continue assisting those in need, I was very encouraged to learn how God was using this church. Below is my amateur attempt at recording and editing what was shared during our meeting.
From Koriyama we headed to Sendai to meet with the pastor of the relocated Seaside Bible Chapel. The original location of this church was completely swept away by tsunami along with the entire surrounding neighborhood. Visiting that area we saw nothing but devastation and it was hard to imagine that a community of people once lived there. But the area near the old Seaside Bible Chapel location had a cross lifted up high infront of a pulpit and a sitting area made of crates, broken cinder blocks, and planks of wood. Even after the tsunami devastated everything I could tell that a worship service took place there and a message was preached. Wood planks were also setup near the cross with writing that read:
We believe in the revival of this land!
There is a special hope here!
We love this land!
In my previous blog post I included a video that towards the end shows the worship service that took place at the old Seaside Bible Chapel location. The entire video was very encouraging.
A coffee shop that shut down after the tsunami was reopened as the new location for Seaside Bible Chapel and became a disaster relief base for CRASHJapan in the Sendai area. As reported in the CBN broadcast, this new location opened greater opportunities to share the gospel and to be a blessing to the city. The testimony of this church and those serving there is a great encouragement that God is very much at work in Japan.
There is still much work to be done, rebuilding and recovery will take many years. For now I continue helping CRASHJapan administratively compiling situation summaries and serving where opportunities and time permit. At some point I do hope to return to Tohoku again. Its my prayer that all of those already serving there would remember with me the we are not saved by our good works, but by God’s grace… and by his grace we are saved to good works that he has already prepared for us (Ephesians 2:8-10).