Volume. XXIX, No. 46
Sunday, 17 May 2015


Missions to Japan (Part 1)


こんにちは ! 私の名前はジリアンです. Konnichiwa! My name is Jillian. In April this year, I went to Japan with 4 other team members to the tsunami-stricken Iwate prefecture in the Tohoku region. 

The Tohoku Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck the north-eastern coast of Japan on 11th March 2011. This devastating earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that destroyed the north-eastern coastal cities in the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture. 15,863 people died and 2,949 are missing (or presumed to be dead). Some coastal cities were worst hit then the others ― Rikuzentakata (Iwate) lost about 70% of its city in this disaster while Miyako (Iwate) saw tsunami waves of up to 40m high and 9,000 people died in Minamisanriku (Miyagi). Four years on, thousands of Japanese survivors are still living in kasetsus (temporary housing complexes) that have been provided by the government. To this day, many are still psychologically affected by the disaster.

 

Japan has a population of 127.3 million but only one percent are Christians. A majority of the population are either Shinto or Buddhist. To many of the Japanese Christians, especially those in the Tohoku region, the 11th March 2011 (3.11) disaster was a huge wake up call. Before the tsunami, few missionary was serving along the Iwate coastline. The Iwate coastline was previously very hard ground for the sowing of the gospel seeds. There are five cities in Iwate with only one church, and 36 towns and villages that have no church. After the tsunami, Christian organisations started arriving in Tohoku to help with disaster relief and meet the people’s needs. Their efforts have been a great help in softening the ground for future evangelism in the area. The English Presbytery (EP) Japan Missions (EPJM) project was started in 2011 to serve mainly in the Tohoku tsunami disaster zone. Although some short and medium term organisations and workers have slowly pulled out in recent years, EPJM continues to send teams there every month whenever possible. EPJM works in partnership with the 3.11 Iwate Church Network, a network that was established to support churches, people and communities affected by the Great Eastern Japan Disaster.

 

Many people have asked me the question ‘Why Japan?’. The real question is ‘Why NOT Japan?’

 

Recap of what we did in 10 days:

Together with 4 other team members, we flew into Tokyo on Monday (13th April) and made our way to Morioka (capital of Iwate Prefecture) which was a two and a half hour Shinkansen ride away. We were greeted by Pastor Yoshiya Kondo of Morioka Bible Baptist Church (MBBC) who works as the coordinator of the 3.11 Iwate Church Network.

On Tuesday morning, we drove 2 hours east to the coastal city of Miyako, where we spent the next four days ministering in six different kasetsus. Here we worked with Pastor Iwatsuka and his team – Chizuko, Rumiko and Yuji. In Miyako alone, there are more than 50 kasetsu complexes, some of which are built on tennis courts and school fields.  Currently the residents are waiting for their new homes to be built, but many are ambivalent about moving as they would need to adapt to a new environment all over again.  At each kasetsu, we ran a two hour program that usually starts with singing some Japanese songs (a mix of traditional and worship songs), a craft activity (we did some Easter egg crafts as well as some painting) and a simple meal cooked by us. We alternated between two meals – Indonesian gado gado and satay and Chinese sausage omelette with seaweed soup. Usually at kasetsus, we do not openly share and talk about the gospel but link up the crafts to the gospel or share a little as we introduce the songs. The main objective is to focus on building up positive relationships with the people before sharing about the gospel.  Most of the residents are elderly (70-90 years old) but there are also some young families and young adults. By God’s grace, a few residents are seekers of the faith. We were really happy and surprised when one resident asked for us to pray for her! So the team gathered around her and prayed for her immediately because we all knew what a big deal it was that she had asked to be prayed for. We could not let this opportunity pass.

On Friday afternoon we drove back to Morioka for an English Café at MBBC, which was mostly attended by university students. It was good to get the chance to interact with the youths. It was a blessed time of fellowship even though they spoke broken English and I spoke broken Japanese. Christian love and fellowship transcends all boundaries! I was glad to have been able to get to know some of them a little bit better.

 

As Saturday was our rest day, we took a day trip out to Hirosaki in Aomori prefecture to catch the sakuras at Hirosaki Castle Park. We were so fortunate to be in Japan during the cherry blossom season and since this was my first time seeing sakuras, I was really excited! On Sunday, we attended church at MBBC. The service was conducted in Japanese but we thank God for providing bilingual church members that were able to help us translate the sermon as it was being preached. We had a fellowship picnic that day so we could enjoy the cherry blossoms.

On Monday we stayed back in MBBC for another café, this time for people and families who moved to Morioka from Miyako. Some families decided to make the big move inland because they are afraid of living along the coast. Only two ladies turned up. We had hoped for more, but nevertheless it was still a blessed time of fellowship. On Monday afternoon, we drove 3.5 hours south to Ichinoseki and stayed at the 3.11 network base located in Senmaya. Here we worked with Emiko-san, a young lady who works and ministers to the residents in this part of Iwate.

 

On Tuesday we drove east to Kesennuma and took a ferry out to Oshima Island with Emiko. This island was hit 11 times by 14m high tsunami waves. We went to help at a family-run seaweed factory and also tried to minister to them. The lady boss told us about her tsunami experiences and told us how she found her daughter alive 3 days after the disaster. There were tears in her eyes as she spoke; it was almost as if the tsunami had happened yesterday. In the afternoon, we stopped at other tsunami stricken towns (Kesennuma, Rikuzentakata) on our way back to Morioka. As I stood there staring into the vast area of land all around me, I was overwhelmed with emotions because I was looking at what used to be a city. As we drove past buildings destroyed by the waves, everything suddenly felt very real. However hard we tried, there was no way we could ever fully understand the pain, suffering and trauma caused by this disaster. There really are no words to describe it. In certain towns, buildings and roads have been restored, but it doesn’t matter because the memories from that day are still alive in the people’s minds. The people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard are a testament to that. This is such a crucial moment. Right now, the people need to find strength and comfort. The need to know that there is a greater God that loves them and will never forsake them; and that in Him, they can find the will and the hope to live on. (To be continued…)


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Leader: Today: Volunteer. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Raphael Ng.

*Greetings from Bro Charles Scott-Pearson of The Protestant Alliance.

*A new kitchen cleaning roster is being prepared & more volunteers are URGENTLY required. If you can assist, please put your name on the list on the notice board in the foyer.

*Family Camp Media order forms are available on the foyer table.

*Maranatha B-P Church (S’pore) is organising a Reformation Study Tour to Germany, France & Switzerland, 8 - 20 November. For  details  please see any Session member.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Church activities,  in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Ebenezer B-P Church: Induction of Rev Mathews Abraham.

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing – Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Special Prayer: Mrs Janet Jara (Chile); Mrs Pat Johnson (W Virgina); Bro Tien Lee’s father (Penang); Bro XiHeng Wu (Jinan, China); Sisters Nita Chong & Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan).

3. God’s healing: Sis Wol Hee Kim & DaHee (S Korea). 

4. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry; Preacher Zhang & Ministry (Sihanoukville).

6. IBPFM: Board members & missionaries.

7. New Life BPC (London) - God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.

8. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

9. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

10. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

11. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Julie Tan’s daughter (Katrina), Josephine Wong &  Emily Zheng.

12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

13. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

14. Persecuted believers in Islamic & communist countries. This week: Saudi Arabia, Iran & China.

15. Protection & Preservation of Israel. Salvation of Jews.

16. God’s guidance: Sale of The Stone Mansion & future purchase of property for church.

17. Nepal earthquakes: comfort of survivals & those who lost their loved ones. Salvation of the Nepalese people.

18. Australia: God’s wisdom for our political leaders. People to repent and to turn to God.

19. Session Meeting this afternoon: God’s guidance.

 

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063