“We had no idea the water would come up this far!” That was the exclamation I heard repeatedly during my visit to Japan this past March. Having served as a missionary in Japan for 25 years, I was compelled to return and participate in the relief efforts in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami there.
The Lord allowed me to work with a team that delivered supplies and did “heart care” for newly homeless and/or jobless people in Minami Sanriku. In this small, unchurched town, the tsunami killed many and reduced to rubble—or washed out to sea—almost every home and business situated less than 100 feet above sea level.
The leader of the evacuation shelter, located in the town’s high school gym, invited me and a team member to stay overnight and interact with the center’s 200 residents. This gave us the opportunity to talk with people like:
Mr. Sato, whose sister had been a patient on the fourth floor of the town’s hospital and, like all the others who did not make it to the fifth floor or roof, perished
Mrs. Honda, who, having lost relatives, could not share her anguish with other victims because her husband worked for the regional government and she feared their backlash: “at least your husband has a job and income!”
Mrs. Sugawara, who jumped in her car and headed for “high” ground when she heard the warning sirens, only to watch the seas engulf her parked car and escape by clambering up a nearby hillside
The Lord allowed us to listen, comfort, and pray with these victims. Moreover, we had the privilege of connecting the evacuation center leader and residents with a Japanese church that can work to follow-up with their physical and spiritual needs.
It is a very crucial time in this part of Japan. As people relocate, rebuild, and recover, there are unprecedented opportunities for the church to show Christ’s love in concrete ways and to plant new communities of faith where they have been few and far between.
Grateful for your prayers and partnership, CRM resolves to work with our long-standing network of Japanese churches and leaders to help make Christ known, loved, and served in the aftermath of this disaster.