June 20, 2011
Northern Japan Hope Concert
Bokhsillas’ as we are called (Boshi means Pastor), arrived in Sendai after flying to Tokyo from Okinawa, and a 2 hour bullet train ride. June 6th, we reached our base camp (Morigo Camp of Japan Baptist Union) around 10pm where we were met with a dozen of German seminary students who had come all the way from Germany to volunteer in cleaning the mud from houses, reconstructing some houses.
June 7th, we went to South Sanriku where tsunami completely destroyed the whole city. More than a thousand residents perished on the fateful day. Walking on the debris was so painful that we could hardly believe imagining how terrible it must have been. After an hour at ‘ground zero’ we headed back to the camp for briefing/meeting.
June 8th, we started off the ‘Hope Concert’ by singing in one of the community centre, at ‘Seaside Chapel’ a Cafe that has become the center point of those members whose church was swept away by the tsunami. Pastor Naito is using the Cafe to reach out to those affected people. We had 20 first timers come to the Cafe.
June 9th, we headed off to another community center for an afternoon concert. We were informed that most evacuees have left for the government shelters. There were about 40-50 people who attended the concert. most of the attendees were 50 years and above. Some said they lost their family members besides losing their homes. Pastor Otomo of Shiogama Baptist Church gave us the green signal assuming the evacuees were ready to accept we were Christians and we had come to tell them of the hope of Christ. We were surprised and thankful to God the evacuees wanted the Bibles as they received home baked cookies etc.
Pastor Makito Matsuda of Rifu Baptist Church, who also leads Oasis Life Care center said the most difficult ministry to the evacuees is the ‘gap’ between the affected and the normal lives of the people. The feeling of hopelessness is insurmountable and the distance to relate to this lostness cannot be bridged by human understanding. Only God can fill the void. “Gap” says Pastor Makito Matsuda, is one of the biggest enemy now since the earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku region on March 11, 2011 but he is positive in the fact that some of his members came to the Lord after they had experienced earthquakes in the past.
Continue to pray for Northern Japan as they struggle to re-start their lives. Pray for Baptists as they offer comfort, support through the church ministry.