International Ministries

Earthquakes and memorials

January 25, 2010 Journal
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 I know that just as we have been doing here in Japan, you have been praying for the people and the nation of Haiti, as well as our missionaries there. The images are overwhelming, and our hearts go out to them.

At Nishi Okamoto Christ Church here in Japan, we were just finishing preparations for the 15th anniversary memorial services for the Great Hanshin Earthquake (over 6000 died) when we heard the news.  We know first hand that it will take many months and even years to heal some of the wounds, and so we will continue to pray for and support the people of Haiti.

I do believe the Lord brings healing.  In many ways it has come to the Nishi Okamoto Church. Though the devastation here was not like Haiti, the church lost several members as well as their pastor.  Now 15 years later they remembered with a concert by Miss Yuri Mori, a well known Japanese Christian singer.  Her brother, a college student at the time, was also a victim of the earthquake.  The concert was in the new church building and over 145 people, mostly from our neighborhood, came to remember and share with us and with one another.

The next day, Sunday Jan. 17th, we had a special worship service remembering those who died.  Many family and friends of those victims related to the church came to join us.  In fact we had 100 in morning worship, and almost half joined us up at the cemetery afterwards. It was a testimony to the healing and life that the Lord brings. So we pray for the church in Haiti as it ministers to the people in the neighborhoods and those who no longer have a neighborhood.  We know that it will be a long and difficult journey for many, but we also know the Lord does bring healing.

Building Dedication!

January 17th was also the day Nishi Okamoto Christ Church chose for its building dedication. Again it was meant to be a testimony to what the Lord has done in this small church.  A church that lost so much in an earthquake just 15 years ago was willing to step out in faith to build new facilities.  If they seem a little proud of their new building you would forgive them if you had ever been in their previous one.

They are now barrier-free, and have restrooms for both men and women.  The old kitchen was “2 is company and 3 is a crowd”, but no longer. The wind no longer blows through the sanctuary when the doors and windows are closed.

15 years ago many of the members lost their homes, some their neighbors, family and their pastor.  Today there is still pain from the loss, but the Lord has blessed them in ways I am sure they couldn’t have imagined at that time.  Thank you for your prayers for us and for the Lord’s church around the world.

Finally, it is also a challenging time for us in terms of financial support.  Pray with us that the Lord will open doors for support.

Grace and Peace,