Hearing the stories
Once thriving community
So what exactly does a place that was clobbered with not one but up to seven tsunamis, a major earthquake and several aftershocks, and a nuclear meltdown resulting in major radiation leaks look like? I will be honest! In my recent visit there, I was preparing myself for the worst! I had worked in southern Thailand after the Asian tsunami and knew what to expect. Amazingly, I was pleasantly surprised! In my tour of the disaster area in Japan, while there were surely places that had not yet been touched, for the most part, in these six months plus after the disaster, things looked like they were almost back to normal.
Then, I was able to look behind the scenes and began to hear the stories. I met pastors who has to live up to very high expectations being a pastor in normal circumstances has now taken on the role of caring for his flock and the wider community in the location of his/her church. Managing the clean-up over this 1/2 year is one thing but now the real work begins. People who lost literally veering find themselves traumatized and unable to see any future for themselves. Courses like pastoral counseling are generally not part of the curriculum of seminaries in Japan so pastors and lay people find themselves totally unequipped to handle the psychological and emotional effects that are really starting to set in.
Also, if people want to rebuild, depending on the location of their home or business before the disasters, they cannot get government approval to rebuild on the same foundation. Then comes the issue of having funds to buy the materials followed by the accessibility of construction workers as there are too few for the demand.
Add to this the constant threat of radiation from the nuclear meltdown. Most Japanese, I learned, do not trust the government's testing and reporting of the everyday situation and they do not know what to do or ever whether the food they are eating is safe.
The situation in Japan continues to be VERY serious! It will take years to recover. But we got a start. I was able to attend a disaster tour and a round table meeting organized by The Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (APBF) in September. In addition to leaders from APBF, International Ministries, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Southern Baptists, the Japan Baptist Union (IM's partner convention in Japan) and the Japan Baptist Convention (originally related to the SBC) came together in Tokyo to share what has happened, how God has blessed, what the needs are going forward, and how we can cooperate together to enable healing and restoration to happen. There is a long road ahead. Your continued prayer and financial support through OGHS is and will be needed. The land of the rising sun is seeing daylight once again!