Asian Access reports to donors on some key Japan disaster relief projects it has supported over the last two years. Discover our grid for deciding on projects. Learn what has been happening. Hear from people and churches involved in these projects in all three hard-hit prefectures (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima). Be encouraged. Above all, keep praying; the story is not over.
April 12 is the opening day for the movie “42: The True Story of an American Hero” — the story of the legendary Jackie Robinson. What most people don’t know about Jackie is that he was a strong Christian man. While “42” is not a Christian movie per se, throughout the film Jackie’s turn-the-other-check attitude mirrored Christlikeness. Also, if you’re curious here’s the amazing back story about God’s hand in the historic signing of Robinson by the legendary Branch Rickey (a strong Christian man).
Is faith in Jesus just a ticket to heaven or is does it mean something more for this life too? Skye Jethani says that our goal should not limited to just having a good place to go when we die, but a life of discipleship – letting Jesus transform everything we do in the here and now.
Mark Whitacre is an Ivy League Ph.D. and the highest-ranked executive of any Fortune 500 company to become a whistle-blower in US history, and is responsible for uncovering the ADM price-fixing scandal in the early 1990’s. His undercover work with the FBI during the ADM scandal was the inspiration for the major motion picture, “The Informant,” starring Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre. Watch as Mark describes how he became involved in price-fixing with ADM and becoming an informant for the FBI to expose his fellow executives:
Yesterday I visited All Nations Church, a body of believers in Nagoya, that was planted by Christ Bible Seminary. Michael Oh spoke on Psalm 46, and the difference it makes to know that God is with us in our times of need. It was an appropriate selection for what I have seen this week:
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Here is a clip of worship at ANC. If you discount the use of Japanese language, the style and content of the worship is very close to that of most any evangelical church in the US.
Our host with Grace Mission Tohoku was Rimpei Kozawa, a former executive with his family’s construction firm, but who came to Ishinomaki immediately after the disaster. Rimpei became a follower of Jesus when his wife began to hold bible studies in his apartment. At first he avoided coming home on those nights, but then reluctantly decided to investigate what his wife was finding so life-changing. The bible study leader shared the good news of forgiveness with him and his life has not been the same. Rimpei spent some of his teenage years in Michigan, and speaks excellent English.
On Wednesday, Rimpei took us to see the town of Minami-Sanriku, which was one of the most devastated towns by the tsunami. The areas where the town existed has now been cleared of rubble with the exception of a toppled office building that is being left for further study. I think everyone on our team was affected by seeing the extent of this devastation up close.
Rimpei’s heart for the fishing community in Ishinomaki was very evident. He took us to see the fish market and a seafood processing factory, where he was recognized and greeted as a friend by several of the fishermen. On Thursday, Rimpei took us to a fishing village where he has been asked to provide storage facilities for their nets and floats, which are otherwise damaged by exposure to the sun.
Yesterday we arrived Ishinomaki and we were put to work in the mud teams to repair homes in the tsunami stricken area. The home we were working in was very clean and our job was to remove the floorboards and drywall so that carpenters can come in and put in a new drywall and new flooring.
We worked with a team from Texas who has been here for over a week. Their team included teens who raised all their support. It was great to see the body of Christ come together to serve God in Japan.
Today we visited the Ishinomaki fish market and visited some local fish processing business. More on that tomorrow.
Today we traveled to Sendai in northeast Japan (Tohoku). Sendai is a bustling city that seems to be thriving. We did a bit of sight-seeing and visited the former site of Sendai Castle. A historical figure who is quite popular hear is Masamune Date, a 16th century samurai Lord who as initially friendly towards Christians. He is known for his distictive swoop above his helmet.
Yesterday was our first day in Japan and a very busy day in Tokyo. First we attended a chapel service at the New Otani Hotel and met with Bob Holmes and Andy Ichimura, who together founded the International VIP Club ministry. VIP is a ministry the provides Christian outreach the Japanese and international business community. The chapel service was in English with Japanese translation. Afterward, we discussed ideas for future collaboration and had lunch at the hotel.
Next we went to the Ginza district – kind of the Rodeo Drive of Tokyo – where we attended Grace City Church. This church is associated with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and is targeting young urban professionals. The service was in Japanese with simultaneous translation to English via wireless audio. We met Senior Paster Makoto Fukuda and made arrangements to have lunch with them when we return to Tokyo on Friday.
Here are some “man on the street” interviews with our team members from Ginza.