Here is a firsthand account of what’s happening in Japan by one of our JBU family – Ayako Kawasaki, a Japanese pastor’s wife there who also launched a website (JBU Japan) and is a dear friend of JBU. Please read her blog prayerfully and remember her regularly and those suffering in Japan in your prayers.
~ Jill Briscoe
Dear Sisters in Christ,
Two months have passed since the strongest earthquake hit of 11. Thank you for your concerns and prayers for Japan during these difficult days. I don’t know how many times I have been weeping from both sorrow and joy...hearing orphans' voices, experiencing scary aftershocks, reading testimonies from churches, seeing how people are helping each other, and sensing God’s hands at work here.
As you may know, the situation is still unstable especially around the Fukushima nuclear plants. Radiation has leaked to some extent from the plant. In Tokyo, vegetables and water were polluted by such substances. Farmers had to stop shipping them and infants had to avoid drinking Tokyo water, which is usually safe for them. There are over 10,000 dead and nearly 20,000 still missing.
Please pray for the elderly and the handicapped and for the people from abroad who can’t understand Japanese well. Sometimes it’s inconvenient for them to get information and supplies. Please pray that we can also help and provide for their needs.
Many people are staying at shelters. Members of Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church, nearest to the nuclear plant, had to evacuate more than 30 km from their hometown, without carrying anything with them.
They don’t know when or if they will be back and whether the church will be opened again. But there is good news. Since the quake, some of the members’ families have accepted Jesus Christ. One new believer has worked at the nuclear plant and he is still working at that dangerous place. Thank God that He has provided all the needs of the members of that church so far.
Some local governments have offered housing for the victims. For example, Osaka Prefecture has prepared 10,000 rooms (most of them are public apartments), so that people can move and begin new lives. Churches and volunteers are also offering rooms to stay, but the victims are not always open to the idea.
One of the reasons is because they don’t want to leave their communities. In the Tohoku area, the community is really strong. A community leader even said, “Once you forsake your community to go somewhere, you will never be accepted as our friend.”
Another reason is that their families are still missing. In traditional Japanese custom, the body/bones are very important. People believe that the dead have to be cautiously buried in tombs, otherwise he/ she will have pain or lose ways to enter heaven. Without funerals and regular ceremonies, they feel that their loved ones will continue suffering forever. This is why the Japanese never give up looking for the missing after many days of accidents and disasters. In Japanese religious customs it’s not just for their memorials, but also for the sake of the missing themselves.
Please pray that the survivors are comforted even if they won’t be able to find their missing loved ones. They are struggling with guilt. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS) seems to be spreading among many Japanese. They are not the only victims, the rescue workers and ordinary people who were shocked to watch the Tsunami and the devastated scenes on TV are also experiencing this. Here in the Kansai area, many are experiencing flashbacks of the Kobe earthquake (1995).
I think suicide will be a more serious problem, too. Even last year, over 30,000 committed suicide in this country. When people lose hope for the future, followed by depression, tiny things trigger suicides. So you can imagine how dangerous this situation is.
Recently a farmer in Tohoku killed himself because he had no hope to ship vegetables to the markets again. Please pray that people will continue to have hope to survive. Pray that they will know that Jesus loves them so much and they are of great worth in His eyes.
Christian networks have worked well. We are getting lots of information from them. Many supplies and donations have been sent through such networks. Each of the churches and Christian organizations respect one another and are cooperating well. I believe that this will lead to revival in Japan. There has never been such a time in Japan where so many Christians all over the world have focused on praying for the Tohoku area. Jesus is weeping with us, and He will never forsake us.
“...Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Rom 5:5).”
PLEASE continue to pray for the church in Japan as they deal with this tragedy, pray for Aayko, her family and their ministry to the hurting, and for all of the men, women, boys, and girls have been touched by this terrible event. Pray that God would bring glory out of the ashes and that many would come to His saving love as a result of this tragedy.