Japan ERT BLOG (Page 1)
FFC’s ten member Emergency Relief Team spent a day and a half moving tons of frozen fish for this 81-year-old man’s family. Kenichi Takiguchi, pictured with John White, requested that his Buddha Shrine be moved before he left for the refugee camp. John asked him to read a Japanese Gospel tract. Later at the camp, he asked John to pray for his healing. His words through an interpreter: “I’ll be healed!” Please pray for Kenichi Takiguchi's healing and that he will know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Follow the team's updates on their blog page.
TEAM UPDATE 3
I'm behind on our updates and will now be working on today's (Day 4), but here is Day 3. We just had a really strong aftershock and lost power for a while. I don't know what it registered at, but it was the strongest I can ever remember experiencing, and lasted a really long time. Of course, we're on the third floor, so it was really moving up here. We've had many strong aftershocks since, but are now getting sort of used to it. All is well, though. Thanks for your prayers.
** NOTE: The aftershock registered at 7.1. **
DAY 3 UPDATE
This morning I actually woke up at 0530 wide awake and started on the last update.
John did devotions at 0700 and started in Rev. 3:7-8, “…these are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” These scriptures were spoken to the lady the other day who sort of gave us the cold shoulder at our orientation, when just minutes later, a more enthusiastic young lady entered the room announcing our destination and was busy arranging our transportation.
Our orientation also included some statements meant to limit our proclaiming the name of Jesus, but John felt strongly against this advice and discussed Acts 3 & 4. Peter and John had just healed a cripple man “…in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…” and created quite a stir amongst the people. They then preached to those who had gathered around about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of this the priest and Sadducees had them arrested and thrown in jail (however, many of those who listened became believers; about 5,000 men). When they were taken before the high priest the next day and questioned about this healing, Peter, filled of the Holy Spirit, let them have it. After stating that the cripple man was healed by “…the name of Jesus Christ…” he further stated, “…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Realizing that they had no grounds to imprison them, they released them with a stern warning not to mention the name of Jesus again. Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide, for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After they were released, they met up with fellow believers, told them what had happened, and prayed, “…grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage…”
John added a few more scriptures that I’ll write without comment: Eph 3:20, “Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory…” Col 4:2-4, “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should.” And lastly, Eph 6:19&20, “Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak – that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.”
Since today was Sunday, we participated in church services here. It truly lives up to it’s name of Global Mission Chapel, as there were representatives from: Switzerland, Brazil, Vietnam, Korea, Northern Ireland, Norway, Moldova, Peru, United States, Philipines, and even Japan. Worship is unique in this international environment, and maybe a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven.
This afternoon we took a drive to survey the tsunami damage in the towns of Toyoma and Hisanohama. The pastor knows of some needs in these areas and we might assist with salvage work here tomorrow. In the evening, we went to a school/shelter and helped the church provide a Korean BBQ dinner for the displaced families living there. Although we never did any ‘relief work’ today, we didn’t get home until about 9:00, and were tired enough to simple hit the sack. This church is very active in the area assisting the needy and their pastor is involved every step of the way. Tomorrow should be our first day of real work.
PS. Pat Stilson took this picture and entitled it "Why we are here!"
TEAM UPDATE 1 & 2
Day 1 and Day 2 update
This is technically the morning of our third day, but the first day with WiFi and enough time to sit down and do an update. The flight over here was 12 hours and we lost 16 hours in time zones, so we actually lost a day getting over here. We left on Thursday about 1:00 pm and arrived Friday at about 5:00 pm.
Our first day, the nine U.S. guys met at F.S. 5 at 0730, distributed supplies, repacked our baggage so as not to exceed the 50# max, and loaded gear for the shuttle off to LAX. All went well. Since we need to be mobile on our arrival, each member has a 50# backpack, one daypack, and another 50# duffle bag to carry between two people. It’s a lot, but we can get around on foot O.K. Japan Air Lines upgraded our coach seats to business class…it was NICE! There were two other classes of travel above ours that were unbelievable, but our seats and service were better than any I have ever experienced before. We had two hot meals that tasted great and were actually filling, comfortable seats with legroom, and how could you possibly fly without a pair of slippers? JAL stewardesses were very gracious throughout and presented us with gifts upon our departure thanking us for coming to help.
The striking contrast in culture was evident from the very beginning of this trip. We left LAX, with the typical TSA employee yelling at everyone to present your passport so he could see your photo without having to open it up. If a Japanese traveler didn’t understand English, he just yelled louder, as if that magically translated his rudeness into something they could understand. Here, in Japan, they are much more patient and processed us through immigration in spite of our ‘English only’ expectations.
We took a shuttle to our hotel, checked in, and went back to the airport with the intent of meeting Mark Smyth, our brother from Northern Ireland. He arrived early and we went to the wrong terminal, so we ended up wasting time literally going in circles following him back to the hotel in a different shuttle. This was a subtle reminder to go to the Lord in prayer. Up to this point, we had been so busy packing, loading, and just plain moving forward, we really hadn’t spent time in prayer. We were reminded of the importance of prayer and took it to heart.
We awoke early the next morning and had devotions at 0530. Jim led and started off in Psalms 37:3-7. I’ll paraphrase a bit… “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” He also covered Psalm 51:10, which is the start of one of my favorite worship songs, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Jim finished with 2 Thes. 2:16 and 17, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.”
We had an outstanding breakfast at the hotel (another big plus regarding the Japanese culture) and at 0730 took a shuttle bus to the train station. This was an experience. We had directions from an email, but not all the signs/schedules for trains have English subtitles, and we had to take four different trains to get to our destination. One Japanese university student helped us get off on the right stop to make our first transfer. Then, this Japanese lady who didn’t speak English saw us in need and led us to the right train; up and down stairs, and through various corridors. At our last transfer station, an American brother who grew up in Japan, the son of a missionary couple, saw us in need of directions, and assisted with tickets and brought us literally to the doorstep of the building that CRASH headquarters was using. This was about three hours of travel via train and by foot.
We had an orientation meeting at CRASH that was less than welcoming. The lady assigned to do orientation for volunteer groups wasn’t quite sure to do with a bunch of firefighters, since there weren’t any fires to fight. She basically told us that we did our job by just showing up, but not to have any pre-conceived expectations from here on out. She left the room for a bit, and we proceeded to pray. Someone entered the room later during our cultural orientation and stated that we had a destination and that travel plans were being worked out. We would be heading to Iwaki, about 30 kilometers south of the power plant and stay at a church called Global Mission Chapel. (For those who care to Google map it, we are now located at N 37 degrees 03.160 minutes, E 140 degrees 53.090 minutes)
A couple interesting facts arose during orientation. Japan has a Christian population approximately one half of one percent. They say in Japan, “You are born Shinto, die Buddist, and have a Christian wedding in the middle.” We learned many other phrases and cultural expectations. Basically, they are a VERY formal culture and proud people.
We eventually made our way to Iwaki via a truck, two vans, and drivers provided by CRASH. It was about a 3 ½ drive. We unloaded gear, moved in upstairs, and met the pastor. He is a very nice man, fluent in English, and doubles as the main pastor and music leader. Following dinner, we participated in a worship time with other volunteers being housed in his home/church. The building is a recently purchased three story structure, with the first floor planned on being the main chapel, however, the first floor is currently being used as a food and supply warehouse, since this church has been supplying many meals and needed supplies to the many displaced people from the tsunami. The second floor is the main floor with kitchen, family room, office, and other rooms. We are staying in the “upper room” on the third floor.
In order to provide a level of comfort for those of you concerned with the radiation hazard here, we are currently experiencing radiation levels that are consistent with normal background levels found at home. We’ve experienced nothing out of the ordinary. We have Miniradiacs that monitor both dose rate and accumulated dose of radiation. Monitors are on and all members are safe. Our actual tasks have still not been identified, but our main mission is to support this church, as it represents Christ to this community.
Keep us in prayer and we’ll keep you informed.
John White took this picture at Nippon Station as the team waited for their train. Lt to rt: Jim Haney, Jeff Muis, Pat Stilson, Mark Smyth, Dan Rodriguez, Bob Ameche, Mark Thompson, Rich Lookabaugh, Luis Carlos.
April 8th: From a text message, we know that the team arrived at one of CRASH's base camps and were headed by van to an area 40 km from the reactors. They will work with a local pastor and hopefully firefighters in the area. At their early morning devotion they were encouraged by Psalm 45. Thank you for all your prayers!
The team (from the US) arrived safely in Japan and got to their hotel at roughly 3:00 this morning. Mark Smyth from N. Ireland was expected to arrive about 3 hours later and will link up with the team at the hotel. We will update you when we receive further information as they are now sleeping.
As you pray for the team, please pray in accordance with Colossians 4:2-6 for the entire team. We are asking the Lord that He would open a door to the message and that each team member would be able to proclaim clearly the mystery of Christ to everyone they encounter - from victims of the earthquake, to city officials, to other volunteers and medical workers that they will meet and work with, and that the light and hope found only in Christ would radiate from the team as they minister in His name.
We thank Jesus for your partnership in the gospel! (Phil 1:5)
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Don't forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about His secret plan—that Christ is also for you Gentiles. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone." Colossians 4:2-5
Japan's time is 16 hours ahead of PST and the team will be leaving shortly for CRASH's Base Camp in Higashi Kurme and then possibly on to Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Thank you for praying!!