Report on the Hong Kong Team to Iwate Prefecture, Japan, 9th – 22nd August 1012.
As we have had so many folk write and ask us how our mission trip to Japan went, we thought we would send a short report. Thank you SO much for praying! We look back and continually thank the Lord for the way we were all kept healthy and full of energy, in spite of the heat! (36 C one day!)
It truly was a privilege to work with the 6 members of the team sent from the Carmel Tai Yuen Church in Hong Kong. All of us were pretty apprehensive as to how we could possibly be a help to these people who had lost so much, but daily as we shared from God’s Word together, we were encouraged to do what we could now and trust the Lord for the eternal results.
We went several times to different temporary housing estates and offered free kebabs or a Chinese meal, hand massages, free literature and a craft for any kids who came. Most of the people left in the housing estates are older and they so appreciated the hand massages – asking for shoulder, leg, back and even feet massages too! We had many opportunities to hear their stories and to witness to the Lord as the situation allowed.
Inside the community rooms of the housing estates, we were not allowed to have any religious activities, but we sang some hymns and people sang with. We always had plenty of Christian literature which people took gladly, and the team had prepared little bead crosses with an explanation and bookmarks with Bible verses on them to give away. We were one of many teams who have been having a similar ministry during the year. We rejoice in knowing that these coastal towns that were so closed to the Gospel are now having opportunity to hear, read, meet Christians, and experience the love of Christ through the relief work. However, we heard one person say, “The government has given up on us. The only ones who keep coming back are the Christians and the Communists!” So we have some competition! May the love of Christ that compels His children outlast all other efforts!
OMF’s work is still mainly in the Relief phase, and much goodwill is being built. We were able to hand out $4000 worth of rice at some temporary housing areas. Each rice bag had a bookmark attached with a sticker from the Community Center that OMF has been able to erect as a drop-in center where people can meet and chat.
Praise the Lord for calling people to the ministry for the long term! Pastor and Mrs Takahashi have accepted the Lord’s call to move from Tokyo and give themselves for the planting of churches in the Touhoku area. They are starting in Kamaishi where OMF has opened a community center. Pray for them and for Mike and Rowena McGinty who have headed up the Iwate Relief project for the past year. There is so much to thank the Lord for, but much prayer is needed for the smooth shift from mainly relief work to more open church planting work in the near future.
So what are our impressions?
We think this picture sort of sums it up the challenge ahead.
In the midst of the ruins of the aftermath of the tsunami, a Shinto Shrine still stands. People don’t easily change just because they have experienced a disaster. It’s true for the most part they feel pretty hopeless – they have no work, and they have lost everything, but the roots of their religions go deep, and if we do not move in long-term with the Gospel, they may return to their roots stronger than ever. Pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send forth workers! Much literature has gone out – may it be used to soften the soil of precious hearts.
With love and prayers for you too,
Tony and Pat Schmidt