Next Wednesday is March 11, a sad commemoration of the devastation that shook Japan four years ago. As a result of the threefold disasters of 11/3/2011, profound uncertainty and mental struggle continue for countless people. The agony of all the losses cut deep into the lives of many people. The scars of suffering are still everywhere to be seen. It's even evident in the environment, according to new reports on radio-active pollution.
Thousands of people still live in temporary housing, and reconstruction is progressing at a slow pace. “The residents of disaster-stricken areas feel neglected by the rest of the country”, a lady from that area said in our church last Sunday. But for many – especially the few Christians (1%) in Japan – this crisis has become an opportunity to share the hope of the gospel in practical ways. Some people have come to realize anew that, although they were struck down, they were not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:9). The ministry of the churches has produced small beacons of hope. As a direct result of the disaster Christians’ presence has become more visible than ever before.
In the first months after the disaster Mission Japan’s supporters made huge contributions to the Disaster Fund. This made a concrete difference! The fund was used mainly to share with our brothers and sisters here in Japan our supporters’ care-outreach – Christians as well as non-Christians. Under the guidance of the Reformed Church in Japan (our partner for many years called the RCJ), and with other international support, two support centres were established.
One centre, named Sakura House, is coordinated by the RCJ Sendai East congregation. The other is known as Nozomi Center. In both centres a small band of volunteers still work daily side by side with residents of the local disaster areas. Their empathy with disaster victims’ hurt, frustration and loss, bring small bits of hope. They serve the people of the area by listening to stories of trauma over a meal, or by organizing camps and excursions, by helping with the establishment of vegetable gardens, and by helping the children with their school work etc. But they also become tired and despondent, therefore the support of Christians from all over the world remains of vital importance for their on-going involvement.