Japan Disaster
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Tragedy brought them to a deeper level of ministry

Pray for NepalNepal (MNN) — Nepal just marked the second anniversary of devastating twin earthquakes that killed 9,000 people and made a million others homeless. The government has been criticized for the slow pace of rebuilding, and did not officially hold any commemorative events April 25th. However, survivors held memorial services in Kathmandu and other parts of the country. Although it has faded off front page news, the reality is that Nepal is still in tatters. Less than one-fifth of the destroyed homes have been rebuilt. Asian Access, a ministry that helps train, develop, and network church leaders, had already started connecting believers to help respond to the quake needs. It was a unique moment for these Christians. Perhaps what makes this more interesting is how the Japanese Church lived out... 

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highest watermark during Tsunami of March 2011This day will be a day I never forget. Six years ago, in just a few short hours from right now, I was in Karuizawa, Japan for our annual Japan Staff Spring Retreat. It was a wonderful time together with our Asian Access/Japan family as always and as we were in chapel that afternoon, the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced hit: over 9 points on the Richter Scale. Even though it was centered several miles off the coast of Japan and many miles further from my location, it was still the single longest and strongest quake I had ever lived through. And, I’ve lived through some pretty strong quakes living most of my life in Los Angeles.

This morning as I awoke, I was reminded of being here in Japan that horrible day. Silk and I were in Japan and our thoughts went to many of the pastors and churches we know in the heaviest hit regions plus staff we have all over the country who were unable to make the retreat. We also were thinking of our children and families back home and what might happen to us.

As you know it was a devastating quake that triggered a massive tsunami that wreaked havoc on the shorelines of Northeast Japan. They call it a triple disaster because the...

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As recovery stagnates, Gospel growth booms

Damage left by the 2011 tsunami. (Photo cred: Tamaki Seto via Wikimedia Commons)Japan (MNN) — Broken remnants and barricades remain six years after Japan’s deadly ‘triple disaster’. “There are still tens of thousands of people in temporary housing…. That place (near the Fukushima nuclear facility) was so devastated that the local people cannot afford to go back into their homes and rebuild them,” says Joe Handley of Asian Access. Worse yet, the Japanese government is ending housing subsidies for some Fukushima residents. Financial aid will end this month for “those who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones,” according to Japan Today. Yet. Handley found hope during a recent...

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brokenness beauty signNozomi のぞみ = Hope

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the Nozomi Project and wow, I didn’t expect how powerfully God would move in my own life. As we were sharing together I heard the amazing story shared in this video about an autistic boy: https://vimeo.com/164225374 Thing is, I didn’t expect it to hit me personally. You see, I have an autistic sister so I shared a lot in common with the family in the video. As you’ll see in the story, the mom was encouraged through the Nozomi team, and particularly by my colleague Sue Takamoto, that her son’s life has purpose and meaning. That led me to share part of my own journey growing up with my sister. You see, I’m not naturally a very compassionate person but growing up with my sister, there were times where...

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joe and nakamurasPastor Yoji Nakamura, who leads the Kyushu Christ Disaster Relief Center in Kumamoto, is an amazing pastor. You can learn more about him in this post from last fall: Mr. Christ… Christ, Christ, Christ! I had the privilege of spending a few days with him in Kumamoto following up on the earthquake that hit the region about nine months ago. He was so inspiring and as he shared in church that morning before I preached, he told the congregation another amazing story that brought tears to all of our eyes!  As they’ve led the relief efforts, they have tried to adopt people from the disaster areas who live in temporary housing and Pastor Yoji adopted a little girl who has been particularly challenging to work alongside. Most people avoid the child because she’s so oppositional. But, Yoji just...

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Kent and Yuko Muhling 2015Being with Kent and Yuko Muhling last week in Sendai inspired me. They are trying so many different ways to reach out to their neighbors, I was deeply impressed. You would be proud of them! One story in particular captured my imagination. They shared about a man who has been watching the Christian relief teams not far from Sendai City. He lived through the disaster and has seen the relief teams come and go. But, he was particularly inspired by the ongoing efforts of the local churches, missionaries, and believers from all over the world who keep coming and serving. As he thought about these people and what they were doing, he watched them very closely. He noticed that despite all the trials they suffered in serving, all the challenges they face on a daily basis and even the difficult circumstances through... 

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joe with nakamura senseiHow would you like your church to be called “Mr. Christ”?

That’s what people are calling the Church in action in Kumamoto, Japan following the devastating disaster that occurred earlier this year. As the collective Church sprung up and has been serving the community, people have not seen them as cults or different denominations but rather simply by the name of Jesus. How cool is that! Pastor Yoji Nakamura shared this week at Asian Access Japan National Conference his journey of living through the disaster. His story extends way back though, starting with the Kobe quake through the Tohoku quake of 2011 and then this past year in his city, Kumamoto. 

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“When we do mission, we need one heart. So we can do it together.”

These two sentences best sum up our commitment to live and work in community. Pastor Yukimasa Otomo shared this with me to describe his partnership with A2 missionaries Robert and Roberta Adair. The partnership between Japanese pastors and A2 missionaries is deep. As Yukimasa Sensei added, “Having Robert [here] is good for me, because I can share my heart.” Robert was excited to partner with this pastor, too...

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