by Kent Muhling
It's good to be up here in Touhoku again! Much has changed; much has not. Gasoline is no longer a problem -- stations are open, no long lines. The highways are open tot all now, not just emergency vehicles. Electricity has been restored in many places, most stores have reopened, and Sendai city no longer looks like a ghost town. Slowly life is returning to normal -- for some.
For others, though, little has changed. There are still some places without electricity or running water, there are still people living in houses where the first floor was destroyed, and there are still many living in evacuation centers, with nowhere to go.
Another A2 missionary Erik Boehme and I met up with his friends from a Japanese-speaking church in Oregon, and joined them in their deliveries of relief goods. They were with a young man from a local ministry, who had a large truck at his disposal and who knows the area quite well. He took us to several evacuation centers and places where little pockets of houses yet remain in damages areas.
Their method has been to open up the truck and set up a little street-side bazaar, so people could come and take whatever they needed.
Toward the end I got to talk with a woman and told her we were Christians. She in turn told us that she had gone to a Christian kindergarten as a child and had been given a Bible, which she still had, though she had not seen it in a long time -- that is, not until the earthquake hit!
Some time after the earthquake was over, she opened the doors of one of her storage shelves, which of course were a shambles. When she opened them, the fist thing she saw was her old Bible, which had tumbled out of place and was sticking out right in front of her. Not long after that she met us. She somehow wondered if it meant anything.
I then asked her if she thought it was merely a coincidence, then told her that we Christians don't usually talk about coincidence, since we know that God is in control of everything He has made. I said I thought it was no coincidence, but God's leading -- and she agreed that it probably was!
I then asked if I could pray for her, and she readily agreed. Again, as in past opportunities, she had tears in her eyes when we were finished, and she could not bow often enough to us in gratitude.
Finally we said that since God had brought her Bible out where she could see it, she should read it!
Please pray for Mrs. O, that she would really read her Bible and that God would speak to her though it.
Then today I witnessed another incredible moment. The other car with the Oregon team suddenly stopped on the roadside and they got out. There was an older gentleman there with a teenage girl. I later found out that Kenji, the team leader from Oregon, had a kind of vision or dream about an older man, bald, wearing a dark jacket, standing amid the wreckage. And the town of Minami Sanriku came to his mind. He felt that God as telling him to find that man.
Well, as they were driving by that man took off his hat, and when they saw his bald head and realized he was wearing a dark brown jacket, they immediately stopped. He was looking through the wreckage for anything he could salvage -- oh, and did I mention that we were in Minami Sanriku that afternoon?
You can imagine how excited the team was to stop and help him! They gave him some warmer clothes, one of the bicycles they had bought, some food, and the message that Jesus loved him and had chosen him to be blessed by their help.
When one considers the magnitude of the disaster, handing out a truckful of supplies to only a few dozen people, having a five-minute conversation and a short prayer with one woman, or giving a man a coat, a bicycle, and sharing that "Jesus loves you" may not seem like much. But to those few individuals it had great impact.
I was reminded of the parable of the mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32). From very small beginnings big things will grow. God does not ask me to change the world, or meet the needs of masses of people. He asks me to love my neighbor -- singular, neighbor -- and so we are trying to do that, often one neighbor at a time. Whomever God places in our path as we go, whomever He allows us to find as we search.
If all God's people do that, we will change the world.
There is more to write, but I'll stop here for the night. Tomorrow will be another long day, but I'm excited to be going back to the evacuation center where I stayed the night.
Thank you for your continued prayers for Erik and me, for our families, and especially for the people in the Touhoku region of Japan.
Love in Christ,