At present, the conditions in Japan are dire, and even for those who have survived the 8.9 earthquake and the tsunami, danger is still eminent, with the threat of a nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.
The closest airport to Sendai is Misawa, which normally serves both civilian and military flights. Presently, however, only military air traffic is permitted there.
We are working on a plan with local Foursquare ministers to gather at Misawa, where there is a Foursquare congregation. There, supplies will be purchased and driven down to Sendai to bring aid to the people in that hardest-hit area. We are waiting to obtain permission to travel before we are able to move forward. Our hope is to be able to initially equip and encourage the local churches in Sendai, where there is only one Christian church for every 17,000 people.
Japan National Leader Rev. Shigeki Sato shared: ”The safety and wellbeing of the last two ministers and congregations who were unaccounted for, a Japanese congregation in Fukushima and an Indonesian congregation that was in Oarai Town, have been confirmed. The Fukushima congregation has no electricity, and the Oarai congregation had to flee inland to Oyama City and are not able to return to their homes because of damage to infrastructure and homes.”
We heard from Foursquare missionary Steve Niksarian, whose church and home are in Sendai, one of the cities closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. He told us today that they are largely without power and running water in the north, but are able to get rationed amounts of food and water from nearby public schools and the city office.
Despite being only about 75 kilometers from the epicenter, he says that no buildings have been destroyed in his neighborhood. Steve has not been able to travel down south, as roads are closed and there is no gasoline for sale. Without power, he has no access to information and does not know the details of what has happened in the area.
Steve said, “I believe God uses everything in our experience.” He could see that having experienced a 6.8 earthquake in Los Angeles helped prepare him for this event. When the 9.0 earthquake struck, he had just finished teaching an English class across the street from where an elderly couple lives.
The wife, now 82, was the first convert he baptized nearly 10 years ago. Steve was able to run across the street and comfort them. His church had services yesterday, just two days after the earthquake, with a fresh sense of God’s grace and mercy as they worshiped together. They have been able to confirm this morning that everyone in their church family is alive and well.
When the earthquake hit, it was snowing in Sendai. It continues to be very cold, and power has not yet been restored to the area. There is ongoing concern for the people in the south side, who have no shelter and little heat or food. Japan has long practiced a “just in time” delivery service in its stores and businesses, trying to have just enough inventory on hand to sell without incurring extra cost for storage space. Now that the supply chain has been disrupted, they are experiencing acute shortages in various areas from Tokyo to Hokkaido.
Steve asks us to “pray against a spirit of fear.” He says that, while he is surprised at his own faith and courage, he sees fear in many people. While the aftershocks have gradually fallen off in magnitude and frequency, people are constantly afraid that, with each new rumbling, another large earthquake is on its way.
Please pray for vision, wisdom and favor for both Foursquare believers and all other Christians living in the areas affected. We are believing that “worldwide and interdenominational evangelism” will take place and result in the salvation of millions in the days to come.
Pray also for U.S. churches that, together, we will find ways to partner, equip, encourage and evangelize the people of Japan during this difficult time. May the fruits of our labor during the stages of relief, recovery and redevelopment be the creation of growing, healthy, loving and influential congregations throughout Japan.
More on Japan:
- Updates regarding the Japan earthquake
- An open letter from FMI Director Jim C. Scott
- Donate to efforts in Japan
Corey* is an area missionary to Japan; his last name has been withheld for security reasons.