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‘Not done weeping yet,’ missionary in Japan says
Tess Rivers, Baptist Press
March 31, 2011

‘Not done weeping yet,’ missionary in Japan says

‘Not done weeping yet,’ missionary in Japan says
Tess Rivers, Baptist Press
March 31, 2011

ISHINOMAKI, Japan

— “Disaster” says it all.

Southern Baptist missionaries and volunteers finally distributed relief goods

in Ishinomaki, Japan,

this week after two weeks of attempting to gain access to the quake-stricken

areas. Power outages, gas rationing, an escalating nuclear crisis and relocation

of International Mission Board (IMB) personnel hampered earlier attempts.

Ishinomaki — a small city of around 120,000 people — was devastated March 11 by

the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Officials estimate that more

than 18,000 people died and thousands more are missing along Japan’s

northeastern coast.

The 11-member team spent two days distributing relief goods at multiple

locations throughout the city, including an apartment complex, a nursing home

and a bus station. Everywhere they went, they found grateful Japanese, eager

for someone to listen to their stories.

Residents of Ishinomaki, Japan, help the combined Southern Baptist and CRASH (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) team prepare staple food supplies for distribution.

International Mission Board missionary Jared Jones helped one man shovel debris

from his home. The day before, the man received a call from local officials to

identify his wife’s body. The man — a Buddhist — talked with Jones about how

his wife often encouraged him to read the Bible. The couple had been married 40

years.

“He just needed somebody to listen to him,” Jones said.

Missionary Ed Jordan had a similar experience. Jordan, who works with the deaf,

was distributing goods in a bus station when a colleague asked for help. One of

the victims was a deaf woman who was unable to communicate with the hearing

volunteers.

When Jordan

talked with her in sign language about her family and her home, the woman was

thrilled. “If she shook my hand once, she shook it a dozen times,” Jones said.

Both Jordan and Jones noticed uncommon openness from the Japanese during their

trip.

“They look you in the eye,” Jordan said. “They need somebody to talk to and

many are willing to let us pray with them. No one turned us away.”

On Saturday International Mission Board missionaries living in and relocated to

the Osaka area loaded a 2-ton truck

and three mini-vans with rice, vegetables, baby food, cleaning supplies and

other relief goods. Then they drove the nearly 600 miles from Osaka

to Ishinomaki.

The group was overwhelmed by the scope of the destruction that greeted them. A

large fishing boat leaned against a damaged power line in the middle of a city

street. Battered cars sat atop mounds of trash and debris. Black mud, the color

of crude oil, filled the streets and the ground floor of homes and businesses.

Members of a joint Southern Baptist and CRASH (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) relief team and the Be One Japanese house church network clean out mud left behind by the March 11 tsunami in Ishinomaki, Japan.

“This is not like any other disaster I’ve ever seen,” Jones said.

“There was a debris field everywhere you looked,” Jordan

agreed. “Cars were stacked on top of each other. One car had washed through the

plate glass window of a 7-11.”

As they make plans for future relief work in the quake area, the team asked for

prayer that they would have opportunities.

“Our biggest prayer is, ‘What can we do in the next few weeks to get

reorganized and get back up there?’” Jordan

said. “There is such great openness, and we want to be able to respond.”

Jones agreed, adding that the scenes and experiences from this trip will

continue to affect him.

“I’m not done weeping yet,” Jones said.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Rivers is a writer with the International Mission Board based

in Southeast Asia. The International Mission Board has

established a relief fund for the Japan earthquake. Donations may be sent to:

Office of Finance, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond,

VA 23230. In the memo line write “Japan Response Fund.” Or you can give online

by going to www.imb.org and

clicking on the “Japan response” button. For further information, call the IMB

toll-free at 1-800-999-3113. North Carolina Baptist Men is also collecting

funds to help with recovery efforts. Make check payable to N.C. Baptist Men,

P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate your check Japan Earthquake/Tsunami

Fund.)

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