Sunday, March 27, 2011

A New Page of Mission—Diary of a pastor from the disaster area (Day 17, March 27)

This incredibly moving and powerful report is from Pastor Akira Sato, who is the pastor for the Fukushima First Baptist Church, near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The nuclear plant project manager, in charge of the repair efforts, is from this church. Here are a few excerpts. The full article is here.
  • March 13: Tomioka railway station has been washed away by the tsunami. The city was utterly destroyed. (See a map of the area here.)
  • March 13: The worst possible scenario would be that people would never be able to go back to their town and homes, and that the church would be closed down and the history of mission in this region would end. Please pray this wouldn't happen. Please pray that people would be able to come back to the city and church doors would be opened again and we can praise and worship the Lord there again. I do believe and confess that our almighty God and the Lord of the history who reigns everything including nature WILL open a new page of mission and lead us on. 
  • March 14: We have contacted 150 church members and they are safe. Hallelujah! One sister told me that waves approached her but she was able to swim to safety.
  • March 16: Our gypsy life has started. When I asked people whether they had any laundry, their reply was that there were no clothes to wash. All they have is what they are wearing. Nothing is clear to us - Will be able to go back home? If so, how long it will take? Will we ever be able to worship in our church again, or will the town simply be abandoned?
  • March 18: The most miraculous thing to me is that I never get asked questions like ‘Why did God allow this?’ or ‘I can’t believe in God. There is no God.’ From the 160 members I have been in touch with, all I hear are words like, ‘God is great. I want to trust Him as I walk with Him from now on.’ I marvel at the strength of their faith in the Lord. What is obvious is that God is shaking everything through these extraordinary events. Some people are receiving the Lord Jesus without question. Others are repenting saying their belief in God was dormant. 
  • March 19: I felt numb. My heart ached. Two or three layers of loss suddenly engulfed me. My home was gone, so was my church. I was driven from my town. My ministry is gone. I can’t see what is going to happen next. I am trying to grasp the whole thing, but find myself unable to.
  • March 19: My church was planted by an American missionary long before the power plant was built. Fukushima First (part of our church name) was the name given by the missionary in accordance with the practice of his church at home. The power plant has the same name, but ours was named first. 
  • March 21: I will cry 50 years worth, or a life-time worth of tears. Is. 42:3: ‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out‘ May the Great Shepherd embrace this flock and carry them on His wings.
  • March 23: I received good news today. Word of Life Press rang me to say that my book, ‘God is at work in good times, as well as bad times’ has been published. Who would have thought that a disaster of this scale would happen just at the time of its publication? It looks as if my own book will encourage me to move forward.

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