Yoshiya Kondo, Masaki Sasaki and Kohei Koyama travelled to Johor Bahru, Malaysia to take part in the EP Co-Workers Retreat during 4th to 6th Sep, at the invitation of the English Presbytery (“EP”) of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore. The EP organized EP Japan Mission, or EPJM in short, to meet ministry needs post-disaster. This group has been our steady partner. They not only give over the course of an entire year, but asend teams almost every month. They also hold monthly prayer meetings in Singapore to remember the needs in Tohoku. At the retreat, we were given the opportunity to speak through two work shops about Iwate, both before and after the disaster, and also provide an update on the continuing ministry. We also had the chance to share about missions in Japan or about Iwate in general over meals and at fellowship times.
Although “The 3.11 Iwate Church Network” got going right after the Great East Japan Disaster, we only held our first face-to-face meeting with all the staff involved on 21 Jan 2012….10 months had already passed by that time since the Network was set up.
As 2016 draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for your prayers and for your support extended to us over the past year. Five years and nine months have past since the disaster happened. The lives of the people in the disaster-stricken communities continue to evolve in big ways. The way we work across our locations is also changing, as we attempt to adjust to these developments. The Kitasanriku area, which includes townships such as Iwaizumi, was badly affected by typhoon Lionrock that made landfall in Iwate prefecture this past August. Ps Dawn Birkner, one of our cooperating pastors and missionaries, continues the work she started immediately following this.
We want to thank all of you who continue to pray for the ministry of The 3.11 Iwate Church Network. This morning, at 5:59 a.m., there was an earthquake with its epicenter off the coast of Fukushima prefecture. Those of us in Iwate also felt the ground shake. With this, tsunami warnings were issued across the entire coastline (and in fact, tsunamis were observed). Trains stopped operating. So far, we have not received any information about any of our staff or cooperating churches, organizations having been negatively affected. All tsunami warnings issued have been lifted in the afternoon.
On the 11th of March, our staff spent their day at their respective locations. Some went about their usual support work, another went to see people in their kasetsu-s, some went to participate in local memorial events, while another may have had their own quiet times of prayer. Each did what they could at their own place as a neighbor in the community where they are. On the 8th of March (Sun), our own fourth 3.11 Memorial was held that afternoon. Around 130 people particpated. These were not just our staff, but people who came from other churches in Iwate, from beyond Iwate and even from overseas. We were reminded that each of these are people who have been sent by our Lord to be neighbors for those who need one, and that is where our hearts united. (con’t in Prayer Points)