Note: This post is from pastor Yutaka Takarada who is currently in Japan ministering alongside Texas Baptist Men volunteers in the wake of the recent tragedy. Takarada pastors the Japanese Baptist Church of North Texas. To support the ongoing ministry efforts of Texas Baptists, click here.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
A tsunami warning was on TV this morning and some of you asked if we were OK. Yes, we are all fine, but it is wonderful to know that our work in Japan is remembered by many people back in Texas.
This morning, we went to the Japan Baptist Convention office to visit with Rev. Kato. When we arrived at the office, staff members were still having morning service together with a church’s pastor’s wife evacuated from Fukushima because of the nuclear power plant, so we had a chance to introduce ourselves to all the people gathered there. After the service, we had a private conversation with Rev. Kato sharing information that we had. In the meeting, Rev. Kato mentioned one thing that we should keep in our minds: they are thinking that it will be a long and sort of tedious work that might last five years or more. So, the convention is hoping to appoint an on-site director soon, so they could get more accurate information. For this position to be set up in Sendai, he thinks, will require around $75,000 per year. However, this is very important strategically to create soon. Today a Japanese pastor from Atlanta is in this service for the first two weeks and another one will take over after him for 10 days but no other people are assigned after him. So, Texas Baptist Men and BGCT, this is my own thinking, if it is possible, we should partner on this effort by providing money for it as much as we can. This will be beneficial and helpful for those who will be dispatched from Texas in the future.
John [LaNoue] emphasized in the meeting that we are not the leading group of the project of whatever the JBC is considering to do, but we are a supportive group that we will support the work of the JBC from the back, and Rev. Kato was very much appreciative toward such attitude.
In the afternoon, we went to the American embassy and the Japanese Red Cross headquarters for the American embassy was to register our works in Japan. After the American embassy, we went to the Japanese Red Cross Headquarters. Even though we came to their office without making appointment, Mr. Mutsuhiko Osaki, the director of planning and public relations office willingly took his time for us. Prior to this meeting, Dr. John La Noue mentioned to me that it is important to let those people know that we are here to find the way to cooperate with groups that are operating similar work at the site. So, when I mentioned it to him, he was so thankful and willing to take time for us in the midst of such busy situation. It was truly the wisdom of experiences that what John taught me and this words seemed like broke off the ice that this director might have had at the beginning. He became so open and provided us all information more than what we asked him even though it was the first time to meet. There are approximately 280 Red Cross-related volunteers are working within six blocks, focusing today on feeding and medical care and as such. When we mentioned to him that we are going to the site tomorrow, he warned us the weather in Sendai is unusually cold with gusty winds, and we must prepare clothes to keep us worm all the time. If we don’t have an adequate gear to put on, he said, we may be able to stay outside thirty minutes at the most. He also mentioned that sludge on the road makes driving so difficult that many cars actually slipped and fell into the ditch, so he told us to drive on the middle of the road. He told us also that we need a special permit from the police department to receive a permission to enter into the disaster area. He told us to go to the police complex located on the other side of the road. Instead of just sending us there, however, he walked with us to the police complex and led us to the proper department. There we found out that the special permission is no longer necessary because all roads are now open to the public that even this Red Cross officer didn’t know. He truly served us well that he was waiting for us to leave the building and saw us off.
No matter how difficult people are, if we open our hearts and approach them in Christ love, then we now know that people eventually open their hearts to us that we could possibly establish a relationship. This is very true when we witness to Japanese non-believers that we have to build up relationship first and demonstrating God’s love in the relationship not only by words but also by our daily Christ-like living. Lastly, he mentioned one very important truth about the victims that we didn’t even think of – there are many victims from foreign countries and Japanese people cannot truly deal with their spiritual trauma. Those people need help and only people who can really help them are native Americans or/and those for whom English is their first language.
In the evening with an assistance of a seminary student, we bought boxes of cup noodles and chocolates to take with us to the disaster area tomorrow and two cans of gasoline. Tomorrow morning we will buy four cans of kerosene and after loading all the food that we have purchased tonight, we will go to the disaster area.
We will stay overnight at a church in sleeping bag, and come back to the hotel next day. Until then, I may not have an access to e-mail, so even though you may not receive any report from me in the next two days, please don’t worry but keep praying for us. I will send you another report as soon as we come back from the disaster area.
Unfortunately, all pictures that I took today were accidentally transferred into a computer in the convention office. I will send them when I retrieved those pictures from them.
We truly covet your prayers, and this is the end of the fourth day in Japan.