June 17, 2011
By Alan and Jill Kropp, serving in Japan
The following is an adapted excerpt from the Kropps’ recent newsletter.
At 2:46 p.m. March 11, 2011, Japan’s landscape changed forever when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Miyagi Ken. In some areas, the resulting tsunami penetrated as far as four miles inland, destroying nearly everything in its path and leaving thousands homeless.
The earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant, triggering a nuclear crisis that is still unfolding. Although plant employees have worked heroically to cool the reactors, radiation continues to emanate from the plant. It is estimated that it will take at least nine months to bring the situation under control.
In the midst of this triple disaster, the eyes of the world have been on Japan. Recently, we heard someone say, “In no other time in history has there been such a global focus of people interceding for Japan!” We believe this is a unique time to minister in Japan.
Soon after March 11, I (Alan) tried to find a way to be involved in the relief effort. I prayed, “Lord, what is my role? Do you have something prepared for me?” Initially, the process was frustrating. I made phone calls and sent e-mails, but the doors remained shut. To make matters worse, there were logistical challenges. Roads were closed; gas was in short supply up north.
An Answer to Prayer
After two weeks of “active waiting,” an opportunity finally emerged. I made contact with a coordinator from Samaritan’s Purse (SP). She told me that shovels, rakes, and gloves were needed in relief efforts. While most of the tsunami-hit homes would eventually be bulldozed, tools would help people sift through the rubble and recover personal belongings. I also learned that roads were reopening and, with a special permit, relief workers could get fuel.
I felt like this was my chance to move. I bought as many tools as I could in Nagoya and drove up to the Tokyo area. There I met up with Kouichi, a seminary student from Kawaguchi Christ Church, which had been planted by Alliance international workers Don and Hazel Schaeffer. We rented a 2-ton truck and drove north to distribute the tools. While there were still many “unknowns,” I figured once we got to SP’s distribution center, the staff would direct and help us.
The morning that Kouichi and I arrived at SP’s distribution center, we were greeted by staff members who said, “You are an answer to prayer!” Just that morning they had ask God to provide a vehicle so they could deliver aid to hard-hit Ofunato-and there we were! I was blown away. God had masterfully orchestrated the timing and circumstances. Their words were a huge confirmation of His leading. While the tools we brought—purchased with CAMA (Compassion and Mercy Associates) funds—were appreciated, perhaps even more than the tools, our 2- ton truck was a huge asset that week. Kouichi and I helped various groups deliver supplies such as water, food, blankets, and bikes.
On the first day of our trip, the truck was loaded with aid, and we travelled to Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. Although the coastal town had been pulverized by the waves, a small church had escaped the tsunami’s reach. The sanctuary had been transformed into a relief center. Food and clothes were displayed on tables; praise music played softly in the background. According to one believer, 200 people were coming to the church each day to receive clothing, food, and water. This humble church of 10 people was profoundly impacting its community! Several weeks earlier, to many in that community, the church had been merely a beautiful edifice—part of the landscape but not part of their lives. Now, in the midst of destruction and death, it stood as a bright beacon of hope.
As I interpreted for SP staff, I learned that one of the believers at the church had lost her home and her husband in the tsunami. In the midst of grief and loss, this woman was ministering to and comforting others. What a powerful witness of God’s sustaining grace—the grace by which we are saved and by which we serve.
A New Ministry Landscape
The entire nation was shaken by the horrors that unfolded on March 11. Even as Japan’s coastline has been altered by the tsunami’s devastating inundation, Japan’s ministry landscape has changed. Relief work, something we never dreamed would be part of doing ministry in Japan, has entered the mix!
Northern Japan, where Christianity is particularly scarce, is in its greatest hour of need. The work is far from over—it is going to be a marathon. Please pray that the millions of Japanese who have yet to hear the gospel will encounter Christ during this time of crisis in Japan. Pray that there will be a new “openness” to the gospel in the midst of this tragedy and that God will bring a spiritual awakening.
Read about a new Alliance initiative to plant a church in the earthquake-stricken region of Japan.
What You Can Do
Pray that God will provide all that is needed for the Japan field’s church-planting initiative in northern Japan, including a rental facility where Harry and Jane Landaw, church-planting team coordinators, can carry out ministry.
Give to Alliance Great Commission Ministries and partner with Alliance workers around the world who are being light to those who need Jesus.