The Role of Touhoku HELP; (Report on a visit to Iwate)

I had an opportunity to visit Iwate prefecture last weekend, September 24th. This trip well indicated the role of Touhoku HELP. Here I would like to explain about the content of our support. The purpose of going to Iwate is to visit two offices among the ecumenical network within Iwate prefecture. The two offices are "3.11 Iwate Church Network" which is located at "Morioka Bible Baptist Church" and "Iwate Mission Cooperative Association" which office located at "Hanamaki Christ Mission Church".

I arrived Morioka in the morning and met Rev. Yoshiya Kondo and Rev. Humiaki Otsuka. We reported and shared our situation with each other to seek possible cooperation and pray together. As we believe we can develop future cooperation, we moved to the next destination. The next destination was the city of Hanamaki.

We met Rev. Eizaburou Kumagai there. I have already met him once before and discussed about cooperation with our relief program. So this time we were discussing more concretely about support of those in temporary housing in Ofunato, which we had talked about in our previous meeting.

The temporary housing units where Rev. Kumagai's relative is living now has no NPO activities because of some problems. So, then we moved to Ofunato having an introduction by Rev. Kumagai. It had become already dark when we arrived there. Though it was a late hour, the community president of the temporary housing extended a welcome for us. Morioka Bible Baptist Church:

The community association of the temporary housing was just about organized. The president of the association was full of enthusiasm. However it seems that support is lacking among the administration sector, business sector and NPO's. It seems that there are some areas where we could get involve!

It is well indicating of our role of in the relief support through the experience of Morioka Bible Baptist Church in our Iwate visit.

We have confirmed that we are asked the following role and responsibility;

1) Gathering information and broadening the network of the church,

2) Finding out the necessary but hidden relief needs,

3) Connecting those needs to the network of churches and providing support for them.

And it is always necessary for support that the following three matters be considered.

1) There should be persons who wish to serve their neighbors with strong commitment and enthusiasm.

2) There is also the group or/and the organization who is backing him up.

3) And there should be a demand and needed relief.

We should find out #3), and should bear the role of #2).

It is most important for the persons being served to take responsibility of #1); however we are not able to be involved in this. It is necessary to have prayer for this particular work. Through our prayer, we can find the appropriate person to serve this most needed important responsibility. We are praying hard to find someone. Our heavenly God will surely give the desire to him if he should be involved. We should pray eagerly to get an appropriate person to serve soon. At the temporary housing in Ofunato, we have met such a person. I thought that our heavenly Father provided the will to this person for service. We give the glory of serving to God through the assistance of such committed people. Rev. (Dr.) Naoya Kawakami
(Full responsibility for Content of this writing)

The courtesy visit; 15 representatives from the Korean church

The operation of Tohokuhelp manages the annual budget of 40 million yen by offerings and donations. This budget has been donated from overseas churches and organizations by the appeal of NCC (National Christian Council) in Japan. The prompt response comes from all over the world but especially from Germany and Korea.

Those 15 visitors are the representatives who worked for raising donations for the disaster.

On September 17th, Rev. Kawakami attended a presentation at the NCC office in Tokyo to receive 90 million won (app.6.3million yen) from Korea.

The Korean group visited Higashi-matsushima, the Seaside Bible Chapel in Gamou, in Sendai. Rev. Kawakami

has accompanied the visiting group from the temporary housing area and came to the office to greet and answer questions.

Rev. Kawakami, the director explained in his greeting that it was not necessary to have an office for only one time relief but we have realized our relief programs have continued for a longer period of time. That is why we have established the office to deal with problems properly. This office is for friendship between you and the Japanese people, Rev. Kawakami explained.

The Korean group asked a question about the basic policy for the relif program? He explained that we are working together with the Tohoku parish of the United Church of Christ in Japan (Kyodan) and that the relief and support should not be forced on the victims no matter what may happen. We should not force on them our faith, or our money or any other goods. Yet we are ready to meet promptly when we are requested anything from them.

There is a great demand from the people in the disaster stricken area for "hope" and employment.

Another question was how has the relief work started for the foreign victims? The National Christian Liaison Council has made a request of support through Rev. Heo Baekki of JEDRO. There were many keen questions regarding the foreigners who were in the disaster. Tohoku Help is conducting a survey to find the situation after the disaster and providing mental care for immigrants particularly. It was a short period of time, some 40 min.

But it was a very fruitful visit.  

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