This past June we had the opportunity to go with a small team from our sending church (Auburn Grace Community Church) and joined with Ralph (a current missionary to Japan) in his efforts to make the Gospel known in a town called Hadenya. Hadenya is part of a larger area (Tohoku) which was devastated from the Tsunami 2 years ago. Ralph has been spending about 1 week every month in Hadenya for the past couple of years, looking for ways to serve the people and make Jesus’ name known. He invited our team to join him in relief work as well as looking for opportunities to build relationships with the villagers.We spent just over a week camping in tents and working the fields, trying to prepare the soil for planting. We would get glimpses of these people’s broken lives as we pulled out clothing, dishes, shoes, an incredible amount of shells, and children’s toys from the ground. It was heartbreaking to see how this tsunami impacted this small community, almost all of whom are still living in temporary housing today. As we’d spend long days tilling the soil and clearing out weeds and debris, the villagers would watch and often try and start up conversation. Our willingness to serve them presented many chances to speak with the villagers and support the work Ralph has already been doing in their lives. Throughout the week, I helped the ladies cook their meals (they even taught me how to make different types of Onigiri, which was quite tasty). Our team hosted a village BBQ where we could all enjoy each others company in a relaxed setting. This same night, some of the ladies that I had spent time with throughout the week wanted to share with me their experience during and after the tsunami. As they shared their heartbreak, we’d cry together. When they told me the details of being rescued, we celebrated together. Each lady had a relative or friend that they lost during the tsunami and I got to hear a piece of their story. I couldn’t help but notice a sense of hopelessness in their voices as each detail was given. One lady in particular, shared how she laughs to avoid crying all the time, how overwhelming the memories are for her. I told her that I know a God who cares for those broken areas in her, who wants to heal these wounds in her, to show her that she can have joy again. I told her that I would be praying that she would know God the way that I do, and that He would bring a peace into her life. She paused and asked “Jen, would you pray with me now?” I was able to pray with her and some of the other ladies that night. There aren’t any believers in this village yet but I have faith that the Lord is using our willingness as well as Ralph’s faithfulness to them to display Himself. It was such a blessing to be able to take part in the Lord’s pursuit of the people of Hadenya. We look forward to the day we live in Japan and get to follow up with these villagers and continue the work the Lord has begun.
Here are a few pictures from Matt’s Facebook page