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Giesbrechts March 2024 Missions Update

Ishikawa Earthquake

On January 1, 2024 a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Ishikawa prefecture of Japan.  The timing and severity of this disaster was unsettling for a nation which is already feeling stressed in many ways.  Since the disaster we had been waiting on the Lord for guidance on how to respond. When University students from our Thursday prayer-walking / outreach expressed interest in volunteering, we sensed this was the time to go.

Taka is a first-year student at Osaka University who came along with his friend to Ishikawa for three days (this is fruit from the weekly prayer-walk at the Osaka University campus).  He had never been to a disaster-area before and was quite affected by the scene of the burnt-out and broken city where we served.  Our team leader, Pastor Naomi from Okinawa, explained that while the situation is tragic, God can use it to heal relationships and communities.  It was amazing to see her enter easily into communities which are normally suspicious of outsiders.  With a little Okinawan music and dancing, a smile and a hug she was able to do the impossible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

This was Pastor Naomi’s third relief trip to Ishikawa and previously she had slept in a greenhouse turned emergency shelter with its twenty some inhabitants.  We got to visit with her this time and experience the warm relationship in this cold setting.  The neighborhood people are sleeping on beds made of piles of fertilizer and are heating the greenhouse with Kerosene heaters.  They showed us a spring which opened up nearby after the earthquake. This has served as the community’s water supply for washing dishes, clothes and bodies.  Isn’t it amazing that God can use and earthquake to open up a spring of water near to their place of refuge.  As they came together in a time of fear and suffering, this warm spring helped them to become a closer community.

One of the ladies shared that on the first of January, they (like many others) were having a new years family gathering with guests from out of town.  When the earthquake came everything was falling down, the walls came down and they were hiding under the table. Then they crawled out of the room wondering when will it end, when will it end.  She said that this is a kind of experience that you can’t imagine unless you have experienced it and it’s something that she never wants to experience again.

They were very open-hearted towards us and said to the young men “you are just the same age as our grandkids!”  “Thanks so much for coming to visit us!”  “Be sure to grow up into honorable men!”  and you could see how Taka and his friend were impacted by this.  Because of receiving such love and encouragement from Pastor Naomi, one of the women exclaimed to the other “I should really believe in God as well!”  Let’s pray that this is the case.  Let’s pray that many in Ishikawa will trust in Jesus – as they have in Tohoku after the earthquake there.  (March 11th was the 13th anniversary)

Our group got to serve food to people living in temporary refuge centers, and to start cleaning up earthquake debris – rocks, bricks and earth.  It was special to be able to work together with four other teams, under the direction of Love East – a Tokyo church’s relief initiative.  There were Christians and non-Christians working together, and at one point we were helping clean-up a Buddhist temple!  Taka and his friend were amazed at the “diversity” represented.  The couple who run the temple explained that they are the 22nd generation of monks running that temple. They had been very distraught that their rock wall had fallen onto the road and was causing kinjyomeiwaku (inconvenience) to the community.  They enjoyed watching the team move rocks with such joy and comradery.  They seemed to have much lighter hearts once the rocks were cleaned up and we had blessed them. 

Taka and his friend got to experience Christian community in a powerful way on this trip –including prayer and worship.  Let’s pray that Jesus will have his way in their lives and in their university friend-group!

Prayer Items

  • For a good week our family had with our oldest son Joshua who now lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
  • For 1st volunteer team to be sent out of Osaka University Prayer-walk/Outreach.

Prayer Requests

  • March 19th-27th prayer team from Parliament Community Church, Regina SK, send sprayer team to Japan! Let’s pray that God will use the week for Sozo: healing, deliverance and salvation.
  • March 21st Ishibashi Youth Mission Team will go to the soup kitchen.

Thank you for praying, 

Cory and Masami