International Ministries

Shoes of Peace?

April 6, 2011 Journal
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       In Japan, when I leave my house, I have to put on my shoes. Our family of five leaves all of our shoes in the genkan (similar to a foyer) near our front door. I have to find my shoes and put them on. Since I have several pair, I have to choose the ones I need for the situation at hand. In the Bible, Paul says to shod your feet with the gospel of peace. I did not feel the peace of God after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant failures. So, when our friends in the southern part of Japan invited us to visit, we were happy to take a short vacation. My friend Michael is a pastor of a small church in Sakai City. We attended service at their church and his message inspired me to receive God's compassion for the Japanese people. Our friend's hospitality and encouragement gave me God's peace again.


     After we returned, I talked with Lee Ann and my kids to see if it would be OK for me to visit the Japan Baptist Union (JBU) churches in Tohoku. (A plan was in the works for the general secretary and one other pastor to visit.) My family gave me their support and I began planning. Amazingly, everything came together in a just a few days and we departed Tokyo at around 11P, Sunday evening. During our trip, I remembered the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I saw incredible devastation from the tsunami in the areas near the coast. We visited six churches, a university, two kindergartens, and many evacuation centers. Let me give some examples of how God is comforting the mourning.

     My role was to be the photographer and videographer for this trip. When people received a small gift of vegetables, or canned foods, or household products, they showed their grateful appreciation. It was visible in their faces and beautiful smiles. I saw how big an impact that a little gift brings in comfort to people. I met Mr. Oyama, a retired Japanese merchant marine captain. He lost his home, yet at 7AM, he was busy cutting fishing nets off of some trees so they would survive. After receiving a small box of household products and packaged foods, he was so happy he invited us to his adult child's home nearby. This is where he is staying. His determination and foresight were an inspiration to me!


     One pastor shared how they are able to deliver goods to people nearby. They also ask their members to come to church, receive some donations, then give them out to their neighbors and friends. In this way, their church serves the people. It encourages them to come to church, hear the message of hope in Christ and then go out and bless others both physically and spiritually. Isn't that a great way of expressing God's comfort? 


     I have changed after seeing the devastation left by the earthquake and tsunami and being with friends living in the area. I normally don't cry, but now tears are common for me especially in prayer. I have heard of the emotional tsunami that people face from dealing with their fears and loss. Yet, many people of Japan show signs of hope and recovery. As a people of God, compassionate because of God's love, and given the opportunity to give comfort to those who mourn, won't you join us in providing a little comfort to those Japanese people who are suffering from this disaster? The Japan Baptist Churches need our support in this critical time of need. Please consider a donation to: Japan Relief


Please continue to pray for Japan, especially for our Christian brothers and sisters working courageously, having shod their feet with the gospel of the peace of Christ.


With Christ's Love,

Gordon


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