TARO, JAPAN (October 25, 2011) – Good fortune isn’t always what it seems, as Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Gary Carlson learned during a relief trip to a tsunami-devastated region of Japan.
“It would seem at first that those whose homes were not destroyed in the tsunami were very fortunate,” says Carlson. “Yet because they did not lose their homes, they are in some ways ignored by the systems that have been established to help people in need. They may have a house to sleep in, and yet may have lost jobs, cars, or other things people rely on each day.”
By contrast, the people who lost homes and moved into government-run temporary housing units receive more assistance.
Despite the differences, the great needs of everyone continue. The Iwate Church Network, with which the Japan Covenant Church is working, is sharing the love of Christ by meeting material needs as well as needs that are spiritual, Carlson says.
Meeting the multiple needs has helped the churches to begin developing relationships. Carlson notes the reception volunteers received.
“First, everyone welcomed us once they knew that we were connected to the local church,” he says. “Second, no one was embarrassed to receive some food. On the other hand, there was no sense of anyone feeling that they were entitled to it either.”
Carlson adds, “They may not have understood that we were doing it out of love for them because of Jesus’ love for us, but they knew that we came as Christians. They welcomed us with gratitude, and with open hearts that I have not often encountered in this country.”
The underlying ministry to the people has been demonstrating that the survivors are remembered. “We let people know that they are not forgotten,” says Carlson. “Not forgotten by people who are concerned, and not forgotten by a God who loves them.”
To learn more comments by Johnson about the recent relief work, click here.