On our Good Friday Service at 10:00am Harbour will have a special offering. Half the money given will be used to support the Walk Compassionately ministry as they seek to meet needs in our immediate community. The other half will be used to help further the work of Christ and build His kingdom in Japan.
Below is an letter from denominational missionaries Paul & Jennifer Sadler – money will be used to help support them and other church leaders during this time of crisis.
Dear Praying Friends,
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.
I headed out at 5:30 this morning in a bid to get gasoline. Four hours later I was back home with a full tank for a mere $1.87/L. These are strange times indeed. After some breakfast we went out with a list of supplies that are needed by the evacuees up north. The good news is that the supermarkets seem to have more supplies in them every day. We were able to get a good variety of dry and canned goods. We made an appeal for donations in our Gospel choir and church and amassed plenty of food, clothing and blankets. On Monday, Takeshi and a team will head north in two vans filled with supplies for needy evacuees in the north.
While a number had been away at church last week two days after the earthquake, this week we had a full crowd and a tender spirit among those who came. Continue to pray that God would use this crisis to move people forward in their faith and walk with Christ.
Last time I shared about our plans for Jennifer and the children to return to Canada as well as the obstacles we faced. With a full tank of gas purchased our first hurdle was cleared. Later in the day I was able to purchase plane tickets. All that remains is the obtaining of re-entry permits for their visas. We are still investigating this but it appears that we may need to get these from Mito Immigration when they open on Tuesday morning (Monday is a national holiday and they are closed on weekends). It is only 65 km north east of us but highways are closed down, some of the roads in that area are damaged, and when we arrive we anticipate major line-ups and no guarantees that we will be served.
Currently we anticipate Jennifer and the children flying out March 23 and, barring a major nuclear disaster, returning April 4. We would appreciate your understanding about this trip. Jennifer and the children are returning tired and will not be scheduling church presentations, ministry responsibilities or personal visits. The time is to recover and be with family. She is planning to be at Grace Baptist Church in Richmond Hill Sunday March 27 and at Bramalea Baptist Church Sunday April 3. If you would like to see them we would encourage you to meet them there. If we are able to organize some sort of informal meeting or luncheon following the service at either or both of these locations we will send information about that. But even those times would be for informal fellowship – I don’t want ask Jennifer or the kids to play Anderson Cooper, let me take that responsibility.
People have asked about signs of the spiritual impact of this crisis. To give you a first-hand report from the eye of the storm, I would like to share a rough translation I made of a March 18 report from Pastor Akira Sato of Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church. Donations to FAIR’s Japan Quake fund will go to provide for the needs of this church and many others in crisis.
Pastor Akira Sato: Evacuation Report, March 18
Every day we are supported by so many people’s prayers. It already feels like much time has passed. I feel as if several years’ worth of drama has been packed into the last week. After reuniting with my Christian brothers and sisters at the evacuation site, I often will mistakenly refer to it in conversation as the concentration camp. It feels like we’re living in a war zone.
Whenever I hear people’s stories of their evacuation, I feel as if they have escaped through their fire or slipped through the middle of the tsunami. Yesterday I got word from a church member I had been worried about, “I was truly saved by God” he testified. As I listened, he explained that immediately after the earthquake, he had suffered a heart-attack, and half of his heart had stopped. If the emergency surgery had have been delayed by just 30 minutes, he would have died. “I can see the hand of God in the leading me in a path to life” he testified.
Another woman in our church was at work and had switched seats just before the earthquake hit and as a result was spared death and was able to escape by car. The roads were terribly damaged, but as she was escaping she gave a ride to several people and they were able to show her how to avoid the broken roads, and make her way through the mess of cars disabled by flat tires and other damage, and arrive safely at the evacuation site. From there she was able to move to another evacuation site and miraculously find her relatives.
But the most miraculous thing is that I haven’t heard anyone say, “How could God allow this?” or “There is no God. I don’t believe anymore.” Having confirmed the whereabouts of 160 Christian brothers and sisters now, what I am regularly hearing is “The Lord is wonderful,” and “I want to trust God more fully from now on.” I wonder to myself, “When did they get such strong faith?”
Yesterday, three of the people travelling with us, shed tears as they put their faith in Jesus and testified to their new faith. Hallelujah! What joy there must be in heaven. There’s nothing like seeing fruit first-hand like this, in the midst of such a gloomy disaster.
By the way, yesterday before we moved from Fukushima to Yamagata, some of our people were able to move to the homes of family and relatives. While we know that life is a series of encounters and farewells, there’s something special about time spent with people who have come through the same trial and shared meals together. While I wondered, “When will I see them again?” I struggled to hold back feelings of loss. I get tired of keep shedding tears like this. I try to tell myself that life is about hellos and goodbyes but it’s not so easy.
Yesterday we loaded into 12 cars, and headed to our next refuge, which required crossing over snowy paths with walls of snow a metre high on either side of us. But it wasn’t as if after we reached that tunnel of snow we were in snow country, but even before, it felt like we were in a world of silver and white. Yonezawa Chapel is in the midst of completely white snowy surroundings.
We stepped out of the shivering cold and were welcomed by our church hosts with bowls of hot udon and soba noodles. I had the experience of holding back tears while I ate the food made for us. If this is I feel now, I hate to think what will happen in the future. Lord, like the silvery white snow we see all around us, renew my delicate heart.
We are now living life as “diaspora” (scattered peoples). In the end, “Where will we lay down roots? Where we will settle?” I wonder. What is clear is that through these unusual times, the Lord has stirred up everything. Some have been freed from their excuses and received the Saviour, others have repented that their faith had been sleeping. Still others have expressed their realization of how little is really necessary for life. In each of these souls the Lord has been powerfully present, rousing their very being, and over-turning the foundation of their lives.
Perhaps the Lord is inviting us to a new work. Perhaps the curtain is rising on a great drama like the exodus from Egypt.
Please join us in prayer:
- Give thanks for a quieter day of relief from strong after-shocks.
- Give thanks for a full tank of gas and seats on a plane to Canada.
- Pray that we will be able to safely get re-entry permits for Jennifer and the kids on Tuesday morning.
- Pray for those whom I challenged from the Word on Saturday and Sunday. I truly long for God to bring a new spirit of devotion and openness in our hearts and in this country.
- Pray for Takeshi as he heads into the affected regions on Monday with relief supplies. Pray for safety and wisdom as he travels.
- Pray for the Flemings. They are into their second week without running water. Through the provision of a retired pastor turned farmer with a well and Christian relief teams coming through the area, they have had plenty of water to drink and even for baths and washing. Through this gracious provision they have helped to distribute more than 3500 L (!) of water to their neighbours in the last four days. Pray that God would sustain and use them greatly.
- Pray for the thousands who are displaced by this tragedy and facing an uncertain future. Pray that CRASH, CABJ, and we and our own church family would be used to make a difference in the lives of many affected by this crisis.
This will probably be my last daily update but I will continue to provide updates as often as I am able. I have been asked by some to repeat the information on how to give to the relief efforts here in Japan.
We are so grateful for your prayer and support at this time.
Safe in His loving arms,
Paul & Jennifer Sadler
Brooke, Evan, Caleb