Messages of Solidarity with the People of Japan
Global Ministries has received several messages and stories of solidarity with the Japanese people and our GM missionaries. Below you will find these messages posted in chronological order:
Dear Jeffrey Mensendiek-
Greetings and peace to you, Jeffrey. I was present at the WCM Board of Directors meeting when Xiaoling made contact with you by phone and you shared information about the present situation in Japan. Thank you for taking the time to do that. I was moved by your words and your commitment to the people there.
I should tell you that I have been serving as Executive Director at Back Bay Mission, a UCC ministry in Biloxi, Mississippi, for the last 10 years. Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina ripped through this community and left utter devastation behind, including the nearly-complete destruction of Back Bay Mission’s 7 buildings on our ministry campus and most of the neighborhoods we had traditionally served. Because of that experience, the horror of the tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis in Japan has touched me in a special way.. Though every disaster and its aftermath is very different from any other in many ways, I believe I can understand in some small and perhaps unique way something of what you might be experiencing and feeling in these last several weeks. I remember well the sense of being totally overwhelmed, the deep and indescribable sense of loss, the feeling of helplessness as we devised new ways of ministering amidst impossible conditions, and the frustrating work of trying to grasp and craft a vision for the future when information, communication, and broader state and community plans were constantly either inadequate or evolving at best.
My guess is you might be experiencing some of these same things, and probably much, much more. And I’m sure your particular cultural context in Japan adds many layers to the experience that I cannot fathom.
In the midst of what can feel like a very isolating, lonely, and daunting experience, I want you to know that I am praying for you and those you serve and work with. Many others are doing the same. We are contributing to the fund created by CGMB, and we stand ready to offer help in whatever ways you deem appropriate and needful as time goes on. You already know that the process of recovery will be a long and arduous one…. Do what you can along the way to nurture your spirit and your body and your mind. Vent when you need to. Have a sense of humor and laugh whenever possible. Gather strength from your companions on the journey. And have faith that God walks with you and can carve a way through it all even when a way through it seems impossible.
If I can do anything personally to support you or act as some sort of useful resource, now or in the future, please do let me know. May God grant you strength and perseverance for the road ahead….
Grace & peace,
Rev. Shari Prestemon, Executive Director, Back Bay Mission
We hold you and the people and churches of Japan in our prayers and thoughts.
As David Vargas shared with you recently, in our (David Vargas and myself) visit to Chile a few days ago, the Pentecostal Church of Chile wrote a letter for the churches and people of Japan. They also presented an offering in honor of David Vargas for the support of the response of the Global Ministries’ partners in Japan to the earthquake.
The Pentecostal Church of Chile also sent the doll Esperanza (Hope). The Women of the Pentecostal Church of Tome city, and the Shalom Center of the Pentecostal Church of Chile did a workshop where the women cut and sewed 180 dolls to be use as part of the trauma healing and resilience workshop “Door of Hope”, created by the Shalom Center as a response to the February 2010 earthquake and tsunami that affected Chile.
Here is the explanation provided by provided by Global Ministries missionary Elena Huegel about the Hope doll:
“Within a few weeks after the Feb. 27th earthquake and tsunami devastated the small town of Dichato just outside of the city of Tomé in the eighth region of Chile, the Shalom Center and the Pentecostal Church of Chile in Tomé organized a workshop with the women of the area to make “Hope” dolls. Thanks to a generous offering from Global Ministries and the Pentecostal Church of Chile national office, the women were able to cut and sew 180 dolls which were then included in bags with all the materials needed for the “Doors of Hope” workshop. The Shalom Center used these materials to train Sunday School teachers, church and community leaders in the four most deeply affected regions of Chile who in turn lead trauma healing and resilience development workshops for children, youth and adults in their local areas. “Hope” (all 180 versions of her!) shared stories, hugs, fears, tears and laughter with children all over Chile in the months after the catastrophe. We are very grateful to the women of Tomé and Dichato who, even as they were recovering from the trauma of the loss of their homes, community and church building, took the time to create “Hope” for so many others.”
Please convey the message of the Pentecostal Church of Chile to the people, churches and ecumenical partners in Japan.
I am with Felix Ortiz in southern Chile, where we are visiting our Global Ministries partner, the Pentecostal Church of Chile (IPC), based in the City of Curicó. In a meeting this morning with the IPC National Board, Bishop Ulises Muñoz and Pastor Sergio Veloso, IPC President, presented us with a check in th amount of $2000 designated to support the relief efforts of Global Ministries’ partner churches in Japan. This is a beautiful gesture of a church formed by people of faith who are still recovering from last year’s devastating earthquake in their own country.
David Vargas, GM Co-Executive
Rev. Sharon MacArthur, of Sycamore Congregational United Church of Christ, El Cerrito CA, is Japanese and her congregation serves the Japanese community. Sharon is a former Vice Moderator of the General Synod. Sharon shared about the work in her community.
There are many heart-warming stories of how people in the community are using their gifts and skills to raise resources to support relief and rehabilitation work in Japan. My nichigobu (Japanese language minister, ordained UCC-J) Koji Sahara and I have addressed a gathering of African American pastors in the East Bay who wish to help. We encouraged monetary donations at this time. One young pastor talked to me afterwards and will be working with us to have their annual gospel concert in May benefit Japan Disaster Relief. Various groups in the Sycamore extended community will be having bake sales, Japanese craft sales, pizza bakes, “Take Home Sunday Night Dinners” as well as “Saturday Obentos (lunchboxes)” – all to benefit Japan disaster relief! A most touching gift was from a 7 year old and his mother who brought their donations to us personally – in US Dollars and in yen! I received a phone call this morning from a woman who came to worship with us for a while when she was living in her car. She doesn’t have much money to donate, but she has materials and time and can create some craft items to give to Sycamore to sell to benefit Japan Disaster Relief. I would say we have been receiving about 2-3 phone calls per hour about how to donate for the Japan disaster. I am so moved by such outpouring of love and care.
We are blessed to be known as a church with strong links to Japan…we’ve been visited by several TV channels and had stories about our receiving donations for Japan relief. So far, the loved ones and family members of Sycamore community we have been able to contact are safe. We continue to pray and hope and do what we can…our doors and sanctuary have been open for all those who wish to pray, meditate, share or be in community.
A letter was received from the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) and forwarded to the churches of Japan:
Greetings and blessings to you during this Lenten season. This quick note serves to request you to convey this message to partners and friends in Japan following the untimely disaster that has robbed several lives.
The United Church of Christ In Zimbabwe has learnt with shock, grief, sadness and sorrow following the untimely misfortune that befell on the people of Japan. We are joining the rest of the Christian Community and the whole world in expressing our deepest sorrow and condolences to the people of Japan following the earthquake that has killed so many people.
We are praying with the whole Nation of Japan to come to terms with this disaster. We are also praying for a quick recovery of the injured.
May God be with you.
Rev Edward Matuvhunye.