Extending a Helping Hand

by Maruya Masato, pastor

Ofunato Church, Iwate, Ou District

 

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did to me.” (Matt. 25:40, NRSV)

 

Dear loving friends! I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for your prayers and support related to the Great East Japan Disaster. Ofunato Church is situated on high ground, so it was only slightly damaged, but the harm to church members has been enormous. The homes of five persons were washed away, and the tsunami caused the death of one family. One is brain-dead. In several other homes, family members were lost. In the midst of these tragedies, the church is wrestling with various matters.

 

Of utmost concern was the distribution of relief materials. In addition, we have distributed a total of 7,000 Bibles published by the Gideons. Some of the persons who received Bibles are attending worship services and prayer meetings. Meanwhile, we opened places for relief volunteers to stay. Several are attending church for the first time. Since coming in contact with Christianity, some are attending churches in their home areas. The fact that this has become an opportunity for them to connect with churches is a source of great joy.

We are also going to the temporary housing area. While drinking tea with people living in temporary housing units, we talk with them about various things. As three years have passed since the disaster, almost all the volunteer groups have withdrawn. But for those of us who live here, I think the most important time is ahead. Especially since the number of volunteers has decreased, visitors will be happily welcomed to engage in ongoing conversations. What I often hear is the question, “Why do you visit the temporary housing area?” It is not because someone in authority has commanded us to visit. I feel it is something born of necessity, and honestly, I cannot answer the question well. I do not even have a particular desire to be supportive. I am not trying to take advantage of the situation, nor am I seeking to extend my influence.

 

Sometimes I am tired and have doubts. But even then, there are persons in need of help, so there is a place for the church to extend a helping hand, even though it may be modest. It will be a blessing if I can share their pain and give of