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 As three years have passed since the disaster, almost all the volunteer groups have withdrawn.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 off the fragrance of Christ. (Tr. RT)

『はっきり言っ ておく。わたしの兄弟であるこの最も小さい者の一人にしたのは、わたしにしてくれたことなのである。』(マタイ25・40)

親愛なる皆様。東日 本大震災のためにお祈りとご支援をいただき心より感謝を致します。

大船渡教会は高台 にあり被害は軽微ですが、教会員の被害は甚大です。5人が家屋流失、1家族が津波で死亡。脳死の者もいます。他にも家族を失った者が何名 もいます。そのような中で教会は様々なことに取り組みました。

まず救援物資の配布 です。7,000冊のギデオン聖書もあわせて配りました。その中から礼拝や祈祷会 に出席している者もいます。

同時にボランティア の宿泊場所にも開放しました。その中には初めて教会に来た者もいます。キリスト教に触れ、地元の教会に出席している者もいます。教会につ ながるきっかけになったことは大きな喜びです。

また仮設住宅に出掛 けます。仮設で住人とお茶を飲みながら、様々な話をします。震災から3年も過ぎるとほとんどのボランティア団体は撤退していきます。しか し現地にいるとここからが大事な時期に入るのではと思います。時間の経過ともにできる話、ボランティアが減少したからこそ、訪問してくだ さることが嬉しいのです。

よく聞かれるのは 「どうして、仮設を訪問するのか」という質問です。上からの命令ではありません。必要に迫られてという気はしますが、正直上手く答えられ ません。特に支援をしているつもりもありません。これに便乗して教勢拡大を目指しているわけでもありません。時には疲れや疑問も感じま す。それでも助けを必要としている人がおり、少しではあっても手を差し伸べられる位置に教会はあります。

痛み を共有し、キリストの香りを多くの人々に放つことができれば幸いです。大船渡 教会 牧師 村谷正人