【April 2019 No.402】Kyodan Participation in Disaster Relief in Japan in 2018

The following three accounts, taken from Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), describe the initiative and involvement of the Kyodan, its district, and its churches and members in disaster relief, with ecumenical and sometimes international cooperation, during 2018.

Carpenters from Taiwan Volunteer for Okayama Relief

by Osawa Motomu, pastor

Yamaguchi Church, Nishi-Chugoku District

When western Japan experienced disastrously heavy rain in July 2018, the Nishihirashima area in Okayama Prefecture, was the second worst in terms of aftereffects of the disaster, with 2,230 homes being damaged by flooding. Immediately after the devastation occurred, Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, among others, inspected the damage on several occasions. The commission began activities in August in the Nishihirashima area to promote relief efforts that met the needs of the people in the most appropriate ways.

We always keep in mind that it is “the person-to-person connection” that makes it possible to provide support. On Friday, July 6, heavy rain fell continuously, resulting in the overflowing of Suna River’s banks, and NGO Team Haru Haru entered the area on Sunday, July 8. The relief efforts continued nonstop, without taking even one day off, so a relationship of trust was established with the district. Wake Church Pastor Nobuto Yoshihide had already been participating in this work for several days, so the commission too was able to begin relief activities.Some people said that compared to other nearby disaster areas, reconstruction of the Nishihirashima area progressed more quickly. This was partly due to the help received from experienced volunteers. They soon finished removing mud, disinfecting, and drying floors. By August, they were at the point where the carpenters could begin necessary repairs. With the help of the Kyodan, volunteer carpenters from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan were dispatched to the disaster area.

During a period of 39 days, from Monday, Aug. 27, through Thursday, Oct. 4, major and minor repairs were carried out on about 20 homes by a total of ten volunteers and three inspectors. I cannot forget the sight of the members of one family shaking hands with a carpenter from Taiwan, their eyes filled with tears as they said, “When we were looking at the ground covered with mud every day, we could not motivate ourselves to do anything. But now it seems that we can finally take one step forward.” During this same time period, a lot of damage was being caused by natural disasters occurring also in Taiwan. I want to thank the members of the family of God in Taiwan, who sent the carpenters to help Japan.

 

大澤求 山口教会牧師

 2018年7月の西日本豪雨災害で、「岡山県西平島地区」は県内二番目となる、浸水家屋2230棟の被害を受けた。被害発生直後から、教団の世界宣教委員会を中心に各地の視察が繰り返され、よりニーズに合った具体的な働きが展開できる(地域として)、西平島地区での活動が八月から始まった。

 常に「人と人とのつながり」が、支援活動を可能にすると実感させられる。七月六日(金)から大雨が降り続き、砂川が決壊した直後、「NGOチームはるはる」が八日(日)から現地入りし、一日も休むことなく活動を続けていたことによって、地域との信頼関係が構築されていたこと、その働きにすでに和気教会の延藤好英)牧師が繰り返し参加されていたことで、我々も活動を始めることができた。

 経験豊富なボランティアたちの助けもあり、西平島地区は周辺被災地に比べ、復興進捗が速かったと言われる。泥出しや消毒、床下の乾燥などもすでに終えられ、八月には、専門的な大工仕事が必要とされる段階にあった。そこに日本基督教団を通して、台湾長老基督教会の大工ボランティアが派遣された。

 8月27日(月)~10月4日(木)まで、39日間にわたり、のべ10名のボランティアと3名の視察により、大小の修繕を合わせた約20棟の家屋が直された。

 「泥がむき出しになった地面を毎日眺めていた時は、何もやる気が起こらなかったけど、ようやく一歩が踏み出せそうです。」涙を浮かべ、台湾の大工さんと握手をするご家族の姿が忘れられない。同時期に、台湾国内も自然災害が続き多くの被害があった。日本のために彼らを送り出してくれた、台湾にある主の家族に感謝したい。

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Kyodan Churches Join Interdenominational Relief in Hiroshima

by Kobayashi Katsuya, pastor, Kure Heian Church,

      Nishi-Chugoku District

       Steering committee member, Hiroshima Christian Church

       Disaster Relief Projects Planning Headquarters,

        Kure Volunteer Center

The flood-causing rains also severely damaged Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture. In cooperation with several churches in Kure, the Hiroshima Cooperative Mission, Hiroshima Disaster Response Office, which had worked hard to offer support during another muddy disaster five years ago, launched an interdenominational organization called the Hiroshima Christian Church Disaster Relief Project Planning Headquarters, Kure Volunteer Center, which provided immediate support following the disaster.

The center provided housing for volunteers, limited to the first four weeks. This time limit was decided before starting so that the pastors and other people in the damaged areas would not collapse from exhaustion by doing relief work. Kure Heian Church also became a place that offered lodging. Many Christians, and many people interested in Christianity, crossed denominational lines and came from all over Japan, and from overseas too, to participate in the volunteer work. They met the needs of the victims, first helping churches, church members, the families and acquaintances of church members, and the regions where the churches are, in that order, by removing mud, disinfecting, etc. They carried out activities that included cooperating with the Social Welfare Council to bring in heavy equipment, like excavators and dump trucks, etc. In addition, since Akitsu Christian Church of the Nihon Fukuin Senkyodan (an independent evangelical denomination) was damaged, the volunteers also helped with its reconstruction project.

The volunteers intended to take responsibility for all the areas to which they had some connection until the end of the crisis. So they continued activities, such as removing mud and disinfecting, volunteering two days a week until the end of September. After that, the focus of volunteer efforts shifted to providing support for daily activities and providing emotional care. They started by giving out blankets to meet the needs of people in temporary housing. The circle of fellowship got bigger until it included the people in temporary housing and the members of the residents’ association who had experienced a lot of damage. The volunteers were able to send kotatsu sets (a small table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt) and insulation sheets, along with Christmas cards. Akitsu Christian Church finished the construction, and on Dec. 24 a celebration was held to give thanks for the work completed and offer praise for the Lord’s mighty deeds.

 

呉平安教会牧師 小林克哉

キリスト教会広島災害対策室呉ボランティアセンター運営委員

 今回の豪雨で、広島県の呉市も大きな被害を受けた。5年前の土砂災害で支援の働きをした広島宣教協力会広島災害対策室は、呉の諸教会と協力して超教派による「キリスト教会広島災害対策室呉ボランティアセンター」を立ち上げ、災害発生直後より支援活動を行った。

 まず4週間に限り、宿泊を伴うボランティア活動を行った。被災地の教会や牧師が支援活動で疲れ果て倒れることがないように予め期限を設けた。呉平安教会も宿泊場所の一つとなった。日本全国と、海外からも教派を超えキリスト者・求道者が多数、ボランティアに参加し、被災した教会、教会員、教会員家族や知人、教会の建つ地域の順で、ニードに対応した。社会福祉協議会と協力した、ショベルカーやダンプカーなどの重機も投入した活動や、被災した教会員やその家族・知人、教会関係者の声に応えた泥だし・消毒などを行った。当教会員家族も助けてもらった。被災した日本福音宣教団安芸津キリスト教会の再建プロジェクトも進めた。

 その後、関わりをもった所については最後まで責任を持とうと、週2日のボランティアで、泥出しや消毒などの活動を9月末まで続けた。その後は生活支援や心のケアに関するボランティアへと移行している。仮設住宅の方の必要に応え、毛布をお贈りしたことから、仮設住宅や被害が大きかった自治会の方々との交わりが広がり、クリスマスカードを添えて、こたつセットや断熱シートをお届けすることができた。安芸津キリスト教会は工事を終え、12月24日に完成感謝会を行って、主の御業を賛美した。

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Kyodan Churches Work with Ecumenical Relief Group in Okayama

by Otsuka Shinobu, moderator

                                           Higashi Chugoku District

                                           Pastor, Okayama Church

One week after the downpour in western Japan, the Okayama Prefecture Mission Gathering, a group made up of several evangelical churches in Okayama Prefecture, held a meeting. I was invited and attended as moderator of Higashi Chugoku District. There was discussion about how to support the churches in the prefecture that had been damaged, and the Okayama Mission Gathering, Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters was set up. After the meeting, the Kyodan’s Higashi Chugoku District also confirmed that it would assist with reconstruction together with the other churches. The Support Headquarters was moved into Nihon Seiyaku Kyodan Hiroe Seiyaku Christ Church. Volunteers gathered there at 7:30 a.m., and after holding a worship service, headed toward Mabicho, one of the disaster areas. Oda River and Takama River had overflowed, so some houses were submerged in water up to the second floor. Volunteers removed mud, cleaned the inside of the houses, and between periods of work, listened to the voices of the people who had experienced harm. In the Hirashima area of Okayama City’s Higashi Ward, both the Kyodan and the Taiwanese Volunteer Team assisted with reconstruction. Support work was continued until November, and as a result of discussions among the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, the YMCA Setouchi, the Kyodan and Kyodan Nishi-Chugoku District, it was decided that the base of activity would be located in Mabicho, so it has served as our base of operations. On Saturday, Dec. 8, a ceremony was held to celebrate its opening. It was decided that the base would be active in the disaster areas for two years. Some of our volunteers who had started in the last half of July 2018, were baptized at Christmas. It was a source of great joy for all of us, too. As we listen to the voices of the people who have suffered harm, praying and talking with them, we want to follow through on the task that has been given to us.(Tr. KT)

 

大塚忍 東中国教区総会議長 岡山教会牧師

 西日本豪雨から1週間後、岡山県内の福音派諸教会で構成されている「岡山県宣教の集い」の会議が行われました。私は(教団の)東中国教区総会議長という立場で陪席を促され、出席しました。県内の被災した教会への対応が協議され「岡山宣教の集い・岡山キリスト災害支援室」(岡キ災)が設置されました。会議後に、東中国教区も、共に復興支援に関わることを確認しました。支援室の事務所は、日本聖約教団広江聖約キリスト教会に置かれました。ボランティアはここに午前7時30分に集合し、礼拝後、被災地真備町へと向かいました。小田川、高馬川の決壊によって、2階まで水に浸かった家々で、家の中の泥かき、清掃を行いました。合間には被災者の方々の声を伺いました。岡山市東区平島地区では、日本基督教団と、台湾のボランティアチームが復興支援に携わってくださいました。支援作業は11月まで続けられ、岡キ災、YMCAせとうちと教区、教団の協議により、活動拠点を真備に設置することが決議され、拠点が与えられました。12月8日(土)に開所式が行われ、2年間被災地で活動することを決定しました。クリスマスに、7月の後半からボランティア活動をしてくださっていた仲間が受洗されたのは、わたしたちにとっても大きな喜びでした。被災者の声に耳を傾け、祈りながら語り合いながら与えられる働きを担っていきたいと存じます。