"I was a fisherman and I have been to over 50 countries. I guess I am retired now, the tsunami forced me to do that because the ocean stole my boat."
"I know that it has been three years but I still cannot believe it happened. I lost everything. I may seem like I'm okay on the outside, but I am not okay. I am not okay at all."
"I grew up in this house and I'm thrilled that my house survived the disaster. However, it's located by the beach and the government wants to build a park there. So either way, I guess I lost everything."
On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook the grounds of Japan. An hour later, a tsunami that reached heights of 30 ft came rushing into the shores; it took not only buildings, but thousands of lives. This disaster caused a nearby nuclear power plant to explode, and forced approximately 185,000 people to evacuate their homes. Death, depression, anger, regret, confusion, hurt, and destruction are just a few emotions that these people experienced. Some survivors of this disaster are still living in temporary disaster relief homes. Doctors, lawyers, and teachers had their livelihoods stolen from them. Families will never be the same because loved ones died without a goodbye. Lifestyles are now based on fear instead of joy.
For the past two weeks, Team Japan has been working with Global Missions Chapel, a local church in Iwaki, Funkashima, Japan. We have built relationships with people who experienced this nightmare. We have cried and laughed with them, knowing that if the true Light of the world could penetrate their hearts, then healing and freedom can finally take place. The quotes above are just a few of the stories we have had the privilege to personally hear. We are blown away by the strength and ambition of the Japanese people. Team Japan has learned a lot about life through this experience. We will never forget the faces of the hurt and broken in Iwaki.
On one of our last days in Iwaki, our contacts took us to a gorgeous lighthouse. This beautiful tower reopened this February after three long years of construction. On top of the lighthouse, the team looked to the ocean; the team saw the beauty in it, as well as the devastation it brought to cities that it swallowed. A lighthouse is tall and attractive. It serves a purpose and is consistent with the job it was created to fulfill. A lighthouse guides ships into the nearby harbor which is their true destination. It has a light that penetrates even the darkest of nights. We can learn a lot from lighthouses. It's almost ironic that we are called to act as a lighthouse.
In Isaiah 42:5 MSG the Bible says, "I am God. I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe. I have set you among my people to bind them to me, and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations, To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light"
We have seen a lot within the past month but one of the many things we are walking away from this trip with is the fact that we stood tall as a lighthouse in Japan. Through God's gift of light in each one of us, we lead the broken to the true comforter and healer. Nothing we did was in our strength, and I thank God that He gave us the opportunity to do life with these people. Thank you for praying over us. Tomorrow we fly back to the States! This trip has been incredible, thank you for listening the our team's heartbeat for this country.
Much love xo, Team Japan