As Sue Plumb Takamoto helped to clear a field of debris in the coastal city of Ishinomaki after the March 2011 tsunami, colorful shards of broken pottery kept catching her eye everywhere she stepped. The shards were all that remained of tearooms and kitchens swept out to sea.
Takamoto and her friends decided to gather the shards and wash them. As volunteers with a new house church network, Be One, they are building friendships and hope, with survivors of the tsunami that took nearly 20,000 lives.
While aid agencies provided basic shelter, food, and health care throughout Ishinomaki, Be One found that there was tremendous need among single mothers for employment. Thus, a creative spark brought to life the Nozomi Project, launched in 2012.
At Nozomi, a Japanese word for hope, mothers and grandmothers create rings, necklaces, and earrings from rice bowl and teacup shards, then sell their jewelry through the Nozomi website and Christian mission agencies. Each woman names her line of jewelry, sometimes after a loved one who perished in the disaster.
Takamoto, who moved with her family to Ishinomaki a year ago, says, "Many of them lost their community—their neighbors are all gone. Their homes are washed away, and they're all living in scattered places across Ishinomaki.
"God can take broken pottery and broken women who think that life is over for them and do anything he wants. We are in the midst of seeing God do amazing things."
Both Christian and non-Christian Japanese are experiencing Jesus differently since the 2011 disaster. Indigenous church leaders and missionaries told Christianity Today that change is bubbling up amid practical ministry to a nation struggling to find ...