Redeeming Disaster in Japan
In Disaster Relief 3.0, the local church—not just relief experts—moves to restore itself as God's chosen instrument for the health and charity of a community, especially before, during, and after disaster. This idea is much more intensive than church-based community outreach.
It places the local church where they should be, in the community and in the midst of a crisis, and does so no matter how small it is or how great the surrounding hostility. It fosters relationships at all levels (social, economic, and institutional). It creates meaningful partnerships centered on the local church in disaster-stricken communities in all stages of disaster response.
This begins by carefully listening to victims, to the quiet voice of Jesus, and to one another. It also means listening to possibilities, not just immediate needs. It brings to my mind Lamentations 3:19–21, "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope."
Relational relief is a ministry of Holy Saturday—caught between the pain and suffering of death on Good Friday and the hope of resurrection on Easter Sunday.
One Sunday a few months after the triple disaster, there was a major aftershock. Sumiyoshi prayed with his congregation: "We had an earthquake this morning again. I pleaded you, [God], not to give us any more suffering. However, we believe that everything is in your hands.
"As Jesus walked toward the cross a long time ago, he is walking toward the nuclear plant now. He is kneeling there and praying for us. Jesus made a promise that his spirit would be with each of us. We have so many sorrows, suffering, and pain in our lives. Because of the promise of Jesus, we can persevere and have hope."
Soohwan Park is an associate with the Marketplace Institute, Regent College, Vancouver. Her blog, En Route to Fukushima, has stories from Fukushima.