Heading toward a new stage
Tohoku HELP came into existence on March 18th. The official name for this organization is "Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network", and was commenced in the "United Church of Christ in Japan Tohoku Parish Center" being regarded as to belonging to Sendai Christian Alliance.
When this organization was founded, Reverend Takashi Yoshida (Pastor of the Reformed Church in Japan placed in Sendai / Representative of Sendai Christian Alliance) became its representative, Yoshihisa Akiyama Contribution Administrator (Pastor of Japan Alliance Christ Church, Sendai Nozomi Church / Administrator of Sendai Christian Alliance), Takeshi Tanaka treasurer (Church member of Conservative Baptist Association of Japan Taga Bible Baptist Church / Finance), Shigeru Kikuchi Inspector (Full Gospel Sendai Church member / Administrative Scrivener), Naoya Kawakami (Senior Pastor of the United Church of Christ in Japan, Sendai Citizen Church), and Reverend Shoei Abe secretariat, (Pastor of the Japan Church of the Nazarene Sendai Tomizawa Church) These were the ones chosen for this work, and it is such a blessing, that all of them are still with us now.
Administrator board order was arranged by cooperating with other organizations, right after the kick off. This helped the establishment of Foodstuff Radiation Level Measurement Station. Reverend Nozomu Konishi then joined as corporate inspector, (Senior Pastor of the United Church of Christ in Japan Sendai Kita Church), Kiyoshi Nagashima as advisor (Church member of the United Church of Christ in Japan Nishi Nasuno / previously staff at the Asian Rural Institute), and Claudia (Missionary sent by UMC), Reverend Takashi Hoshina as the Institute Head of Food Stuff Radiation Measurement Station (senior pastor of the United Church of Japan Sendai Higashi Ichibancho Church) and Reverend Yoshinobu Akashi (Pastor of the United Church of Japan Joban Church), Reverend Keiji Kida as the institute head of Koriyama Radiation Measurement Station (Pastor of Mission Tohoku Koriyama Christ Gospel Church), Reverend Masayoshi Nakano as Sendai Measurement Station Chaplin (Pastor of Conservative Baptist Association Izumi Bible Baptist Church), Reverend Cho Yong Sang as the administrator of Sister Church Project (Chaplin of Ishinomaki Ochakko House), Hanae Igata as the corporate commissioner (Japan Baptist Convention Nankodai Christ Church), and Reverend Tatsuo Nakazawa (Pastor of Christ’s Holy Harmony Group Nishi Sendai Church). These people brought the current structure.
Tohoku HELP as an organization to come under Sendai Christian Liaison Committee, contributed to open a new capability for disaster relief aid. This capability was to cooperate with other religious groups at the disaster affected area. Sendai Christian Liaison Committee received an attention that it could become a counter-partner for “Incorporated Association Sendai Buddhist temple”. Also, Sendai Christian Liaison Committee has the United Church of Japan Tohoku Parish Senen Area’s (current Miyagi Center Area) pastor meeting as a parent organization, and having the same birthplace made a great connection with Miyagi Prefecture Religious Corporation Liaison Council. In this way, cooperated organization of various religious people “Mental Counseling Centre” was established by the partnership of medical staff and scholars, with its activity on-going and developing.
Tohoku HELP started on March 2011, with the plan of activating only for a month. And yet, its period is still being extended. After being extended for three months, and then up to a year, one objective stuck out. And that objective was to thank the whole world at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Busan Convention which was planned to be held in the autumn of year 2013.
When this objective was established, it seemed to be an excessive goal for us. But now this has already become the things of the past. A new year 2014 is already around the corner, and the new stage could be seen though still vaguely.
2. The Prospect of year 2014
What is a new stage? We think that this would become clear to us in the year 2014. Maybe it would become clear to us as the impact of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident is actualized (or maybe when it becomes clear that this was just an imaginary fear).
“Prefectural Health Care Survey’s” full-scale investigation by Fukushima Prefecture will be commenced on April 2014, mainly in the eight towns and villages, which were exposed to radiation, and in Fukushima City and Koriyama City. It is said that low level radiation takes time till it is actualized, and some say there would be NO effect. Rough conclusion for this argument would possibly be drawn during this year. And maybe, this would become a thing that would show us the new stage.
Together with it, our mission at Tohoku HELP would be supporting the daily lives of the churches which experienced the earthquake disaster, and to stand alongside and accompany the disaster afflicted victims in the coastal area which extends to 500 kilometers. It would be a very precious year where Tohoku HELP will need to engage in its own mission faithfully, and to find a clear new stage.
3. Our Field
Aiming for WCC and passing this point, Tohoku HELP has now been embedded in to the wide-range network inside and outside the country. Sendai Christian Liaison Committee, a rather small Church network stationed in a countryside, expanded its field to the size of this world through the prayer of many. This is a very joyful thing and an honour, and we are very grateful for it. However, Tohoku HELP has not changed since it was founded, and still values “the field”, to turn a hearing ear to “the field”, and would want to remain in “the field”. This is because we think that the word of God in the Bible would be heard through the sorrowful moaning of people who are threatened by anxiousness and isolation. When we stand in the field, we are able to meet with a God who uses us though we are small and weak. These things are repeatedly written in the Bible. Tohoku HELP wishes to stand firm on this fact.
A conference was held at the end of last month to reconfirm these things, where we talked about the relief aid for Minami Sanriku and Kesen Numa City Motoyoshi Town in which we deployed an aid for a handicapped child and the mother in Kesen Numa City Motoyoshi Town, together with WCRP and International Hunger Countermeasure Organization of Japan. In this conference, Reverend Akiyama a person in charge of this relief aid started talking about the fundamental rule of relief aid.
“In the disaster affected area, restoration is carried out mainly by non-handicapped person, grown up men, and the healthy. Don’t you think that we will find a real possibility when we carry this out not with mainly strong people, but mainly with those who are not strong? We have one handicapped child here. Let’s think of it from scratch with this kid being the main person. Care for these kinds of children creates community. The community runs an economy. Running economy supports the region. Wouldn’t it be possible to have the order of things in this way? I would want to take this kind of new restoration method in Kesen Numa’s Motoyoshi Town.
Building everything up with the weak ones by putting them in the middle of our field – we think that this principle will not change even under the huge and serious challenges of Fukushima being exposed to radiation, nor in a new phase of cooperating with other religious groups, and neither in the world wide solidarity. And we think that this is the principle that should not be changed in any situation.
4. Heading toward a new stage
Tohoku HELP in order to respond to the Global solidarity, decided to collect contributions to aid Philippines. Then in January, it was decided that a liaison conference would be held in the Philippines. Special advisor Nagashima participated in setting up this field, and Tohoku HELP was made in charge to use its contribution, to pay for the transportation expense for all the organizations that would assemble. Here are some examples of the use of knowledge, which we have acquired from the Tohoku Earthquake. In this way, we were able to remind ourselves that there are things “the church could do”.
Tohoku HELP has been discovering new things “the church could do”, since March 18th of year 2011. The new stage which was only seen vaguely, will through this new discovery show its clear outline. Herein I would like to greet you all for this new year, and request for your prayer and support more than ever.