John and Elaine Mehn

Archive for July, 2011

Help Japan

July 27th, 2011 by John



TO GIVE to Japan Relief
TO GO or SEND Teams

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Intensive Prayer July ’11

July 11th, 2011 by John

Japan is not the same and may never be again. We in Christian work talk about this being the “new normal.” What we will be doing in Japan has already changed and probably will continue to change. Four months after the triple disasters there are still many without their homes, many are still to be found, and people continue to suffer physically and emotionally. But the good news is that spiritually people are very open.

Since May Converge Worldwide teams of 2, 7, 10, and 16 have already been deployed to the hard-hit areas. I (John) have been on all these teams working in 7 affected areas. We are cooperating with our Japanese partners the Rengo who are also sending teams. The mission purchased a 10 passenger van to assist the Rengo in sending teams. Later this week the Kokubunji church will be partnering for disaster response with a Japanese congregation in Vancouver, Canada. Pray as a more permanent ministry in the Tohoku area will be developed over the next few months spearheaded by the Rengo and partnered by the Japan Mission. Currently another team, led by Ken and Gerry Milhous, retired missionaries, is working in Ishinomaki City.

The Japan mission continues to recruit some Team Coordinators and also looking for volunteer teams to come in the fall and spring. We are planning to receive teams this fall and need them early next year and the spring. To serve in Japan individually or in a team go to www.convergeworldwide.org/japanmission. We also need you to pray. To pray for Japan and Japan relief http://groups.google.com/group/Pray4Japan. We are constantly posting new updates on Japan disaster response and our ministry updates at www.gospelrest.com. Check them out. Elaine and I recently posted a video outlining our disaster response ministry. Please share this video widely and also encourage your church to show it in their worship meetings. http://www.gospelrest.com/how-are-you-doing/.

The 3.11 triple disasters spotlighted Japan’s need for many more churches. The CPI National Conference will be held Nov 9-11 at Fuji Hakone Land. This conference with the theme of “together” will be a very interactive format and will have a session on “Church Planting in the Wake of Disaster.” We hope together we will all learn compassionate church multiplication. First, pray for the preparations for this historical conference. Second, consider coming to Japan to help with the Children’s Ministry and other ministries.

FAMILY VACATION TIME – Our first grandchild, Molly, will have her baby dedication at Beth’s home church on July 24th. My mother will also be celebrating her 90th birthday with us. And Elaine has a family reunion with her siblings, which is a rare event. Of course, we will spend lots of time with our children Tim and Beth along with others. Pray that we get the rest we both need. Also pray that God would refresh us with himself, teach us and use us at this family time, and that God would grant new visions for the coming months and years.

ELAINE’S MINISTRIES have been growing. One Bible study member is currently on a team in Tohoku. Pray that the women that Elaine relates to would consider their eternal fate and their relationship to God during this time.

Thank you for praying for the EVANGELISM TRAINING for the Crossroad church. The training was very encouraging and went well. All are more motivated to share their faith and all are engaged in sharing “their story” with people in their lives. Pray for new opportunities to do this training again.

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Local Pastor’s Relief Efforts

July 11th, 2011 by John

Andrew Klaus works for Samaritan’s Purse as a church liaison. He recently wrote his reflections about one local pastor doing his best to meet the needs of people affected by the disaster. Our last team was privledged to work briefly at two distribution events handing out futons and also food and supplies.

Today I want to briefly write about one of the workers in Tohoku, Pastor Kishinami from the Kurihara Bible Baptist Church, a church about 1 hour inland from the coast.

It is my estimate that a large majority of churches in Tohoku (the northeastern part of Honshu, the main island of Japan) that have been around for a while have Baptist roots. This is due to historical reasons. Protestant missionaries first came to Japan from the year 1859, and while most denominations focused on work in the larger cities, the Baptists purposely focused their work in rural regions like Tohoku. Some of those churches became part of the Kyodan churches after the war yet still have Baptist roots.

Anyway, Pastor Kishinami is one pastor whom Samaritan’s Purse has supported in the relief efforts. Even though he runs a used car dealership, the senior pastor from his church told him that he can focus his efforts on the tsunami regions, and so he also entrusted his business to others, and has spent the majority of his time in Tohoku from Ishinomaki up to the Kesennuma.

Part of his church has been used as storage and distribution center to take in, sort, and store items until they are taken out.
Earlier efforts focused on getting supplies, many of which were supplied by SP, out to the communities and evacuation shelters, and through that he has been gotten to know and speak to many people.

One method that Pastor Kishinami uses for outreach is the “takidashi”. Takidashi is a common Japanese word used in these emergency times, and the dictionary defines it something like “emergency food feeding to disaster victims”. Many non-Christian Japanese groups who come to help employ it by coming in groups of 20-30 to a neighborhood or small part of town, bring in some very large pots and portable burners, and make either a lunch or dinner, and then serve it to all in the area.

Pastor Kishinami has sought out some more remote and hard hit areas, and where he has made contacts, to do Takidashi, and he will do these at most one or twice per week. Typically these will last 3 hours, which includes an invited church group to sing/talk/do plays etc, the eating of the meal, and a 30 minute Bible message. Often some needed supplies as well a Bible/tracts will also be passed out to each participant at the end. SP usually helps him out by providing the food, and sometimes volunteers to help set up and prepare and serve.

Ask God to strengthen these pastors and church members. This is exhausting work and the needs are not going away. Ask God to send out more workers into his harvest field!

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Woman Tells Her Painful Story

July 11th, 2011 by John

Dr. Ritsuko Narita was on our last team to Shintate Ishinomaki City. She wrote about one family that she had met. This story is still fresh in my mind as well.

Mrs. Matsukawa and her son, Ren, came to Mrs. Komatsu’s house where we were working. She told me that her husband, Mr. Matsukawa, passed away there when the Tsunami hit. They visited the place after 100 days passed. On March 11, Mrs. Matsukawa was on the way home from her work. Mr. Matsukawa and their two sons: Ren (12~13 yrs old) and Sora (10 yrs old) were swept away from their house. Ren was rescued by somebody who lived on the 2nd floor of the apartment, located next to Mrs. Komatsu’s house. Mr. Matsukawa was on the truck in front of Mrs. Komatsu’s house. Ren shouted to his classmate, Eiki, Mrs. Komatsu’s grandson, to rescue his father. So, Eiki cut the curtain, made a long strip, and threw it toward Mr. Matsukawa, but Mr. Matsukawa could not move there because he had hypothermia. Next day, he was found to be frozen to death there. I could not help crying about this sad story.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).”
Ren watched his father’s death on that night. When Mrs. Matsukawa was telling us her story, Ren was emotionless. I cannot imagine how hard watching his father’s death was for Ren. Please pray for Matsukawa Family. I heard that they do not want to live in that area and will move to another place.

Please be in prayer for Converge Worldwide and other volunteers working with people like Mrs. Matsukawa. Ask that God would grant them tremendous compassion to listen and meet their deep heart needs.

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Before and After (but not over pictures)

July 6th, 2011 by John

A friend sent me this link to an article on 3 months after the triple disaster on 3.11. Several of these places I have worked, one with Elaine. We have seen a lot of change in the cosmetic nature of the disasters but for many people they are stressed, some even more so, as time wears on and wears them down. As the article said there are billions of dollars that will take to repair this. Some people will never recover. Already we are hearing of increased suicides amongst the survivors.
I feel this is a great time to be out and helping people. Many are returning to their homes or getting into temporary shelters. They are seeking community that was lost. Now is the time for the church to step forward and bring a community of hope.
I also reported way back in March about Pastor Akira Sato. Here is an update on his and his church’s experience over the last 3 months. http://www.asianaccess.org/a2blog/index.php?op=ViewArticle&articleId=356&blogId=1

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Our Ministry Partner

July 5th, 2011 by John

Pray for our ministry partner Dean Bengtson, Lutheran Brethren Missionary. Today I was pointed to a nice article and photos of our ministry partner Dean Bengtson associate with Samaritan’s Purse. I have known Dean and his wife Linda for many years but we never teamed up for ministry before.


Several photos in this article include people from both Converge Worldwide/Rengo teams that ministered in Shintate in May and June. You may recognize some of the people.

More teams are being mobilized to continue to support Dean in his work to transform this neighborhood physically and spiritually. Continue to pray for Dean and Linda and all those working with them in Ishinomaki, Shintate neighborhood.

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Disaster Response

July 3rd, 2011 by John

Thanks to God we are doing well. These last few months have been far from normal. Living in a country where the largest natural disaster has occurred changes normal significantly. For many people here their lives and businesses are ruined and they have to start over. We have been doing our best to mobilize our Converge Worldwide family along with our Rengo partners to be engaged in this process of transforming Japan. This has led us to travel to the Tohoku region with Japanese and US Converge teams. We are seeing people helped in practical ways and also seeing God work in their lives leading to the planting of new churches.

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