Well this certainly is the new normal as our mission has had increased activity on the disaster response front. We have moved from distributing goods, cleaning up, to building, and now a few steps from permanent ministry. Since May I have been up to my neck in disaster response work involved in leading teams of nearly 50 people to Shintate Ishinomaki City from 8 different churches in the US. These include Bethlehem Baptist Minneapolis (John Piper’s Church). Next month I will have a team from Mars Hill (church) in Seattle. There have also been many already in Japan and Japanese who have joined these teams, one a pre-believer from Elaine’s Bible class. Also this does not include the many dozens in teams our denomination has sent throughout Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.
One Converge Worldwide relief partner is Samaritan’s Purse. From our work in Ishinomaki mudding out and de constructing homes, Samaritan’s Purse has a rebuilding program. They want to rebuild over 300 homes by Christmas. In short, as they say, they want to rebuild everything we tore out of the homes.
Along with regular volunteers, we need builders and carpenters to come help us with the rebuilding phase. We need many more workers this fall. Teams will be sent this fall and more can be formed. Pray that God would raise up these workers for this important neighborhood rebuilding ministry. Please contact Converge Worldwide if you are interested in joining a team. http://www.convergeworldwide.org/reach-nations/japan-relief.
The triple disaster in Japan has done at least one thing, eroded or destroyed hope. As missionaries our task is to bring lasting hope to people through the good news of Christ. This PowerPoint video outlines relief ministry of Converge Worldwide and specifically John & Elaine Mehn designed to bring hope to victims of these terrible disasters.
It has been 5 months since the 3.11 triple tragedies in northeast Japan. Many asked me has it returned to normal there yet. As I was working and hanging out with friends in the neighborhood of Ishinomaki I was pondering that question. Today we also drove by the port and through town.
Things have changed at least on the surface, much has been cleaned up, more things are working but it is far from normal. Normal is having bags of garbage piled along the street but being hauled away by trucks more often. Also normal means having a backhoe go up and down your street along with the entourage of dump trucks as they pick up rubble and remove houses. Some traffic lights still do not work. What is normal is the dust, the few that live 24 hours a day in their own home.
At Mrs. T’s house we have workers in and out each day trying to finish cleaning up. In the midst of this is a makeshift living room. It is hard to understand that people can live in a house under construction (and destruction). The other day in the midst of the banging of hammers there was their grandson playing a video game on their TV, both replaced since 3.11. At least for him playing a video game was more normal.
There is progress but this type of rebuilding work takes many man-hours. And each house for over half of this city needs this work. There are not enough carpenters and people with their houses severely damaged hardly can afford them. But at least this is the new normal. It has gone on already too long, and it continues to wear people’s souls. And then there is the rebuilding of hope, the cultivating of the spirit, and directing these people to the compassion of Christ. This may take longer.
What is not normal is how things are changing for those out of their homes. Soon the evacuation shelters will be empty but some still have no place to go. The temporary housing centers are filling up but there are not enough. People are trying to get back in their homes but the damage if frankly overwhelming for them.
This is a crucial time in relief. Now we have moved well beyond rescue and relief. We are now in the rebuilding phase and many are still waiting for a semblance of normal. If anything we need more workers now, we have the volunteer bases, we are prepared to receive teams with orientation and simple systems, and particularly we have lots of work.
INTENSIVE PRAYER TEAM
John and Elaine Mehn
Accelerating Spiritual Renewal and Church Planting Movements
Converge Worldwide (BGC) Missionaries to Japan
This will be short as we are both still technically on vacation.
Thanks for praying for us through July. We have spent a few weeks in the US celebrating John’s 90th birthday (a bit early), visiting with our new granddaughter Molly (who is as wonderful as we were told), having a Pickett (Elaine’s family) reunion, and hanging out with our kids and the rest of our family. This area has had both record heat for July and the largest rainfall on record (due to thunderstorms).
WHAT TO PRAY FOR IN AUGUST
Well we hit the proverbial moving treadmill when we touch down. John is organizing another disaster relief team leaving on the 8th. This team will have participants from Hawaii, St. Louis, and Chicago. This will also be Ken and Gerry Milhouses last team. We will be pleased to have Mas Kobayashi going along too.
Two more teams are scheduled nearly back to back in September. Pray that other Team Coordinators arrive to help out.
August is notoriously hot in Tokyo (hotter than our time in Chicago). As the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami damaged some nuclear power plants we will be without air conditioning for the entire month. This is due to energy conservation in the entire Tokyo area. Elaine does not do well in the heat. Pray for safety and cool thoughts.
Ask God to bless the two Bible studies and a needlepoint class Elaine will have in August.
Pray for key decisions and planning going on as we look forward to this key CPI National Conference in November.
Ask God for creative wisdom for the Rengo National Evangelism Department later this month. John will be attending with the Field Coordinator, Jeff Chapman.