John and Elaine Mehn

Archive for the 'Quake Relief' Category

FAQ – Natural Disasters and Japan

July 5th, 2015 by John

In Japan earthquakes and other disasters are a constant possibility (over 700 per year) and lead to much preparedness by the Japanese. For us, people from the Midwest, earthquake was a new concept when we arrived in Japan about 30 years ago. We cannot say we have gotten used to them but maybe we I have learned to live with earthquakes. Over the last several months there has been much seismic activity. We had a 6.8 and 8.5 magnitude quake and several over 5.0. The great earthquake in on March 11, 2011 was 9.0, one of the top five earthquakes ever in history. We certainly don’t know when they’re going to occur and whether we will be at home or somewhere else. When the big earthquake in 2011 hit Elaine was home and John was on the road, which caused a lot of concern for the two of us. There has also been much volcanic activity in Japan lately. One volcano on Kyushu recently erupted and Hakone Mountain, where the CPI National Conference was held many times, had some volcanic activity, raising one area to Level 3 (out of five). Even Mt. Fuji has spasmodic volcanic activity. But we are fairly out of range of any possible volcanic ash clouds.

Many of our partners, especially in North America, hear on the national news about earthquakes and volcanos in Japan, and some reports raise a bit of concern. Be assured that we are as prepared as we can be. Our cell phones warn us of any earthquake over 5.0. We have food, water and other supplies in case of an emergency. If you hear of any disaster in Japan we encourage you not to worry but to pray for us and those around us. If we have electrical power and working Internet we can get instant information to you on Facebook and our website about what is going on. We just don’t want people unfamiliar with the situation in Japan to worry needlessly. Thanks for caring for us.

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FAQ: How can we help reach Japanese?

March 3rd, 2015 by John

Share Christ with the Japanese

  1. Reach Japanese International Students – Like other unreached people groups, Japan has one of the largest groups of international students in the US. There are many in our home state of Illinois and other areas. See this article. There may be Japanese high school exchange students in your area.
  2. Host an English Homestay through your church. Japanese can come to experience America for 7-10 days and spend time with you. You can partner through a church or Christian school in Japan.
  3. Start an English Bible study for Japanese in your area. A good place to start is placing a flyer in local Japanese restaurants. Not need to know Japanese. Japanese want to learn English.

Pray for the Japanese

Without the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Japan we will not see movements of God like historically in Korea and China. Prayer information on Japan is at Operation World, Operation Japan, and our website.

Partner with Japanese Churches

  1. Send a team on a vision trip to Japan. Visit Japanese churches and build relationships with them that may lead to ministry partnerships. These can be 2-10 people. There will be one Converge team and Acts 29 team next month.
  2. Send a ministry team to Japan. Many Japanese churches could use various English outreaches, children’s ministry, music/drama, and other outreaches.
  3. Invite some leaders to visit you and your church. Recently several Rengo pastors attended our Converge Transformation meeting in the US. Later they visited several churches in the Seattle area.
  4. Invite a team from Japan to learn and minister in your church. Japanese could have seminars on Ikebana (flower arranging), Japanese language classes, Japanese calligraphy, origami (paper folding), Japan pop culture (manga, anime), and many other things.

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Harvest Workers

October 2nd, 2014 by John

14-09-01 Tokyo Mission Team and Mas

Japan Tokyo Team: (Front to Back, Left to Right) Jane Fischer, Elaine, Mary Lou and Tom Ellison, John, Ian Smith, and Mas Kobayashi

Two new workers arrived a few weeks ago to join the Japan team. One came for 6 weeks; one for a career. We are excited to have a new career missionary, one who felt the call to be sent, Ian Smith. Ian has a great passion for planting multiplying churches in Japan. Right now he is in full-time Japanese language studies, essential for in-depth ministry in Japan. Pray as he builds relationships with Japanese and our team and adjusts to his new home in Chiba Tokyo. His vision is to catalyze multiple gospel-driven church planting movements in Japan.

Mas Kobayashi is no stranger to Japan. He was born here but has lived over 20 years in Canada. We have lost count how many times he has come to work as a short-term worker. Thank you to our partner BGC Canada for sending him, again. In past trips he worked at the CPI Conference as a translator, served on two tsunami disaster teams, and helped Rengo churches. The last several times his focus has been strengthening pastoral leaders and churches. In Rengo churches a few are without regular pastors, some pastors have health struggles, and others pastors are just overworked without any sabbatical. Mas blesses these churches by taking the load off for a week or two so these pastors and churches can take a breath. Mas leaves Japan on October 16th after 6 weeks of ministry. Mas will probably return next year. Hopefully some of you would have joined him.

These two personally illustrate what Converge Worldwide Japan is all about: Starting and strengthening churches. We need more Harvest Workers in Japan. We need many more people just like Ian and Mas, both short-term and career. Converge Worldwide Japan is looking for ministry teams, interns for CPI, school teachers, music teams, child care teams, outreach ministry teams, performance teams and IT people for 1-2 weeks, 1-3 months and 1-2 years. Maybe you know someone who could come serve in the 2nd largest unreached people in the world and a strategic world nation. Maybe that someone is you! Please contact us for more information, info@gospelrest.com.

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John Piper and Japan

September 20th, 2014 by John

Many of you probably know him by his writings and Desiring God ministry. John Piper is probably the most widely known pastor in our Converge Worldwide association of churches. He has served on our mission board. He is a Biblical scholar, a mission’s statesman, and a pastor of an exemplary missional church. After the tsunami his church Bethlehem Baptist church sent several teams to work with us in Ishinomaki among disaster victims.

John Piper will be coming to Japan in October for 3 days of speaking events (with many other speakers). We have been waiting for this to happen. Of the 2.6 billion unreached people on our planet the Japanese are the second largest group with 127 million. Missions exists in Japan because worship does not. Pray for Japan, pray for more harvest workers here, pray for these meetings October 11-13.

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Did the Tsunami Change the Church?

June 2nd, 2014 by John

“How Did the Biggest Disaster in the History of Japan Change the Church?”
Reflecting on my limited observations of one JEA denomination, several local churches, and local churches in the disaster area we know.
1) I don’t think for many churches that have changed at all. Yes, they prayed, gave, even some volunteered but for most nothing has really changed. Not unlike the Kobe quake but maybe more involvement this time.
2) Also some churches did not change but were forced to change by passions, missional nature of some people, and their proximity to the disaster area. Many did not want to be involved but were forced to. Some decided not to engage.
3) Yes, I think many churches have changed who have been engaged. They will never be the same again. Several lessons people have learned.
a. When it comes to disaster relief you cannot do this alone. The enormity of the problems are far beyond the scope of one church or even a group of churches.
b. You must partner with others, churches, parachurch groups, relief agencies. Every partner brings certain gifts, strengths and roles to the relationship.
c. And these partners but be in close proximity to the disaster victims. Many churches were not but they could align with ones that were and be a support.
d. Churches and groups are learning that attraction evangelism is not enough, we must be sending churches. Those that learned those lessons continue to change.

So barriers between churches have come down, barriers between the church and communities have come down as well.

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March 10th, 2014 by John

1. Thank you for your prayers for the CPI Gospel Renewal Seminars with the Bancrofts which just completed. All of them were full of blessings and so much was accomplished in developing systems to help more people (update next month).
2. Vision team from Converge Worldwide churches in the US arrives this week. Pray they may find key Japanese partners to work with.
3. John’s training for small group leaders at the Nerima church ends on March 30th. Pray that many of those trained may lead a small group in the near future.
4. Pray for our entire Japan mission as we prepare for our Spring Field Council April 2-4.

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March 10th, 2014 by John

• Ask God to sustain the over 300,000 who lost their homes and are still living in temporary housing. The Ishinomaki house of prayer is addressing the needs of 40 families. There are many other Christian ministries doing the same.
• With over 20,000 dead or missing there is still a lot of loss and grief. Loved ones, friends, classmates, neighbors. Pray that they may be comforted by the listening ear and words of Christians.
• 86 communities are still rebuilding their lives, families, and neighborhoods. Pray for Christian witness to continue to expand in the months ahead.
• Many churches and agencies have sent missionaries and pastors and Christian workers. Pray for their strength and creativity as they continue ministry.
• Pray for Dean & Linda Bengtson, Mr. Hajime Abe and the Ishinomaki House of Prayer that they may see the church planted in the Shintate and Urayashiki neighborhoods of Ishinomaki.

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Disaster – Three Years After

March 10th, 2014 by John

March 11, 2011 is memorialized all over Japan. The triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident are still very fresh in people’s minds. Just last week we received a flyer for a memorial meeting in Machida to remember those who lost so much three years ago. Machida had two deaths due to the earthquake. This month will mark 3 years after the disaster.

Japan Disaster Response – Early on, with the cooperation of North American churches, Converge Worldwide distributed supplies, helped clean up neighborhoods, was on site to listen to many hurting people, and helped rebuild homes in conjunction with ministry partners. Converge Worldwide sent timely funds and sponsored over 250 volunteers on over 20 teams to assist in responding to this disaster. For us that ministry has ended but continues through the lives of our ministry partners.

Ministry in Word and Deed – Elaine and John were in Tohoku in February, first visiting ministry friends in Iwaki City Fukushima and then working in Ishinomaki with our ministry partners. Ministry began with the biggest snowfall in the city in 91 years. Due to the difficulty of driving, we had to cancel John preaching at the Ishinomaki House of Prayer. Instead, we noticed the whole neighborhood shoveling in front of their houses as the city has no plows or equipment for removing snow from the street. This allowed us and Dean & Linda Bengtson to connect with neighbors by helping them shovel out. This was a great connection for the concert to be held the following weekend.

Building Relationships
• Elaine had 4 greeting card classes in which she shared the love of Christ. Nine ladies attended and shared their struggles as they try to emotionally recover.
• John and Elaine were able to meet several families we have helped over the last several years sharing the gospel with them and praying for them.
• John and Dean visited some other families, one man was studying the Bible and we were able to share the gospel story with him. Pray for all these people as they continue to be followed up by local Christians.
• John met with two families that have been helped by Converge Worldwide funds to rebuild their homes. One family hopes to be back in their home in March.
• Our Converge Worldwide Japan mission has been helping a temporary housing center with supplies for the last 3 years. John and Elaine were able to meet with several of the families as they distributed supplies. We were encouraged that after this winter season everyone will be on their feet enough where this will not be needed next year. John was asked to present a short message to them where he shared from John 3:16. Mrs. Abe said that message was more meaningful than I could have shared on Sunday in church.

Planting Churches – From the beginning the ministry of our partners, Dean & Linda Bengtson and Mr. Hajime Abe has been targeted to plant churches in the Shintake and Urayashiki neighborhoods; neighborhoods which never had a church. Well things are moving to the next stage for church planting. One home will be rented later this year to be used as a community center, for housing volunteers, and holding Bible studies and worship services. Our mission has helped get that home ready for occupancy. For video on this next step http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCFcy6wgcvg

From Disaster to the Kingdom of God – Rengo churches and Converge Worldwide teams worked in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures. Many churches have established ministries in the area and also many missionaries have relocated to the area. In Ishinomaki alone, a city of 150,000 before the massive tsunami, there were only 7 churches which averaged about 10 per church. Today there are over 12 churches and numbers have swelled in many of them. One house church has on average 50 people coming weekly! There have been many who have been baptized. Like the rest of Japan, this area is still hard work with the gospel but the days are encouraging for churches throughout Japan.

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February 4th, 2014 by John

Elaine and John will visit Iwaki city and Pastor Mori and his family then head to Ishinomaki. We will be working with Dean and Linda Bengston. Elaine will teach craft classes and John will visit many victims families. Also on Sunday John will preach at Ishinomaki House of Prayer, and we will visit the temporary housing facility where we have been helping with supplies. Pray for safe travel during this winter season, opportunities to listen, build relationships, and share Christ.

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Summer Video Update

August 19th, 2013 by John

This summer we visited 3 churches and gave live brief (3:40) updates. This video includes the PowerPoint slides as well as the audio. Great for your small groups or worship meeting.(Recorded at Faith Church, Grayslake IL). http://youtu.be/0tQv0AHnF5o

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