What would you do if 40 homeless families arrived in your neighborhood? What would your church do in a major national disaster? How would you meet the needs of so many who lost their loved ones? This was the challenge for Mr. Hajime Abe the chairman of the Ishinomaki House of Prayer church. He quickly got involved with ministry partners like Dean Bengtson in addressing the distress in his community. Here are just two very tragic but similar stories about his involvement.
One woman lost her son in the record tsunami and her house was badly damaged. The city was without water so the church distributed bottled water in her neighborhood. She was very distraught at the loss of her son, her home, and her future. She was contemplating means to commit suicide. But then a voice entered her mind, “The church people helped you with water, maybe they can help now too.” She went to the church where she is hearing about the Savior and also healing emotionally from the disaster. Every time I visited the church, there she was. She seems emotionally stronger each time.
Another woman, Mrs. Abe lost her daughter in the tsunami. After the disaster, the church gave her rare gasoline so she could see her body and make funeral arrangements. Now she is leading tea groups and quilt groups in the local temporary housing facility where she meets with people just like her who lost loved ones. She shares with them the hope in Christ.
Mr. Hajime Abe is a retired school teacher who just had his 73rd birthday. He is a big-hearted, compassionate man who had a plan for a Christ bridge to his community in the wake of the disaster. The church has established some ongoing ministries to assist the traumatized 40 families in the nearby Temporary Housing Facility. Each week they have tea time, Pastor Hirata of SOLA ministry comes weekly to minister to the children, they have a bimonthly quilt class taught by Mrs. Abe of the church. There is also a monthly Bible reading class, and a music appreciation class. Our Converge Worldwide Japan Mission has channeled some of our World Relief Funds through his church to assist people directly in his neighborhood. We have distributed supplies and last winter we helped them with heating oil.
Mr. Abe’s philosophy and strategy has always been to holistically impact his community in the Name of Christ. They are well connected and influencing their community. If the church disappeared there would be a gaping hole. Mr. Abe and his church are a good example of “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Actually there are many heroes working in Japan and many in the disaster area. Mr. Abe is transforming his community through word and deed ministry. I just wanted you to get to know one close to my heart.