Postscript after Sendai


One month has passed since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami struck the nation of Japan. On 12 April to 16 April 2011, seven of us volunteered for Peacemakers On the Road (Support Edition) to Japan with the purpose of participating in supportive presence of bringing hope for a broken world – Japan and assisting Kanazawa Christ Church’s relief work. We spent a day visiting friends in Tokyo before heading up north to Sendai to help with the relief work. This is a postscript of our POR trip.



Alan Yeo:

My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of Japan and her people since 11 March 2011. To me, this is Japan’s greatest hour of need and the least I could do was to pray and weep on behalf of Japan. When the opportunity came and Dale asked me whether I was certain of gong, I just felt compelled to go despite the fear and uncertainty of the news surrounding Fukushima. I knew I could not do much but at least I could go and encourage some of our friends and the people in Japan. The recovery process seems daunting. I was stunned by the tonnes of garbage sprawled along the streets of once a serene neighbourhood. It had already been a month and the people were still cleaning up their houses. Working as a team, we only managed to shovel the mud in a small portion of the playground, remnants of the tsunami. It was reported that the tsunami generated 16 years of garbage, more than the nation can handle. Participating in this relief work, I am reminded that the recovery process is going to be a long haul and every little effort counts – it begins with a willingness to go, a willingness to help, a willingness to be bring the hope and good news of Christ that is so much needed. Let us continue to pray for Japan.


Alex Lee:

Just before departure, I was still very unsure about the trip even though the Holy Spirit had assured me. During the trip, I have learnt a lot of lessons that had strengthened my faith. The Japanese, despite the calamities that had fallen upon then, remained very positive. Those people, whose houses were damaged by the tsunami, were still smiling and they were still very polite. When we told them we're Singaporeans and we were there to volunteer for the relief work, they immediately bowed and thanked us. They also apologized for the trouble. Sometimes, I wondered if that were to happen to me, what would my response be. I pray that I would not live to find out that answer. I am very encouraged by the positiveness of the Japanese towards life. But that also tells me the more they needed God. Not being able to do much for them, I left Japan with a heavy heart.


Clinton Shi:

I had always wanted to visit Japan. Being the last of the ‘Four Asian Tigers’ that I had yet to visit, I must admit that I was pretty excited for this trip, although I wished it were in a different context. Through this trip, I've learnt how to put my faith in the God who never fails to deliver and grant peace that surpasses all understanding. To say that I was not worried about possible aftershocks and radiation exposure would be a lie. However, God has proven Himself by ensuring the safety of the team throughout the 5 days. After witnessing the amount of relief efforts pouring in from different countries to deal with the magnitude of the devastation Japan has sustained, this trip has also caused me to realise how God specializes in building new relationships, friendships, and hope amidst brokeness. I thank God for granting me this opportunity to experience God's love and grace for the nation of Japan. But not only that, God has placed each and every member on this team for a very specific and personal reason. For me, God has allowed me to witness how great His compelling love for mankind is, such that it has the ability to break all geographical and language barriers. I am certain that this trip is one of my life's greatest milestones. It has taught me that should I have the willingness to go, God's provision, faithfulness and goodness will never cease to prevail.


Dale Lim:

I asked myself, "Our efforts seemed so minute compared to the immensity of the problems and needs of the aftermath. Does it matter that we go and participate?'  Then I remembered Desmond Tutu in his book Made For Goodness saying "Sometimes our acts seem too small and solitary to divert the course of history. Our stand or our suffering may represent the proverbial drop in the bucket. But, as Mpho likes to point out, there is always one final drop that makes the bucket overflow" (Desmond Tutu & Mpho Tutu)


Eric Chow:

When the magnitude 9.0 quake struck Japan on 11 March 2011, Marilyn and I were in Tokyo. It was supposed to be the last day of our trip. When the quake took place, we were in Shibuya doing our last minute shopping. We had also experienced many aftershocks soon after the quake that was beyond description. Tele-communication and public transports were down. People were in confusion and disorder. I had been to Japan more then 10 times but had never seen the city in such a state of chaos. It took us two hours to walk back to our hotel and we found out that our flight was cancelled. Airport was closed and hotels were all fully booked because people were unable to go back to their homes. We did not have a room to stay for the night. The next day, we managed to check into a hotel and we were devastated by the news shown on TV. We couldn’t believe our eyes that such catastrophe would happen to Japan. The tsunami had claimed many lives and destroyed properties. At that moment I had the desire to help, but it was just a thought … The desire of going back to help came to past when Pastor Dale mentioned that the church would be organizing a Peacemakers On the Road trip to Japan. Despite radiation spewing from the damaged reactors of Fukushima crippled nuclear power plant and possibilities of another earthquake and tsunami hitting Japan again; I was determined to respond to the call. I really did not know what I could do for Japan, as my strength is limited but Marilyn encouraged me with the quote of Mother Teresa who said, “We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.” This would be the motivation for this trip and Marilyn assured me further that “Love has no fear, I believe God will protect us.” We visited east of Matsushima (Sendai). My heart wept when I saw the actual devastated site. I hope what we’ve done had brought hope and support to the Japanese people and I wish I could contribute more.


Jason Tan:

This POR Japan trip (12 to 16 April 2011) has changed my perspective about the Japanese. The country is economically strong. Its people are well mannered. The nation is a very organized society. But spiritually, they are in poverty. So the gospel of love has to reach them. They need it. 1 John 4:10-12 tells us, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”


Ang Quee Beng:

Being in Sendai, Japan during this trip is quite an experience for me. As we met with other Christians from Yokohama, Okinawa, Kanazawa and America, a sense of belonging overwhelmed deep within me. Although I can’t speak Japanese, and on few occasions almost mix up “Arigato” (thank you in Japanese) with “kamsa hamida’’(thank you in Korea), the oneness I felt while we travelled together up to Sendai, while we ate together along the way, while we worked together up there is something that is beyond nationality differences.  The differences we have in our cultures, languages or even our thinking does not erase the identity that we have in Jesus as Christ followers. We were there with the same purpose and motive, to help those in needs during this time of pain and suffering. Our differences seem so distant as our similarity of our intentionality in helping those in needs were right in front of us.