Japan (MNN) — Young people are looking for something "normal" as they try to recover from not one, but two major earthquakes. Missionaries with SEND International are trying to give young people something "normal." That's why they held a soccer camp during Spring Break.
15-year veteran missionary Ann Marie Smoker says when the municipal soccer camps in Tokyo were shut down because of the radiation scare and the rolling back outs, "We decided to do soccer camps. We contacted local churches and people in the community and opened up soccer camp Monday through Friday 9:00 to 3:30; we had 100 to 130 kids daily."
According to Smoker, this was an unusual turnout for a Christian event. "Most of the kids came because they had nothing else to do; during Spring break they usually have their sports camps, private club and church camps. There are all kinds of things that conflict."
About half of the young people were from non-Christian families.
Smoker says it was more than a soccer camp: they always shared the Gospel. "Sometimes some of the kids would leave before noon. When we broke up, a pastor from a local church would come and share the Gospel. So we did that every day."
Many parents would come back to feed their children, which allowed them to hear the Gospel.
Smoker says not only were they teaching soccer skills and sharing the Gospel, they were also able to raise much-needed funds for earthquake relief through CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope). "We just advertised saying it was a free clinic offered to the community, and we would like to raise funds for CRASH. So kids would come with their coins. You could tell, the kids were saving their allowance."
SEND continues to work through local churches in the region to help the earthquake victims. If you'd like to contribute to their efforts, click here.