Japan (MNN) — Next Saturday marks six years since a deadly triple disaster — an earthquake-tsunami-nuclear combination — rocked Japan and killed over 15,000 people.
On the afternoon of Friday, March 11th, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan. Less than an hour later, the first massive tsunami waves started rolling in. Some traveled inland as far as six miles, according to LiveScience.com.
The tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, releasing radioactive materials into the ocean. As stated here, radiation levels are still a matter of concern.
“The tsunami itself died out a long time ago, but the effects in Japan will be there for decades,” Vasily Titov, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Tsunami Research, told Live Science.
Asian Access was among the first to respond to the triple disaster, immediately mobilizing their broad network of church leaders.
Today, Asian Access is still helping survivors. President Joe Handley says their steady presence is having an “interesting” effect.
“They were so moved by the Body of Christ in action and it really changed the nature of the perception of the Church in Japan,” he notes.
Before 2011, most Japanese viewed Christianity as a “Western” religion, or cult. Now, says Handley, missionaries have built trust within the community and more people are open to the Gospel.
“They see that this Christian thing is not just a foreign religion, mainly because [the] Japanese churches have been right there on the ground serving.”
One pastor told Handley a new day is dawning, saying, “Joe, our country is not reached for Christ and these people are desperate for the hope He has to bring. Now is the season that we can bring that. We need help in these mission networks to reach the country for Christ.”
Along with evangelistic opportunity, much recovery work remains.
“We need tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands, to come into these communities and help out. Perhaps God has put it on your heart to give,” Handley says.
“Or, maybe you would like to serve on a team…we are looking for people who will come and serve in these communities.”