Japan (MNN) — Typhoon Roke took a swipe at the disaster
zone in Japan.
It also brought evacuations, flooding and more worry to the country struggling to recuperate from the tsunami, quake and nuclear disaster in March. Although a fierce storm, it weakened on approach to Fukushima as a Category 1 hurricane, before veering off. Japan’s government took no chances. Aside from evacuation orders, the weather
agency issued warnings for landslides and flooding throughout the main island
of Honshu, with high waves in coastal areas.
Joe Handley, president of Asian Access says their teams will
continue to do what they've been doing in response to the crisis. They have a three-phase response they've
implemented since the tsunami struck. "The initial stages were just to get a
feel for what was happening, provide immediate assistance as much as possible,
and then to do a discovery process, finding out what the real needs were on the
Cleanup began and ministry teams established a
communications hub in order to developing resources that would
mobilize Christians worldwide to help. Relationships
have already been established, too.
"One of the common stories that's being heard throughout the
eastern part of Japan is from little kids, talking to their parents and
grandparents when they see the aid workers coming. They've become so well known
in their work, that you'll have little kids that say things like 'Grandma!
Jesus is coming! Jesus has brought us food!'"
The second phase began this past summer. Handley says,
"We're able to take in a number of requests for all the areas and
find out strategic ways that we can come alongside the churches in providing
for physical and spiritual relief in this hour." Roke's march may provide a setback in Phase
Two growth, but that remains to be seen once the storm moves out of the
area. IF the network of churches was
well-grounded, it may bolster Phase One response.
Phase Three focuses on the future. "The place where Christ's name
has not been very prominent all of a sudden is becoming quite the story.
Churches are a key force for providing aid. We've come alongside these churches
and helped equip them to be the
centers for relief in their communities."
Asian Access/Japan is preparing to partner with churches
across Japan to be the hands and feet of Jesus and develop a longer-term
plan for holistic church multiplication. Within the next three to five years, Handley says, "There's a dream by
the local churches and a plan that goes with those dreams to see over 1000 new churches planted in this region, all with the mindset of the
holistic outreach center."
Handly goes on to explain
that because the churches meet the needs of the community and have
proven their commitment, doors are opening in ways never imagined. "This part
of Japan is the single most unreached part of the country. So you have not
only one of the largest unreached people groups in the world, but within that
country and this people, you have the single largest area that has been
somewhat neglected by the church."