A pastor reports from Japan

Rev. George Young is happy to be alive following the massive earthquake, tsunami and ongoing problems at nuclear power plants north of his home in Japan.

Like so many others, the missionary is paying close attention to reports of what will develop following the damage to reactors from a tsunami created by the earthquake that hit the country.

In an e-mail message sent this week to Christian Reformed World Missions, a sister ministry of ThinkChristian, Young said life was difficult and confusing in the aftermath of the major disaster in the northeast portion of Japan, where he lives. For one thing, he finds he has to try to make sense of the reports and rumors that he is hearing.

"The realtor who represents our landlord came to check the house for structural damage. In the conversation he told me that Public Television advised people in coastal areas to be aware that there is a 70 percent possibility of an aftershock as large as 7.0 on the Richter scale within the next three days," said Young.

If that is true, he wonders if there is any "use trying to attach furniture to the wall, which I should have done before, until things have calmed down. I wonder if my return to Hasaki (where he lives) was premature, and whether I should return to higher ground."

After the earthquake hit last week, he knew it was bigger than anything he had yet experienced. He dove under the dining room table, which is made of sturdy planks.

"As soon as the major shaking and rocking subsided, I knew I had to seek higher ground. Six blocks or so from our house is a hill, maybe 30 feet above sea level, which I climbed, and was soon joined by many others," said Young.

They saw fishing trawlers steaming out of the harbor at full speed and they saw the sea drawing back and a "small" tidal wave wash over the breakwater. "We all waited about 45 minutes for the estimated arrival of this big one, but it did not arrive," he said.

After about an hour and a half of waiting, he returned home, packed up and left for the Ushibori Bible Camp that is 45 minutes northwest of his home, located on top of a hill. He teaches English Conversation and Japanese Bible twice a month at the camp.

Sunday morning, he led a small worship service in the home of a family that lives in Ushibori and are members of the local Choshi Church. He also visited two others who are shut-ins in Ushibori.

"As the aftershocks became smaller and smaller, I decided to return to Hasaki on Sunday afternoon," he wrote. "The whole town is on edge, and the fires in the industrial district of Kamisu City, just north of Hasaki where I live, are still burning. Reports of the explosion, radioactive leaks and efforts to contain the damage, and at the same time of evacuations from the area of the nuclear electric plant in Fukushima a couple of hundred kilometers north of us, complicate the situation."

As of Wednesday, Young had left the area to stay in Tokyo. Fearful as the situation is, he relies on his faith in God and asks for continued prayers for God’s love, mercy and grace for families of those who died in the tsunami near Sendai and other parts of the Tohoku in the region of Honshu northeast of Tokyo. He says he continues to rely upon and preach about Christ.

"I urge you to pray for the people of Japan as a whole, that tragedies like this will change their hearts, and move them to seek Christ, the Savior who is seeking them," he said.

Chris Meehan is news and media manager for the Christian Reformed Church. To donate to the Japan relief effort through one of ThinkChristian's sister ministries, click here.

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Our prayers are with Japan. I believe it is of vital importance that in this time of tragedy that we pray for the families there as though they were our families. I think God is crying out for the people of Japan through His church with an even greater intensity. Now is the time of the harvest.

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