City Harvest Church dispatches three disaster relief teams to bring much-needed aid to Kumamoto, Japan in the wake of two earthquakes, including cooking ramen for 300 locals.
On Apr 14, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale shook the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Two days later a second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck; according to the Japanese meteorological agency, this is the first earthquake occuring in Kyushu to register as a 7.
One of the worst hit areas has been the town of Mashiki in Kumamoto, where Kumamoto Harvest Church, a City Harvest affiliate church, is located.
As of Friday, 48 have been confirmed dead and 3,000 injured. Over 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, as aftershocks continue to occur almost every hour.
CHC’s disaster relief team, led by Rev. Kenneth Sim and Naomi Matsuda, arrived in Mashiki on Apr 17 with Kumamoto Harvest Church’s senior pastor, Rev. Yoji Nakamura. According to Nakamura, it was the first foreign relief team to arrive at the scene.
Within four hours, the team cleaned up Kiyama Christ Church, the only church left standing in the area, and set up a mission base there to distribute much-needed supplies. The senior pastor of the church was also pleasantly surprised that the church would be able to hold its service this very weekend, instead of waiting several weeks for the place to be restored.
Matsuda reports that conditions have improved vastly since they arrived—there are adequate relief goods now, and water supply has been partially restored.
Extra help came as the second CHC relief team, comprising 11 people aged 20 to 68, arrived on Apr 20. They delivered supplies to three evacuation centers, helped clean up various homes, restored two other churches, and even assisted the Salvation Army in cooking ramen for about 300 people at one of the evacuation centers.
However, given that many of the inhabitants in Mashiki are elderly, manpower is still needed to clear the debris. The relief team met an elderly man who lived alone; he was sorely in need of help. “Our team cleaned up his house … he was so happy and touched, and walked us out despite having a limp. He went around telling people that Singaporean volunteers were there to visit him … we prayed with him for God’s protection over him,” says Lim Meng Chin from Team 2.
Beyond tangible aid, the locals expressed that the very presence of the volunteers there, despite the on-going aftershocks and tremors, gave them new hope and strength to face the challenge of rebuilding their lives.
The third team departs for Japan on Apr 25.