In the aftermath of the worst earthquake to hit the island of Kyushu last year, senior pastor of Kumamoto Harvest Church Yoji Nakamura found collaborations forged and doors opened up to him and his partners to be a blessing.
During the School of Theology graduation ceremony last month, Yoji Nakamura, founder and senior pastor of Kumamoto Harvest Church in Kumamoto, Japan, came to City Harvest Church to celebrate the graduation of his oldest daughter, Hatsuho. What are his expectations of her now that she has been trained? “I just want to support her in her visions and dreams!” he replied with a laugh.
Nakamura talked about the rebuilding works in his town, Mashiki, in Kumamoto, in the aftermath of the April 2016 earthquake. One of the worst- hit areas had been that town where Kumamoto Harvest Church, a City Harvest affiliate church, is located.
In January this year, Nakamura, along with several other pastors, set up an evangelistic network in Kumamoto involving some 20 churches in Kumamoto, to collaborate on future outreaches and consolidate relief aid. “Before this (earthquake), there was no collaboration between the churches in Kumamoto; now, we gather monthly to pray,” said Nakamura. The network has already received positive response for support from missionaries from the US, China and Korea, who will help in the crucial work of church planting work in Japan.
In addition, Nakamura has collaborated with other community and church leaders to set up a non-profit organization, Kyushu Christ Disaster Assistance Center as a platform to coordinate more concerted relief efforts in the local communities. Most recently, the group has been entrusted by the Japanese government to assist with rebuilding works in Kyushu and Fukuoka after serious floods this past July caused more than 500,000 residents to be evacuated.
With the forging of new partnerships and newly opened doors to serve, Nakamura recalls the test of faith he had faced just a year ago, and how far God has carried him since. Shortly after the earthquake last year, Nakamura’s father died tragically in a fire accident at home. The pastor questioned God and asked why all these bad things were happening all at once. God then spoke to him through Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
God also sent him encouragement in the form of a village head and his daughter from Sendai, whom Nakamura had helped during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Nakamura had brought 100 bicycles donated by CHC to aid with relief work. The village head and his daughter had received salvation when Nakamura witnessed to them.
The duo paid Nakamura a visit after the 2016 earthquake, bringing 10 kilograms of oysters from their farm and cooking for Nakamura and his team.
“Most of the time, especially when hardships come, we look at things in the present, but we have to commit to the eternity of God,” Nakamura said. “That is how we have hope to overcome the challenges that are right in front of us.”
Nakamura also shared that the CHC song “Miracle”, which was translated into Japanes in a music album collaboration between CHC and Fukuoka Harvest Church last year inspired a Japanese Christian songwriter to produce an album with other artists, which was later distributed to various local churches to drive fundraising efforts for ongoing rebuilding works.
Out of much loss and heartache, God’s people in Japan are coming together in unity and faith, meeting needs and bringing the good news of salvation in Christ—slowly, but surely.