During a recent Foursquare Missions International (FMI)-sponsored relief and compassion trip to Japan, Tokyo Pastor Chu Kosaka was a natural at drawing crowds. As the driver of one of the vans taking teams into some of the hardest hit areas of the Tohoku disaster, he posed at every stop when locals brought out cameras and serenaded them when asked to play a few songs.
His fame as one of Japan’s best-loved rock icons from the 1960s and 1970s set the stage to make a difference for the kingdom of God. Each month Chu—the first Japanese rock star to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine—travels into the heart of the decimated region to conduct prayer and worship gatherings. His presence there is a welcome sight to the people as the world’s spotlight on their plight slowly diminishes.
Many consider Japan one of the least-reached nations with the gospel; of the 128 million people in Japan, less than 1 percent attend a Christian church. Since the earthquake and tsunami, local pastors and Christians from around the world have set their sites on reaching the Japanese people with the love of Jesus Christ and the practical assistance they need to recover.
Among those who regularly reach out is Renee Williams, Foursquare missionary to Hirosaki, Japan. Renee drives 10 hours round-trip to deliver food, clothing and other necessities to strangers, many of whom survived the tsunami with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The Japanese government has made a great effort to restore essential services, but many people have fallen through the cracks. It’s to these people that Renee hopes to minister.
While some Christians may view disaster relief as a diversion from the church’s “proclamation ministry,” FMI Associate Director–U.S. Missions Ted Vail says it is one of the greatest expressions of Christ’s love that is right in line with our mission.
“In this case,” Ted tells Foursquare.org, “the physical proclamation precedes the verbal one.” He points out that not long after World War II, Foursquare missionaries brought supplies to stranded Japanese islanders as a demonstration of the gospel.
“Today we have this opportunity again,” he maintains. “There has been a generous outpouring of resources, personnel and prayer that is making a difference in a very hard place.”
Japan’s Foursquare churches have raised funds—with additional financial help provided by FMI and U.S. Foursquare churches—to secure a house and a vehicle in the Sendai region to help host relief teams, according to David Masui, a church planter and the former national leader of Japan Foursquare.
Foursquare’s area missionary to North Asia (name withheld for security reasons) elaborates: “Our intention is to continue to partner with Japan Foursquare in this endeavor for at least two years. Additional assets will be placed on the ground with the intention of connecting our joint relief and compassion efforts with evangelism, discipleship and church planting.”
Foursquare pastors and leaders in Japan were encouraged during their national convention this summer. Ralph Moore —senior pastor of Windward Oahu Foursquare Church (Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay) in Hawaii and keynote convention speaker—assured delegates that revival has come to Japan. Foursquare Missionary Steve Niksarian in Sendai says pastors received Ralph’s prophetic word to the nation in spite of the long shadow cast by the Tohoku disaster that took the lives of at least 25,000 people.
More than 1,500 miles of Japanese coastline were affected by the tsunami, and 95 percent of commercial fishing boats were destroyed. Soil liquefaction has caused structural damage in 10 of the country’s 47 prefectures (jurisdictions) as far away as 100 miles inland. Ongoing help is needed to continue to rebuild Japan, Steve Niksarian insists.
“This disaster is something that no nation, let alone a national church, is fully prepared to deal with independently,” he asserts.
Although the task is challenging, Foursquare leaders throughout Japan still join the Psalmist in declaring: “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety” (Ps. 61:2, NLT).
For more information and to give toward Japan relief efforts, log on to the Foursquare Relief and Compassion website.
By: Rod Light, an ordained Foursquare minister and educator in Los Angeles