Fukushima in 10 years.
Before March 2011, Fukushima, third largest prefecture of Japan, was home to two million people many of whom were farmers, fishermen, or involved in agri-business and seafood industries. Two nuclear power plants generated electricity for Tokyo metropolitan areas and generated jobs for people in the towns surrounding the plants. The devastating nuclear accidents in Fukushima Daiichi Plant (No. 1 Nuclear Plant) following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11 changed everything for people who lived around the power plant, destroying the prefecture’s beautiful coast and nearby land. Many lost their homes, jobs, community, and more importantly, a promising future for their children. Ten years later less than 30% of people who were affected by the disaster have returned to the disaster-stricken areas. The government declared the completion of decontamination of the areas, but the mounting tasks of human, communal and ecological recovery have barely begun.
Before March 2011, there were overt 140 local churches in Fukushima. Many of them closed after the triple disaster and only a handful of them stayed open to serve their hurting neighbours.
I have been privileged to visit Fukushima, with Midori's help, for the last ten years to walk with some of the most resilient people I've never met. During this Lent, I will be "meeting" three of them to hear their stories of following Jesus for the last ten years in Fukushima. I will post more stories after each meeting with them, but here is the plan for now.
On March 16 (the morning of 17th , Japan time), Midori and I will meet with Pastor Toyomi Sanga of Grace Garden Chapel in Koriyama.
On March 22 (the morning of 23rd in Japan), Pastor Ken will join us online.
On March 25 (the morning of 26th in Japan), we will meet Rev. Sumiyoshi.
Rev. Eiji Sumiyoshi is the pastor of Nakoso Christ Church (50 km south of Fukushima Daiichi) and planted Futaba Hope Church, just 11 km south of Fukushima Daiichi a couple of years ago. He envisions that the church will offer the hope of Christ to returnees in the area in tangible ways to help rebuild their disaster-stricken town. This is consistent with the call he received from Jesus who appeared to him in a dream soon after the disaster.
Here is the map of the four churches in Fukushima below.
The two faces of technology.
The nuclear disaster is clearly a man-made one because we abused technology. But now I am enabled by technology to be able to connect virtually with dear friends in Fukushima. Now I hope the readers may join these faithful disciples of Jesus in prayers during this month.