Jeff Johnston

"We want to show people Jesus Christ's love"

by Jeff Johnston

shiogama-church-front2SHIOGAMA, JAPAN (A2) - What are Japanese churches doing in response to the devastation brought by the earthquake and tsunami? That's what I went to Sendai with some colleagues to find out.

Long after the story of the tsunami has faded away . . . when the media have left to cover other stories . . . after the 'compassion fatigue' has set in and people forget about the plight of thousands of Japanese . . . local churches will still be there—in the trenches—helping.

Three Asian Access staff were invited to Sendai by pastors in our leadership development network. They wanted us to see the situation firsthand.  Hopefully you've already heard Pastor Chida's impassioned plea for a "Tsunami of Love."

Our team wanted to encourage our brothers, to bring some supplies and to tell their story without getting in their way.  Since Asian Access is channeling relief funds through our network of Japanese churches, we wanted to see the kind of work they're doing.

We are so proud of them.  They are rising to the challenge.  In the coming weeks, we hope to tell a few of their stories—stories that represent the larger work of God right now that you likely are not hearing reported.


Shiogama Bible Baptist Church is a church we visited.  The senior pastor, Rev. Yukikazu Otomo has been involved in Asian Access' leadership development ministry (JCGI Network) for quite some time. His son is Assistant Pastor Yukimasa Otomo, who is helping to head up the relief ministry of the church.

shiogama-church-sanctuaryIn this brief video interview, Otomo Sensei (Jr.) shares that his desire is for the church to touch people's hearts by showing them the love of Jesus Christ. The church has mobilized 50+ volunteers, mostly young Japanese Christians.  At night they sleep on the floor of the first floor of the church.  Every day, these volunteers grab food & supplies from the second floor of the church (sanctuary) to deliver where needed.  They also serve people by cleaning the mud out of their houses.

These people are servants who are not seeking to promote themselves in any way, but who are simply trying to be Jesus' hands and feet.

This exemplary church is not alone; hundreds of churches are helping in similar ways. During difficult times, the Church is often at her best.

If you do not see a video player, you can view it here.


How will you be involved?

Will you help to resource Japanese churches for the work of rebuilding lives and restoring hope?  Let's honor our brothers and sisters by serving them and giving them the resources they need.

Please continue to pray for God to use His Church to show Jesus Christ's love to the Japanese. Consider getting a relief team together from your church or school fellowship to serve in Japan this summer—right alongside of our Japanese brothers and sisters, members of His beloved Church.


More information...

A2's Japan Tsunami Page:


read full article

Churches from all over Japan are delivering physical and spiritual aid through local churches in the affected areas.

by Jeff Johnston

shiogama-front-sunSHIOGAMA, JAPAN (A2) - What are Japanese churches doing in response to the devastation brought by the earthquake and tsunami?  In Part 1, we learned from Pastor Yukimasa Otomo that they are trying to show people the love of Christ.

In this clip, Pastor Hajime Gohira of Sekiyado Chapel (Keisen Christ Church) shares that his group of churches has sent financial donations, as well as supplies to local churches in the disaster zone.

In fact, Japanese churches all over the country are donating supplies and volunteers to deliver both physical aid to Japanese people.  Churches were among the first to respond.  They are partnering with local churches, like Shiogama Bible Baptist Church in the hard-hit areas, hoping that Jesus will shine brightly into each of these communities.

But churches are also sending volunteers, including their pastors!  And with shovels in hand and boots on their feet, they are going house to house asking for how they can be of service.

Pastor Gohira says that when these volunteers from other churches go out to help in whatever ways they can, they do so under the banner of that particular local church in each community.  This practice opens the door for these churches to follow up on these people in the future.  People in plight are quite happy to receive a helping hand at such a tough time in their lives.

Pastor Gohira graduated from Asian Access' leadership development program (JCGI Network) a few years ago.  We are thrilled to see pastors and churches involved in this relief ministry stand in the gap during this critical phase of relief.

If you do not see a video player, you can view it here.

How will you be involved?

You can pray that God's love and gospel would go out into each community . . . or give financially to help provide supplies for these churches . . . or help get a relief team together from your church or school fellowship.


More information...

A2's Japan Tsunami Page:

Part 3: Assessing for Relief, Committed to Long Haul Recovery

by Jeff Johnston

SENDAI, JAPAN (A2) - What is the Church in Japan doing with tsunami relief?

In our visit to Sendai, we saw many Japanese churches that had already sent funds, several loads of relief supplies, and volunteers to be a part of delivering immediate aid. You can read more and see a video clip here in part 2.

Assessing Rapidly Changing Needs for Relief

Tsunami ripped open this house and desolated the neighborhoodIn addition to being relief hubs, Japanese churches are really assessment centers.  They have people on the ground in the impacted neighborhoods and have firsthand witness to what the needs are.

Assistant Pastor Masatoshi Ohkita of Midorino Chapel (Keisen Christ Church) says that these needs are rapidly changing.  People from his church in Ibaraki prefecture have already visited three times in the last few weeks.  Each time they come north, the needs are dramatically different.

Local churches are in a position to understand what needs people currently have and are positioned to deliver the right kind of aid.  For example, if people need clothes rather than food or baby diapers, it's often the churches who know first and are making appeals to their church partners to provide it where needed.  Churches can call each other for transferring supplies more expeditiously than going to a huge warehouse further away.

Connecting with Community Gatekeepers

We also learned from interacting with our initial A2/CRASH assessment team that these volunteer teams going out from the local churches often connect with local neighbors who serve as gatekeepers and informants to say who needs what.  These gatekeepers or "men/women of peace" as they are called need your prayers as they are exposed to the gospel in action.  They are strategically placed on the front lines, and are working very closely with believers to help their neighbors.  This is a huge opportunity to share spiritual aid in addition to physical aid!

Committed to Recovery Over the Long Haul

Pastor Ohkita emphasized that his group of churches (Keisen Christ Church) is committed for the long haul. And frankly this is the case of most Japanese churches. The Japanese government is doing a lot and the relief agencies are currently serving in tremendous ways. However, long after the RELIEF agencies and other NGOs leave the area, the Japanese Church is committed to long-term RECOVERY. This long-term commitment to recovery is precisely why Asian Access is channeling a majority of its relief funds through its network of local churches.

If you do not see a video player, you can view it here

On a personal note, it was encouraging to interview Masatoshi Ohkita Sensei. Several years ago, I interviewed his father, Rev. Masahiro Ohkita at Midorino Chapel for several video projects, including the Spotlight on Japan

How will you be involved in bringing hope to Japan?

Are you willing to pray?  Willing to give?  Willing to go serve?


More information...

A2's Japan Tsunami Page: