Joe Handley

 

FROM THE PRESIDENT

 

Stories from Joe Handley, president of Asian Access

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Four years ago, the Fukushima 1st Nuclear Power Plant melted down due to the tsunami that hit Japan on 3.11.2011. It's a day I will never forget! I was near Nagano at the time for our annual staff retreat (where I'm heading later this week). The 9.1 earthquake triggered a disaster that is etched in my memory forever.

The members of Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church went on a month-long journey around Japan because their church and homes were in the quarantine area. Read/hear their stories here:

Some died during the tsunami as the lady who is pictured here. Others passed away on the one-months trek moving from one temporary housing to another. To this day, many are still unable to visit their homes and others are limited to going in during the day time, but not able to spend the night. Pastor Akira Sato told my colleague that he has given up hope for fully returning to his home.

Visiting the region was simply devastating. See some of the photos here.

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It's essentially a ghost town with nuclear waste being piled in thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of bags all over the region.

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However, attending the relocated church on Sunday inspired me. Pastor Sato spoke of needing to let go of the past and focus on the Lord's blessings. It was a great message from 2 Timothy 1:13-16. He encouraged the church to focus on the sound Words coming from Christ, those words of faith and love sustained by the work of the Holy Spirit.

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Knowing the deep loss that each of these families have faced and yet seeing the smiles on their faces and the hope that they have instilled in others was powerful. Many have come to Christ since the disaster hit several years ago. Even though many of the church members have moved away to other areas, the church is filling up with new believers.

Over and above this, Pastor Sato practices what he preaches. In the midst of his deep loss and pain, he encouraged the church to give to their Nepali brothers and sisters who had just gone through a similar devastating disaster. His encouragement so deeply touched me that I not only began crying but I gave just about everything I had to the offering that day.

Joe with Sato Sensei

Pastor Sato personally thanked me and Asian Access for the enormous help we gave during the triple disaster that hit Japan and for the way we helped their church as well. Beyond this, in the midst of their loss and pain, he handed me a check to give to the Nepali people when I visit there next week. That put me over the top. Imagine that: in the midst of some of your deepest sense of loss, you focus on the way that God has blessed you and you dig deep to reach out to others in need. That's so Jesus!

I left Fukushima with the hope of Christ: that in the midst of such devastation, God is at work. He has a plan and with all the trouble our world is facing, He is a God of hope. He brings hope to the people of Japan and to the people of Nepal.

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Will you join me in praying, giving and being an agent of hope this year in Japan, in Nepal and beyond?

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Joe Handley

 

More Information

Hear Rev. Sato share his experience... (1hr 20mins with translation)

 

imagePastor-Sato_Exodus-Church_at_CBC.mp3 [Size: 110.28 Mb]

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