After moving to Iwate Prefecture in the summer of 2012, we began serving with a Christian relief project in the coastal city of Kamaishi. By the time of our arrival, the tsunami survivors had all been moved to temporary housing communities and all the infrastructure was in place to meet their basic needs. The biggest thing the community lacked was spiritual and emotional care. Working alongside a Japanese pastor and teams of volunteers from Japanese and overseas churches, we provided programs in the temporary housing communities that gave the elderly and children a chance to relax and socialize – giving us a chance to connect with them to identify and meet spiritual and emotional needs.
A large part of our responsibility as a couple was the administrative and logistical aspects of the work – managing supplies, accounting, maintenance, tech support, and team orientation. We also helped to coordinate the weekly church gathering among the project staff, providing a small group-based format that we hoped would morph into a cell-based church in the future.
The project (as an arm of a church planting effort) came to an end in May of 2014. In its place, the pastor we had been working with helped to start a full-fledged Christian relief organization, focusing on doing programs for the community survivors over the long-term. Knowing that God had led us to the Iwate coast to focus on planting and helping to catalyze healthy, reproducing churches, we parted ways with Pastor Takahashi and began focusing our energies on some of the initiatives we had started earlier in the year.