Christians Making an Impact in Japan’s Disaster Zone: Report from Janet Kunnecke

Four years after Japan was hit hard by a massive earthquake, it is amazing how Christians continue to respond to the needs of survivors. One of our good friends, veteran SEND missionary Janet Kunnecke, recently presented a workshop on communication for a group living in Ishinomaki, a city that was devastated by the tsunami. Here is Janet’s report,

I was invited to do a workshop on communication — focusing on listening well — at a house church on the coast near Sendai. I was pleased that a fellow SEND missionary had asked me, as I’d hoped that my workshop materials could be of use in the disaster region. Little did I expect that I would be so encouraged by the warm, lively, joyful group of 11 people I met there!

Hearing stories of how the tsunami impacted each person, I was amazed to hear that most of them had come to follow Jesus after the disaster. Through the loving service of Christians they met doing relief work, they saw something they wanted. For most, these were the first Christians they’d ever known.

Though most of the participants had lived in temporary housing before their homes were repaired, and still struggle with many difficulties, they now regularly visit others who are still there, serving them by listening to their stories, doing crafts or cooking events, learning hula dancing together, or giving hand massages.

I was so happy to be able to help them be better listeners. To help them learn early in their Christian experience to prevent mis-communication which often lead to more serious conflict.Kunnecke Workshop

The group engaged with the communication material and the learning exercises so much it was hard to interrupt to debrief what they had learned! But they obviously were grasping the implications of their discoveries and talked about their own experiences. One woman who’d recently quit her job was glad that even though we’d been trying to schedule the training for months, it didn’t happen until she was free to be there. It turned out I’d met her before, as she used to work for a delivery service that included our cabin in its area! What a treat to see her joy as she told me she’ll be getting baptized in a few weeks.

There was another cool connection, too.  One woman was from Fukushima, and had evacuated with her church to a camp in Tokyo for a year. She was there when Grace Church (one of our supporting churches in the USA) sent a team to do a kids English program!

Pray for this amazing group, for continued growth and maturity, for unity among them, and good relationships as they serve.

Thanks very much Janet for your report! If you have recent experience serving in the Tohoku region, please comment on how you have seen God at four years after the disaster.

Related Links:

Steve & Janet Kunnecke
Steve & Janet Kunnecke




2 thoughts on “Christians Making an Impact in Japan’s Disaster Zone: Report from Janet Kunnecke

  1. How the Japanese embrace their culture is astounding, which is why welcoming the presence of a Westerners making their mark as Christians can become a double whammy of discomfort for them. Amazingly, a calamity that has claimed a lot of lives and livelihood can greatly impact one such solidly formed country, and this story is one of the testament when culture can still change and people can change if they are willing. Thanks for sharing.

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