Japan Update #10 – #06 Tohoku Earthquake 2011

IverUpdate #10 Mar 21st 1:55am

SEE VIDEO OF THE MTW JAPAN RELIEF WORK AT http://www.vimeo.com/21221181

Dear Family and Friends,

* We are safe…. and very blessed
* But very busy and tired in this ongoing emergency as we work around almost around the clock.
* See video link below taking by Team member chooise
* It is 1:55 am after a very long Lord’s day. I just got home, and know I must write and update you. I am exhausted, but will try…
* We have sent 11 truckloads of needed goods north. Japanese church has jumped in fully.
* For example: One ministry for ladies in our church who do not work outside the home has become waiting in line 2 hrs to get gas to send north to our partnering churches. Another is making food with love attached to send north everyday, our church to their mouth (not like to the warehouse for a few days, like the government)
*This is furthering evangelism in a tremendous way in our sending areas, as non-Christians jump in to help, and furthering the evangelism of the churches we are helping and partnering with to help their ministry.
* Radiation level zero: A Japanese man when north two full days helping to deliver needed supplies. A team who just arrived from America had brought a radiation level detection device. They checked him and his clothes. Even though he went into the disaster area two days in a row, now safe to on two of our trips back to back, Other following in trace…

*Conservative Baptist Missionary: “Our church planting work has progressed forward two years through this disaster relief help.”
This missionary is on the coast in Katsuta, Ibaragi ken. He said this today to our relief team that brought him water.. The name of his church plant is Oasis, and we keep carrying tanks of water north to him so he can give out water in the community.

* Church planting work moved forward 5 years years:
When I told Seima Aoyagi, a Japanese associate member and parter of our the story of the Conservative Baptist missionary above, he said that their church planting had been moved forward 5 years as a all days was going all thee time…

I keep falling asleep at the computer. It is 2:25am. Sorry. This must wait another day.

No, I will send as is with what Maggie and Sara-Beth wrote for me below in updates #8 & #9, though I want to tell you so much more!

your partner in the gospel,

March 20, 2011
Maggie is the wife of Rev Jonathan Iverson.

From Maggie:
Hi All,

This is Maggie Iverson, Dan’s daughter-in-law, helping him keep up with the email tsunami. Again, thank you all so much for your prayer, involvement and support from afar.

– Team Continues to Bring Aid North: Building Community Through Common Purpose
– Common Grace in Japan: Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant And Response to Crisis
– Finding Opportunities to Provide Water: Telling About the Living Water
– A Story of Hope: Pastor from the North Reunited With His Flock

Team Continues to Bring Aid North: Building Community Through Common Purpose
At present, the team continues to work tirelessly to send trucks full of supplies–food, water, gasoline, clothing, etc.–to the north. There are three teams–Chiba, Nagoya, Tokyo–who send trucks around the clock, 11 trucks so far! There are shortages of food, water and gas throughout the north and even in Tokyo and Chiba, due to panic. The fuel shortages throughout the country prevent distribution of goods and transportation to the places that need aid the most. Throughout this past week, many hundreds of Japanese have been bringing supplies, making rice balls, waiting in gas lines, working to expand the network and keep everybody informed. Even many non-Christians have come to offer assistance and donate items when they learn we are actually taking supplies north–many aid organizations won’t go very far north into the hardest hit areas yet. We are watching people draw near to our community and become a part of it through relief efforts.

A Story of Community: To get gas, we organized church members to stand for hours in the gas lines to fill up small tanks that we could transport north. One of our church members was talking with her neighbor. When her neighbor asked what we were transporting north, our church member mentioned gasoline. It just so happens, this neighbor’s husband owns a gas station. Since learning about what we are doing, her husband has given our church a large tank to transport fuel. He also comes each morning and fills all our tanks, kerosine to warm peoples houses and diesel for transport to take to the north. Of course we pay him, but he gives it to us straight from the truck, as much as we need! No more waiting in lines. He has been doing this for 2 days and will continue, praise the Lord.

Common Grace in Japan: Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant
The plant workers at Fukushima Daiichi are working hard to contain the problem, often very close to the dangers there. Then have not left. We have been overwhelmed by the common grace displayed in this country:
People wait patiently in lines for gas, water, to make phone calls and receive supplies.
They take no more than they need, and at times, even take less in order that everyone might get some.
The workers at the plant are working day and night to contain the situation at the power plant, to their detriment, in the wake of much material and often family loss. They work around the clock with little sleep and without seeing family members on the outside.
In some ways, such a competent culture filled with such “good” people seems to have little understanding of human depravity and little need for the gospel. But we know the truth. We know that the hope of the gospel is needed in EVERY nation, now in Japan more than ever. Please pray for these broken-hearted ones to hear the truth of the gospel and be given soft hearts to respond.

An encouraging story: A Wycliffe missionary, supported by our church, Oyumino, has been helping out with the relief efforts and has been three times to some of the hardest hit areas in the north. He has traveled three times with our trucks, close inside the evacuation zones and braved the threat of radiation with our trucks and team. A team came from USA yesterday with a radiation detector and they checked him. His levels were zero. NO exposure. We are praising God for this encouraging news!

Finding Opportunities to Provide Water: Telling About the Living Water
We know that these people desperately need physical aid, but we also know that their physical need is profoundly overshadowed by the spiritual need and darkness here. These people are THIRSTY for living water and true life! One member of our team, Matt, who has been driving supplies North and distributing them recently wrote about delivering 1000 liters of water in Ueda, a town that had been without water for a week:

Our truck was completely surrounded with people teary eyed and grateful to receive whatever we could give. There were many elderly people, so I ended up carrying lots of water directly to their homes and talking with them. They bowed and thanked us endlessly when they heard we were from Chiba-(4 hours away) and part of the Christian church there. One lady said, “It’s so sad…the government says we won’t have water until sometime in April. Everyone has forgotten about us”. I told gently told her “We haven’t forgotten about you”.
As we finished giving out all the water we had, I couldn’t help but think of how Jesus said “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty again”
-John 4:13-15.

A Story of Hope: Pastor from the North Reunited With His Flock
There was a church of over 200 (one of the largest churches in Japan!) located just miles from the power plant. When the warnings of the tsunami sounded, these people fled with just the clothes on their backs. They have lost everything and they are scattered throughout shelters. 150 of them are still unaccounted for. Their pastor was in the Tokyo area for his son’s graduation when the earthquake occurred. He has been trying to get to his church members and get in touch with them, but to no avail. Finally, he was able to catch a ride with one of our teams taking a truck. Witnesses said that when the truck arrived, he jumped out and before one item was removed from the truck, he and his church members (those that are left) had a worship service. He opened the word to Is 37 where Hezekiah prayed to God in overwhelming difficulty. He said: “God established and carried our church through various difficulties for the last 60 years faithfully. Earthquake, tsunami, even radiation cannot shatter what God started.” They sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Another team is planning to take supplies to Iwaki city, 20 miles south of the power plant to help a pastor who chose to remain in the area without escape.

March 18, 2013

Hi Everyone,
This is Sara-Beth, trying to help my dad with the “tsunami” of e-mails that have hit his inbox over the last week. Please find an update of what is going on and how to pray below. Thank you for your care for our family and for the country of Japan!

Highlights (more details below):
-MTW teams continue to send trucks with water, gas, and supplies up north to help affected areas. Links to missionary blogs for stories and pictures

-Praise God for Japanese Christians rallying to help their countrymen, and blessing it is to our team and our unbelieving neighbors to see this.

-U.S. Government personnel and military evacuating from Japan, as well as some other mission agency workers due to radiation threat. At this time we are far out of danger radius here in Chiba, but still ferrying supplies and help to those closer to dangerous radius.

MTW teams relief efforts continue: For first-hand pictures, short videos, and stories, please see the Lowther’s, blog: http://rogerlowther.blogspot.com/ .

Japanese Christians: It has been such a blessing to work alongside our Japanese brothers and sisters. It really is amazing to see what God can do through his people when they are available to him. In Chiba, and also in Tokyo and Nagoya the Christians and missionaries have rallied to gather the gas and water and supplies to take up North. Some members are taking the role of sitting at gas stations, waiting in line for hours at a time to purchase gas for the truckers to take. Others have been working tirelessly to make hundreds of “onigiri” (rice balls) to send to those stranded without little or no food. Still others are at our church building to the wee hours of the morning loading and unloading the trucks that are using to bring supplies. Another encouraging aspect has been that many of the Japanese neighbors, some who the teams have had little or no contact with, have heard of the churches’ relief efforts and joined them through bringing by donations. In Tokyo, one non-Christian gentlemen joined the guys in one of the trucks to go help out. He was a huge asset on the trip and we pray his time of close interaction and working with Christians have brought him one step closer to knowing Jesus and his glorious Gospel. Some pictures of the missionaries and Japanese working together can be found here (this is a facebook album).

Radiation Threat:
The radiation threat is still unclear, but at this point the MTW teams in the Tokyo/Chiba areas are going to stay put and continue relief-effort trips to the northern, affected areas. We have reason to believe the threat is not as catastrophic as some are making it out to be (read this article for more information). But more importantly, even if it was, the heart of our missionaries in Japan is to stay to help and bring Jesus’ love to the 500,000 plus people still in that dangerous radius. My dad and the many others other who are taking trips in to these areas, are “happy to go into harms way, as that is what Jesus did for us.” One Pastor, ‘Mori Sensei’, who the team has been able to help through bringing supplies, is staying behind, close to the danger zone. He told my dad, when encouraged to leave if he felt he needed to for the sake of his family, that he wasn’t worried about survival, but revival. To hear an interview in which my brother, Danny, addresses this more, you can listen here.

Please Pray:
-As we’ve always prayed, that the Gospel would flood this land, especially as so many are without hope and grieving. May the comfort of knowing our great, but intimate God change the hearts and lives of the Japanese people.

-For relief work everywhere. There are still so many without a regular supply of food and water, and with the radiation threat, it is harder to get aid to them. Many are sick, hungry, and cold and they don’t have a way to get out of their temporary shelters.

-Pray for our vision as we make long-term plans of how to minister in mercy to these communities we are already serving these last several trips. Pray for clarity from the Lord and the resources to be able to help.

-Pray for MTW disaster relief assessment team arriving today, as well as several others (including my brother, Danny, who is bringing a team of 8 as well as several former missionaries to Japan) who are coming to help in the relief efforts. Pray for safe travels and the wisdom and opportunities to use this extra manpower for the glory of God and the good of the Japanese. To read more about Danny’s team, go to spendyourself.org .


March 16, 2013

#7 Japan IverUpdate Mar. 16 10am Japan time (13 hrs ahead of east coast time)

Dear Family and friends,
Thank you so much for praying! We have been going north to help where we can, and just a few minutes ago, we located a Japanese pastor, a good friend of ours, who is just 8km outside the evacuation zone, in a city with over 5,000 evacuees who are receiving very little govt assistance. We are mobilizing today for a trip tonight to take as much as we are able. The critical need is gasoline to get there, water, and diesel fuel for those there who could help but don’t have any way to transport help. We particularly need gas cans to transport the gas…all supplies of everything here in Chiba are gone because of panic (grocery shelves empty, gas lines for hours, all containers for water, gas, etc. GONE). Just yesterday our MTW team in Nagoya began mobilizing to bring abundant supplies from there, but we just learned that in the last 12 hours, the same panic response has left them in the same situation. We trust the LORD will supply as we go out today to gather what is needed. Please pray for this effort…this pastor and his church are committed to stay until the end for their city and the glory of God; may God be exalted!
In the strength of our Sovereign,
Carol (helping Dan with email tsunami)

#6: IverUpdate Mar. 15, 2011 12:30pm Japan Time

* Carol interviewed on NPR. A Christian AP correspondent had done the telephone interview.
The portion NPR used on this NPR podcast will be interesting to you.

* Safe, 1st trip to devastated area with needed supplies; 18 hrs up and back. Exhausted.
Displaced people stunned, cold, tired, but most desperate for water. Very thankful.

* Sent two more trucks north last night as people flee south.
Sent a second supply truck at midnight last night and a 3rd supply truck at 2am, to miss traffic.
No traffic, Smooth, fast. Up 4.5 hrs. Home 9 hours in daylight. (We did this after Kobe earthquake 15 years ago).

Pray for safety, as there is much concern about another tsunami (aftershocks), and about
the now 4th nuclear reactor problem .

Please pray for a productive trip, and that the team can really help with the
physical and spiritual needs of the people they meet.

Dear Family and friends,

Three of us went north into the devastated areas Sunday midnight with a packed 2-ton rental truck with 1000 liters of water, gasoline, blankets, food, warm clothes, etc, that our church members and lots of non-Christian friends donated. People were most desperate for water. We distributed supplies to a small church we had contacted, to an elementary school housing displaced people, and drove around the town (Ueda town, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture) giving water to people. People were so grateful.

Many were saying we should not go in, for various reasons. As we prayed, discussed, gathered supplies, and loaded them into the late hours of the night Sunday, we felt led to go. People are fleeing south as we go north. Some people really fear what may happen with a nuclear meltdown, or another Tsunami (as some pretty big tremors keep coming, the radio keeps on saying that if you are on the coast, where we were, to always be aware of roads inland to flee to higher ground, which we did). And the radio is often saying the government does not want volunteers in there getting in the way of the professionals, and possibly becoming victims themselves who need to be evacuated.

We were so glad we went. We saw almost no official relief supplies coming in where we were. We saw no self-defence force troops bringing relief until we were heading home south as 15 self defense force supply trucks passed us coming north. The exhausted city hall official lady in her late twenties in charge at the elementary school with 100 displaced people living there was so thankful we did not listen to those warnings not to come (which I understand the need for), and was so grateful, and a good future contact for several spheres. She was surprised that we were from a church, and wanted us to thank everyone who sent things. She wanted us to bring more, and to bring people to help her with so many people, especially the many older people who were there because they did not have the strength or means to flee.

People were so desperate for water that when we ran out, they wanted the not-so-clean spill-over can water. It was very sad to run-out with people still coming with plastic bags and trash cans and anything they could bring to get water.

I could not help but think:
-May the Japanese people come to thirst like this spiritually, and be this desperate seeking Living Water (Isa. 55:1-2; John 4).
– May they flee to higher ground… to The High Rock (Ps. 61:2).
– May a tsunami of grace, wave after wave, flood Japan (Ezek. 47; John 1:16)

Just had a fairly large tremor, and not one person around me even made a comment about it. They have become so common place. May God so shake Japan spiritually, and may the Japanese people be humbled to desperately seek the Living Water God offers in Christ.

Please pray also as we begin working today on a long-term plan. Our thousand liters Monday and 2000 liters today praying with and talking with a few was like a drop in the Pacific, so little for such great great need. And, of course, we are praying and dreaming and talking about how God might use this disaster, and us, for a new WAVE of effective evangelism and church planting in the affected area, and throughout all of Japan?

Thanks for praying for places to go serve. We now have two Japanese churches in the affected area to possibly partner with long-term in their area to help them in their witness as we help people in their communities. The city hall lady above, Ms. Yamamoto, has access to lots of information and officials. And she likes us.

Please give and pass the word on how to give to the relief effort. I have already spent $2000-$3000* renting trucks, buying gas cans, truck fuel, water tanks, needed supplies, etc, and it is a drop in the bucket to what we will spend, and what will be needed to do what needs to be done in the weeks and months ahead. (*I have not had a minute to see exactly how much I have spent, nor do we even know yet officially where all the money will come from. But we do know we need to act now and worry about all that later.)

More later, but wanted to get this out to you.


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