Japan Pastor: ‘They Can Feel God’s Love’

By   •   March 25, 2011

There is a look in their faces.

It’s a look that can not be described. And impossible to ignore.

But as Rev. Yoshikazu Takada looks deep into the eyes of the hurting people of Japan, he can only offer one thing.

Hope.

“Whenever I start to speak to them, they tear up. Both young and old,” said Rev. Takada, speaking from Osaka, Japan. “Normally, they are very hard to approach. But now they are different. They are really thirsting and hungering for something they can rely upon.”

Rev. Takada has the answer. For him, a follower of Jesus Christ for 47 years, it’s simple. But to so many who are struggling, cold and hungry, hope left their world somewhere in the midst of a 9.0 earthquake striking off the coast of Sendai and a nasty black-wave tsunami ripping through a once-beautiful coastline.

A nation wonders, what now?

“I believe this is the time to preach the Gospel, but first we have to show them Christian love,” said Rev. Takada, pastor of Osaka Church and Executive Chairman of the Kansai Franklin Graham Festival last October. “We have to be careful how we approach these people because they hurt so much. It’s unspeakable.”

THERE’S NO SHYNESS IN THEIR EYES

There is a graveness in Rev. Takada’s voice as he talks about people who had loved loved-ones taken out by the tsunami even though they were right in front of them.

Over 25,000 are estimated dead in Japan with a rebuilding effort that experts predict will cost between $200 and $310 billion.

But those costs are not weighing heavy on the hearts right now. Two weeks removed from the deadlines Japanese tragedy since World War II and most people are looking for something they can believe in.

“I dearly believe Jesus is the only hope,” Rev. Takada said. “We have so many gods in Japan. There are so many religions. People are fed up with religions. But with God’s love and the Holy Spirit, we can reach people.”

For Rev. Takada, reaching people is suddenly much easier. Sometimes it’s just one question or a word of encouragement and the connection has been made.

It seems devastation has spawned a swift departure from what is normally a reserved society.

“Those people, who experienced disaster, there’s no shyness in their eyes,” he said. “They are scared. It was such a shocking experience. They are scared to think of their future. They don’t know what to do.”

Rev. Takada knows exactly what to do. An experienced pastor in the Japanese culture, he realizes the wounds are still fresh.

“I feel they are quite open to the Truth of God,” he said. “I tell them I’m a pastor of a church. I tell them God loves them. I usually ask them if I can pray for them. They never refuse.

“In the prayer, I tell them about the Gospel of Jesus.”

PEOPLE REALLY DO APPRECIATE

Twice, Rev. Takada has made the 14-hour road trip from Osaka to Sendai, a 900-kilometer journey, which is quite a long trip in a small country like Japan.

As head of the Japan Mission Center — the executive committee that made last October’s Festival a reality — Rev. Takada has helped organize the distribution of the initial $200,000 worth of supplies the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association donated and the 93 tons of supplies Samaritan’s Purse airlifted last weekend.

The once-picturesque are of Sendai is now rubble and there is still a shortage of food and gasoline and temperatures at night are still hovering under 30-degrees F with occasional snow.

“At the moment, only two weeks after it has happened, they need food to survive. There’s not enough food,” he said. “They need warm clothes and blankets.

“Samaritan’s Purse and the BGEA are doing a very good job there. I was really moved by your people’s love and prayers. We appreciate them so much.”

Rev. Takada, who had met with Sendai leaders about a possible Festival there two weeks prior to the earthquake/tsunami, was stunned at the scene when he returned.

“Chaos,” is the best way he could describe it. “Sendai is a beautiful city. A beautiful city. It’s such a disaster. I’ve never seen scenery like that.

“One pastor said ‘I lost everything. I had a thousand books and they’re just gone.’ “

The widespread damage has also complicated the relief and rebuilding process.

Hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes are still without power. Officials have said that people may want to move to other areas of Japan who have better services to offer.

“Unfortunately, churches have such damage. Some churches, the tsunami completely destroyed them,” Rev. Takada said. “We are finding it very hard to distribute through the churches, so we need volunteers with the help of the pastors and Christians. And the people are very thankful. They appreciate it so much.”

PEOPLE DON’T FORGET ABOUT HIROSHIMA

Northeast Japan took the heaviest brunt of the March 11 disaster, but the aftershocks are being felt nation-wide. Sometimes literally.

Hundreds of aftershocks, including one of 6.2-magnitude on Friday, serve as deadly reminders to those who survived.

“Trauma,” is how Rev. Takada described it. “Yesterday, the ground started to move. Those people who lost their loved ones, whenever it starts, they scream.”

And Rev. Takada fully understands why the uncertain situation with the nuclear reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex fills the population of Japan with concern and fear.

“People are still suffering today from the World Wars,” he said. “It was 65 years ago, but people are still cautious.”

And while most are too young to remember first-hand the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings in 1945, virtually everyone knows the reality of those events.

Stories are passed down from generations. Schools take field trips to the bombing site.

“People don’t forget about Hiroshima,” Rev. Takada said.

PEOPLE CAN FEEL GOD’S LOVE

Chad Hammond, BGEA Associate Director of Asian Affairs, is a big supporter of Rev. Takada and his ministry. Not only has Hammond worked closely with Rev. Takada on the relief efforts, but saw what a strong example he set for three years in laying the 2010 Festival groundwork.

“Rev. Takada has modeled Christlike love and humility to the people of Japan,” Hammond said.

But he’s never had a challenge like this.

People were already hurting. They were already lost. And now they’re scared.

“They can feel God’s love,” he said. “They are sensitive because they don’t have anything they can rely on.”

So on Friday night, after a long drive back from Sendai, Rev. Takada gathered his congregation and shared from his heart about what he saw. And was very direct.

“It’s a very serious issue. It’s more than we think,” he said. “I asked my brothers to pray earnestly for God to save this nation.”

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10 Comments

  1. Branden says:

    I have spent a lot of time in Japan and with the Japanese people. I am so crushed to see what has happened to them, it really breaks my heart. I pray that God can use this terrible time to bring in people that can comfort them, and that they may open their hearts and eyes to them. Christians, we must ACT! That is observed in many ways, but fewer than ONE percent of the Japanese people believe in Christ. This is an amazing time where we can show them God's LOVE through not just our words but our ACTIONS as well. We are called to love. We need to show them how much God LOVES them and cares for them in their suffering, and that God loves Japan. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as I beileve God is probably stirring the hearts of believers all over the world in both the west AND east to be USED by Him for His glory. Like someone else said, it probably won't be some mass thing like other countries, but even the changed like of one person can affect potentially thousands. Life up Japan and don't forget these people. It will be years.

  2. Dar says:

    I was a Flight Attendant for years and flew to Japan. I love the people and the Country. I pray that Christ will comfort all. May the gifts from others help in a time of need. I would visit their temples. There was a peace about these people that I can't explain. Christ will reveal his true name to them. I will not judge their religion; it is all they know. However I pray that Christ will reveal himself through all of this. We have no power without Christ. I know in my heart that they will rebuild their Country and their Hearts. Praise the Lord and please help a Country that needs you now. Amen!

  3. Josaia says:

    I think that this serves as a warning to all nations that rely on the hands of men instead of God. Its time to turn to God for everything and praise God in everything that you do. First the earthquake, then comes the Tsunami, backed by the nuclear fall outs and snow. I pray to God to have mercy on the people of Japan who are now suffering and give them another chance to really give their life to Jesus. I do not know what was thier reaction to the evangelism in October last year but I believe that something is terribly wrong.

  4. Paula says:

    Thank you for sharing news from Japan earthquake. I pray that God will use BGEA and other of Gods children to reach more Japanese who do not know Jesus as their Saviour and God.

  5. Lee Ida says:

    Just last night, in talking with God, I was wondering about Japan and if the Word was being carried to those people – and, if so, how it was being received. Then, today I come across this article which has been so encouraging. Thank you BGEA!

  6. Chuck says:

    I completed my last three years of high school in Japan, graduating in 1965, then served a three year tour in southern Japan in the Air Force. The Japanese people are model citizens, typically maintaining an outward calm and reserve that is tough to see through. They seem to trust thoroughly in their government and in their enormous power to overcome adversity. Japan has always had earthquakes — and they have built to cope with it — but nothing like this — and it's not over yet! It's as if the Almighty is breaking down that which they trust in for everything they are — their land and their institutions — leaving them vulnerable, as not since WWII to the call of a Savior. I pray that God will draw these people, that he loves so much, to Himself as never before, that Japanese hearts will, as never before, respond to their Savior's calling. Knowing these people as I do, this will not be a big event, but a quiet one as one person at a time cries out to the only one who can bring relief, to the only one who can calm the storms of life.

  7. jan says:

    Abba, Father, we thank You for preparing Japan in advance through the October 2010 Festival. Abba, in Jesus mighty Name, send forth Your Holy Spirit to soften hearts and minds to provide Hope that is found only in Jesus. Abba, we thank You for the Harvest Field and pray for Laborers to be sent forth in accordance with Your Word. May the Love of Messiah be evident to all in Japan and may Your anointing be released to break the Yoke of sorrow and pain. As in Heaven all tears will be wiped away, may Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. May Jesus be glorified in Japan. Amen to all the prayers for Japan.

  8. Niki says:

    Will/am praying for the Japanese people. Thank you for informing the public of what is being done and also for the efforts of the BGEA and Samaritans Purse.

  9. annette says:

    Beloved people of Japan, may GOD use the Christlike images of the workers in the nuclear reactors who are risking their lives to save the lives of others, though they did not cause the tragedy, to demonstrate to you that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – for you and me – the just for the unjust…. He laid down His life for His friends – all those who put their faith in Him and His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave – in victory – and we turn from our sins – the things we've thought, said and done that hurt GOD and others – and ask GOD to forgive us, and trust that He paid our sin debt in full on the cross, and that His victory over the grave by His resurrection secures the promise of eternal life for all who accept JESUS as LORD and SAVIOR…. Our most desperate need as humans is for a SAVIOR… JESUS CHRIST is that Savior…”For CHRIST died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrigheous, to bring you to GOD. He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit…” 1 Peter 3:18-19a… Heavenly Father, please open the eyes of the people of Japan to the reality of Your saving love, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and that JESUS is the Way, the Truth and the LIFE, – please draw them to JESUS for salvation in JESUS' name. Amen.

  10. Daniel says:

    “Whenever I start to speak to them, they tear up. Both young and old,” said Rev. Takada, speaking from Osaka, Japan. “Normally, they are very hard to approach. But now they are different. They are really thirsting and hungering for something they can rely upon.” Amen. God must be happy about this. One by One. Side by Side. Through the LORD and Jesus Christ.