“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 struck Sendai, Japan. The epicenter of the earthquake was off the northeast coast of Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Within minutes of the earthquake, tsunamis hit the coast and devastated everything in its path. Even though it’s been weeks since the major earthquake, people are still experiencing smaller earthquakes and aftershocks. Currently, there are 9,199 confirmed deaths, about 14,000 people remain missing, and over 318,000 are living in evacuation centers in northern and eastern Japan. Many Japanese are living life in fear and panic every day.
Ashley Sakamaki is a junior at TFC where she is majoring in Early Childhood Education. All of her extended family lives in Japan and her father has left to Japan to help with the rescue efforts.
She says, “It was about 2:00 a.m. on March 11, and I was still up browsing Facebook when I began seeing new status updates from friends about an earthquake in Japan. This prompted me to look for more information on a Japanese news website and that’s when the news hit me that an earthquake had hit Japan. I was in shock as I was reading the news and trying to comprehend what had happened. My first thoughts were about my family and how they were doing. The highest magnitude of an earthquake that I had experienced in Japan was around a magnitude of 5 in Tokyo. I was afraid because my grandparents and relatives live in Japan.
“My mom and dad live in the Atlanta area, I called them on Friday morning and my mom updated me about what she knew. She had heard from almost all our relatives, except for one of my aunts and her family, who live in Sendai, the hardest hit city. My grandparents and relatives said that this earthquake was something that they had never experienced. Two days later, news finally came from my aunt that she and her family had been evacuated to an elementary school that served as an evacuation center. Thankfully, they were safe.
“My father, Hiro Sakamaki, left Thursday, March 24th to Sendai and arrived safely to assist a rescue team from Hungary in their efforts to provide aid to the people of Japan. He is in charge of assessing devastated areas and taking the team to those places. He received training to be a rescue worker a few years ago in Hungary. At the time, I didn’t understand, why he was being trained to be a rescued worker. I never thought he would use it, but now I see that God does everything for a reason. He prepared my dad for such a time as this.
“At first, my mom, Kazumi Sakamaki, was devastated to hear that her husband was going to head for the hardest hit area. We were still trying to process our thoughts: Is this really Japan? Everything is so different. Everything is thrown everywhere. She was nervous at first, but realized this was God’s will. She sent him off with confidence and trusting in God.
“I’m sad that this tragedy has happened to Japan, but Iâ€™m hopeful and excited to see what God has planned for Japan. Before, Japan’s doors were open, but their eyes weren’t. Now, the doors are wide open and their hearts are softened. This is the time God is going to touch many of the Japanese’s hearts.”
Ashley’s dad, Hiro Sakamaki, is on staff at Norcross First Baptist Church in Norcross, Georgia, where he is in charge of the Japanese ministry.
Recently, she has started a prayer meeting for Japan on Tuesday nights at Paradise Mountain Ministries (New House) at 8:00 p.m. She says, “I really feel that Japan is going to change spiritually and really run to God. But I never imagined that a crisis like this would happen to this country. I pray that God will use it to help the people realize their need for Jesus Christ.”
If you would like to join Ashley in praying for Japan, let us know and we’ll pass your info on to her.
Prayer requests for Japan:
1. Pray that God will reap a great harvest because of this crisis.
2. Pray for Japan, that they will have stability and unity during this time.
3. Pray for my father as he is in Sendai, Japan helping with relief efforts. Pray for the team’s safety and their witness to those whom they encounter.
Yeng Her, a junior at TFC and an assistant in the marketing department, compiled the information for this article.