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Monday, March 28, 2011

The Armagost Family in Japan


John writes: “How deserted lies the city once so full of people…. All her people groan as they search for bread… This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears.”(Lamentation Chapter 1)

I just got back from a trip up to a small part of the earthquake-tsunami area. First impression was that there was less structural damage caused by the earthquake than I expected in this area, but where the tsunami hit it was heartbreaking. It was too painful to take some photos.

Our main task was to make contact with pastors in the area to assure them that we are praying for them, preparing support for them and to assess their needs. Because of the shortage of gasoline, we had to limit our trip to the Sendai area, while the whole area affected by earthquake-tsunami covers more than 300 miles up the coast from Tokyo.

We received a warm greeting from Rev. Yamada when we stopped at the “Holy Light” kindergarten, which is part of the Shiogama Church ministry. Rev. Yamada and his family moved from the parsonage to the kindergarten so that they could keep in contact with the 300 children and families who are part of the school. The kindergarten had some small damage from the earthquake. Water from the tsunami however reached the front steps of the Shiogama Church, leaving a coating of mud on the parking lot, but doing no damage. Even if it had been destroyed, as so many other buildings were, it is still just a building and can be replaced. It is the people we were concerned about.

Here is what we know so far. All of the Japan Baptist Union pastors are safe. While buildings did suffer damage none were lost completely. We also know there are church members still missing, and some are confirmed dead. We still have limited contact with several churches in the more rural areas farther north.

Finally, you know of the concerns over the nuclear power plants. It has become disaster upon disaster with the ripples spreading across Japan. It is both heartbreaking and frightening. However listen to these words of Jeremiah, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam.:22-23)
The Lord is able and willing to work through the church here in Japan, and through you and your church. Your prayers are important! Thank you.

Please know that we Armagosts, while hurting for others, are safe and far from the disaster areas. Your prayers help sustain us. Please keep the Hwang family and Roberta Stephens, our fellow IM missionaries, in your prayers. They are in Yokohama and are feeling some of the ripples from these disasters: shortages of food, rolling black-outs, and lines for gasoline.

The Armagost Family are American Baptist Missionaries in Japan. To learn more, click here.

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