From the monthly archives:

March 2011

Dear Praying Friends,

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:28-29

Thank you for your continued prayers on our behalf, God is good! Half an hour ago Jennifer’s plane touched down at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and she and the children will soon be taking a break from the earthquakes and experiencing another of God’s awe-inspiring wonders, SNOW! I had asked you to pray for gas, tickets and re-entry permits. Last time I reported on the gas and the tickets. But thanks to a tip from our colleagues, the Flemings, we learned that the Japanese government had set up a provisional immigration desk at the airport in Japan to process re-entry permits for those who needed them because of the current crisis. This saved us from having to travel to Mito and took some of the pressure off of our schedule. Thank you for praying. With Jennifer gone I am starting to become far more adept at the use of the washing machine – for Jennifer this may turn out to be one of the biggest hidden blessings of the whole crisis!

This week has seen a steady of improvement in our living conditions here in Tsukuba. While I reported the 4 hours I spent getting gas on Sunday, by Tuesday we appeared to have turned the corner and the fuel shortage seems to be almost over. About nine of Japan’s twenty or so oil refineries were damaged or shut down following the quake but by Monday several of these had been restored and a key port in Miyagi was re-opened to allow for more direct delivery of fuel where it’s been lacking most. Without fuel it was easy to feel a little trapped so this is a big relief.

All utilities in our area have returned to normal now and the Flemings long stretch (more than ten days) without running water is finally at an end. While our local mall will not likely open up for several weeks (and the circus tent which had another two months of shows scheduled has now left town), many stores have re-opened now and most importantly grocery stores and home centres are now back at almost full capacity with plenty of emergency supplies and non-perishables on their shelves even now.

The situation at the troubled Fukushima power plant, while still not resolved is improving every day. The initial efforts to cool the reactors by spraying water at them from helicopters and high-powered fire trucks, while seemingly far-fetched and not particularly reassuring, was surprisingly effective it seems. And now electricity has been restored to all six reactors with the hopes that the cooling systems will soon be operational. The surface temperatures of the containment buildings for all reactors is now down below 40C whereas it had been as high as 128C. The core temperatures obviously can be several times that amount but are getting better every day.

While there had been much news about ‘alarming radiation levels’, living in Science City Tsukuba, gives us first hand access to some of the top scientists in the world. There are several research centres that have been publishing hourly radiation readings. These numbers are very helpful. To give you some idea the normal readings at one site are 0.06 microsieverts/hr. Since the Fukushima nuclear plant incident the readings peaked as high as 0.52 (for about an hour) but for the remainder of the time have been steady at about 0.28 microsieverts/hr. As a news story this will tend to get reported as ‘a staggering 800% increase in radioactivity’ without mentioning the fact that the radiation level considered safe for on-going exposure is 23 microsieverts/hr which would require an additional 8000% increase! The radiation levels have increased but rest assured the air is safe.

We are getting reports daily of testing being done on fresh produce for increased radiation levels. The government has suspended distribution of milk and many vegetables from several prefectures and we are assured that anything that is above legal limits is being kept out of the market. Like the air and everything else though, the “safe” levels are designated based on on-going long-term exposure: nobody will suffer any effects from one or two salads that had increased radiation levels. Similarly for water, increased radiation has measured, and we are taking every precaution, but there is no need for alarm.

While Fukushima First Baptist Church’s exodus has entered the more stable but perhaps even more exhausting medium-term phase, emergency efforts are now being directed to churches along the tsunami-ravaged coast. You may now be familiar with the names of three towns, Shiogama, Ishimaki, and Kesennuma, because they were featured constantly on local and international news when the tsunami came in wreaking its destruction. Our association has churches in each of those towns and they have begun efforts to clean out homes now filled with mud and debris. As a gesture of hope for new beginnings for the children who have lost so much (and who start a new grade in just a couple of weeks), they have asked for us to help supply backpacks for them (not the vinyl/canvas ones you see in North America but the sturdy leather ones used in Japan for the duration of a child’s elementary school years). F.A.I.R. funds will help us respond to this need and bless traumatized children and their families with a gift of love and compassion.

This week I have been organizing a ministry team of half a dozen fellow missionaries to travel into Shiogama and help our partner church there in the clean-up of homes affected by the tsunami. While there we will visit the local elementary school with local church leaders and deliver the back-packs and other school supplies we are collecting now. This area is well out of the way of any radiation and we are taking every precaution to make this a safe and well-organized trip with team members working now to secure equipment and read up on issues we will face in terms of emotional self-care and appropriate response in approaching tsunami survivors. Lord willing I hope to leave Monday morning (March 28), arrive that evening, work through to Friday morning (April 1) and be back in Tsukuba that night.

Please join us in prayer:
l Give thanks that God made the path so clear for Jennifer and the children to be able to return to Canada.
l Pray for their refreshment and rest during this time.
l Continue to lift up the Fukushima First Bible Baptist Church’s members who are being hosted safely at our partner church in Yamagata now.
l Pray for the relief efforts of our churches at Shiogama, Ishimaki and Kesennuma where tsunami damage has been great.
l Pray for me as I travel north with our team on Monday. For safety, emotional strength, proper rest and spiritual recovery to meet each day’s challenges.
l Pray that God would use this crisis and the faith-motivated response of Christians across the country and around the world, to turn the Japanese people to the hope of Jesus Christ and the salvation He freely offers.

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Japan Quake Day 7 from Paul & Jenn

by pomankwan on March 17, 2011

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
Dear Praying Friends,

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

These are the words that were quoted by the Pastor Sato (Tsubasa’s father) of First Bible Baptist Church when he arrived at Aizu Chapel relieved to see almost 60 of his church members safely evacuated and being cared for by the church. From that location they were about to depart for Yonezawa Chapel in Yamagata an even safer distance from the troubled nuclear plant.

Today’s theme was evacuation. Not only were these Christians being safely evacuated out of Fukushima, but our own city became a haven for evacuees. I got a call early in the week that we would not be able to rent the Tsukuba International Congress Center for our Celebration Service this Sunday – it had suffered damage during the quake and would not be operational for another month. In the meantime the usable parts of this facility have been opened to people left homeless by the week’s tragedies. I got word from one of our church member’s that they needed blankets so I piled up the extra blankets in our home and headed over on my bicycle to deliver them. I offered to volunteer but they had all the help they needed.

In addition to displaced people being evacuated to other parts of the country, I was busy coordinating the details of our evacuation plan with our Canadian home office and American counterparts. While we are confident of our safety currently and are assured we are a safe distance (200 km) from the troubled Fukushima reactor we are following the directions of the Canadian Embassy in Japan and making every precaution for our safety with a clearly defined contingency plan for the event that conditions change significantly for the worse. Officials at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo made the following statement today:
Following consultations with Government of Canada experts, and based on information available from the Government of Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Canada has assessed that at this stage there is no indication that there is a radiation health risk to Canadian citizens in Japan and other countries in Asia.

While there is much uncertainty God is clearly at work. A neighbour who has never opened up to us before approached us for advice with her daughter who is facing issues compounded by the current stress. When I contacted members of our Mom & Tot group to share Scripture and encourage them in relation to their children and what they’re going through right now one of the mothers opened up about issues she has been having with her son and was deeply grateful for the help. Another one of our church member’s today wrote to say how encouraging it was for her to know that we were standing alongside her in this crisis, even though we were from a different country. And Rob Fleming reported that one of the CRASH teams made it to his city and helped him distribute 1500 L of drinking water to his neighbourhood.

This Saturday we have a scheduled Gospel choir practice and while some will not be able to attend because of this week’s events, we have encouraged everyone who can attend that we will make this a special time of hope and encouragement. Pray that God would open hearts at this difficult time and work in people’ s lives as I share an evangelistic message. Pray also as I seek to minister to all who come to church on the following day. I will be preaching on the faithfulness of God from the book of Lamentations. May God be glorified.

Please join us in prayer:
l Pray that God would continue to open up opportunities to minister to people in the midst of the current crisis. May He work to draw people to faith and repentance.
l Pray for our ministry this weekend and my continued preparation.
l Pray for our son Evan. His elementary school graduation is tomorrow. The gymnasium was damaged by the earthquake and so they will have to hold the ceremony at Brooke’s junior high school instead. He was a little disappointed because the Grade 1 to 3 students will not be able to attend as usual and several of the traditions have been changed to accommodate. We were very touched however when he brought home a card from his teacher today. As an elementary school graduation present she had given every student a hand-made card tied with a ribbon, cut to the exact length the student has grown since they entered elementary school in grade one. Amidst all the chaos of this week, trust a teacher to remember the little things that make a child’s life special! Pray that despite our current situation we would be able to celebrate this important day for Evan.
l Pray for the continued relief efforts of CRASH and CBAJ. They are the front line equipping churches to be Jesus hands and feet to the most needy people in Japan right now.
l Pray that God would aid efforts to provide emergency power to the Fukushima Plant, effectively cool the reactors and avoid more serious radiation damage.
l Pray that God would bring beauty out of this crisis and turn the nation of Japan to Jesus Christ.

While we can’t answer all of your e-mails at this time we are truly moved by the many expressions of your love and concern and continue to covet your prayers for our safety and effectiveness.

Paul & Jennifer Sadler
Brooke, Evan, Caleb

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update from Japan missionary-Paul & Jenn

by pomankwan on March 16, 2011

Dear Praying Friends,
REMEMBER THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

If “water” was the theme of our day yesterday, “gasoline” was the theme for today. First of all let me say that our water is back to normal today. Flushing the toilet never felt good! Now about the gasoline: Hoping to drive to Chiba to help Takeshi and his wife Tsubasa with their move to Tsukuba, I headed out at 6:30 am looking for a gas station that might be open. The previous day I hadn’t been able to find a place with fuel available. Three stations were closed, and I lined up at the fourth for 25 minutes along with another 30 cars but when it was clear that it wasn’t opening up anytime soon I decided to give up. Later in the day I saw two gas stations in neighbouring cities, each with between 120 and 150 cars lined up – but only one of which was actually open! Rob Fleming in Hitachi Naka had his car parked in a line up when I spoke to him at 5 pm and he said that they reported gas would be available at midnight and even then the ration was only 20 L.

A lack of fuel is complicating everyone’s plans, but it is getting in the way of volunteer relief efforts in particular. A representative from our church association was hoping to take supplies into the Sendai area tomorrow morning but had to delay plans due to a lack of fuel. Pastor Sato of Fukushima 1st Bible Baptist Church was able to join a CRASH team heading north at 2 am this morning however. Two trucks headed north packed with essential supplies for << shaking with a rather strong tremor right now >> people seeking shelter in churches near the affected region. One of our sister churches, Aizu Chapel, took in << another strong tremor coming in right now >> 35 people yesterday, and was expecting another 25 to arrive today. Almost all of these are from Pastor Sato’s church in Fukushima. The organization and response of Japanese churches and missionaries has been amazing.

While fuel shortages have created the most inconvenience to us over the last 24 hours, the greatest concern to us and perhaps you also is the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and the threat of nuclear radiation. There is a lot of confusion, panic and misinformation. The situation while serious is not yet a cause for alarm. There are six reactors at the Fukushima power plant. Three of them #4-#6 had been turned off for routine inspection prior to the earthquake. The other three #1-#3 were operating at the time but shut down immediately following the earthquake. As you know, when you turn a projector off it’s important to leave it plugged in for several minutes to allow the fan to cool it off or it will over-heat and fry the internal electronics. This is a very rudimentary comparison but in a similar way, although the nuclear reactors are turned off, continuing to provide cooling for the encased nuclear rods is critical to stabilizing them. Unfortunately, the cooling systems were damaged in the earthquake and so round-the-clock efforts have been in place to release the pressure build-up and cool them down.

When radiation levels were tested 20 km from the plant on Tuesday night, the readings were 200 – 300 microsieverts (and where we are 200 km away the levels are much, much lower). To put this in perspective, you get 100 microsieverts of radiation every time you get dental x-rays and 1 microsievert of radiation for every 12 bananas you eat (from the potassium!). All Fellowship International missionaries are safely outside of the 20 km evacuation zone, 200 to 300 km away from the plant. There was some concern about the forecasted rain because it tends to concentrate the radioactive particles in the air as it falls through the sky and if it lands on you while you are uncovered this is more dangerous. The good news is however that it rained while we were sleeping last night and as a result the air this morning is even safer, because the rain has washed a lot of the radioactive particles out. Even still we are taking every precaution, going outside as little as possible and wearing face masks and hats while outside just in case. Be assured we will continue to monitor the situation at the Fukushima plant and make every effort to ensure the safety of ourselves and our children.

Please join us in prayer:
l Pray for the fuel shortage to be resolved quickly. This affects volunteer relief efforts as well as evacuation contingency plans difficult to address.
l Pray for the Flemings as they are still without running water. Their gas and electricity have been restored and they have regular access to nearby well water.
l Pray that food supplies would return to the stores (toilet paper, rice, bread, and dry foods are sold out in most locations).
l Pray for efforts to cool the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima power plant. And ask God to direct winds out into the Pacific ocean carrying radiation safely out of harm’s way.
l Pray for Christian relief efforts that have begun through C.R.A.S.H. and C.B.A.J. as explained below.
l Pray that God work in the midst of this terrible tragedy to reveal His love through His people and turn many to the hope of Jesus Christ.

While the purpose of my updates has been to keep you informed of our situation on the ground here and encourage your prayers, many of you have written asking what else you can do, other than pray. Late last night I was on the phone to Norm Nielsen, Director of Fellowship International’s humanitarian relief and rehabilitation arm, F.A.I.R., and he agreed to advance $25,000 to aid in the relief efforts of two organizations we are partnering with:
l C.R.A.S.H. (Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope) is a non-profit disaster relief organization created to provide assistance during crisis situations. They work closely with umbrella group JEMA (Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association) of which we are members. They have a large network of experienced volunteers in Japan who know the culture and language and are on the ground ready to act. CRASH Japan is initially seeking funds purchase vital equipment to outfit their Tokyo command centre and equip survey teams who are identifying and meeting physical needs (e.g. tarps, food, water, blankets, batteries, gasoline and medicine).
l C.B.A.J. (Conservative Baptist Association of Japan) is the association of churches with whom we work in Japan. It is centred in Sendai with a large concentration of churches in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures where the damage is the worst. Over thirty of the church’s eighty churches are located within 95 km of the earthquake’s epicenter and so they are at the same time the most critically affected, and the best positioned to make a difference in the name of Jesus Christ. They are seeking funds currently to meet immediate physical needs of those who have been evacuated to their churches, and will also require funds to help in the repair of church buildings damaged in the quake.
In addition to the needs of these two organizations we will be able to identify and respond to the earthquake-related needs of people directly related to our ministries here in Japan as well as loss that we have personally suffered due to the earthquake (which is very minor). Fellowship missionaries (Steve & Jacquie Willson, Rob & Kathryn Fleming, Paul & Jennifer Sadler) will directly administer these funds and make sure that they are used in the name of Christ to serve the most needy areas and provide reporting on the use of these funds through F.A.I.R.

Many of you in Fellowship churches will have opportunities to give to the F.A.I.R. Japan Earthquake Fund in Sunday services but if you would like to give directly please note the following links:

To donate to F.A.I.R.’s Japan earthquake fund click here:

https://www.fellowship.ca/qry/sd_donate.taf?dsfg=4&dsfd=333

To find out more click here:

http://www.fellowship.ca/qry/page.taf?id=308

If you are located outside of Canada, I would encourage you to go directly to the web-site for CRASH Japan:

http://www.crashjapan.com/

Thank you for your love and encouragement!
Paul & Jennifer Sadler
Brooke, Evan, Caleb

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We are missionaries

by admin on March 15, 2011

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Justice & the Common Good

by admin on March 15, 2011

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John 18:19-23

by Lon on March 14, 2011

Continuing our ongoing journey through the book of john

19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. ”I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”

22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.

23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, ”testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

The lens we see the world with shapes everything.

If our perspectives are skewed and we distrust reality then we can be staring at truth himself in the face, and we will not see him.

Why do we strike back at truth?  Sometimes it’s because it’s delivered unkindly.  But what of when it’s not?  How do you respond when someone speaks truth to your own wrong doing or your own mis-perceptions?

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John 18:15-18

by Lon on March 7, 2011

Continuing our journey through the book of John

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard,16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”

18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

Who is this other disciple?  John referred himself in the third person sometimes, but what intrigues me is whether this disciple as identified himself as so.

When the servant girl asks Peter if he’s a disciple too, could it be that the other disciple had owned up to his affiliation with Christ?

Are there times when you’re caught, unable to acknowledge Christ?  Sometimes it’s easier to blend among the rest and warm ourselves by the fire isn’t it?

Another perspective on this is if we time sliced this incident, Peter spoke the truth.  In the moment he said he wasn’t a disciple he wasn’t.

And what does that say of us and our daily actions?  Are we disciples?  followers of Christ?  Betrayers of Christ?  Or some mixture in-between?

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Greg Boyd on providence and chance

by Lon on March 1, 2011

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