【June 2018 No.398】My Experience of Severe Shocks after the Kumamoto Earthquake

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

 In response to the Kumamoto Earthquake, which occurred on April 14, 2016, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo convened an emergency meeting at the Kyodan general office in Tokyo. As a result, I was sent as the executive secretary of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries to Kumamoto to participate in an on-site inspection and to deliver relief funds. After arriving in Fukuoka on April 15, the district secretary took me in his car towards Kumamoto. Since all hotels within Kumamoto City were closed as a result of the quake, I reserved a room at Yamaga Onsen, right outside the city.

 The next day (April 16) at 1:25 a.m., the main shock hit Kumamoto. I had just fallen asleep and awoke as I felt myself being forced up from my bed into the air. While holding onto my bed, I could hear the loud, eerie sound of the cracking of the hotel building. Four quakes, each with a magnitude in excess of 7, hit one after the other until 1:45 a.m. Then the pastors who had remained in their Kumamoto parsonages after the quake on April 14 left with their families and proceeded to evacuation sites, some of which were parks.

 Following a sleepless night, I headed for Kumamoto, drinking as little water as possible since the toilets were no longer working. Together with Kyushu District Moderator Umesaki Koji, I visited several quake-stricken churches in Kumamoto, beginning with Kusabacho Church. Later the same day, we returned to Fukuoka. Early in the morning of the following day, we took off in a rental car, heading once again for Kumamoto, this time to attend the Sunday morning worship service at Nishikigaoka Church where the tower of the church, which was a local landmark, had cracked badly. The church members were taking care of people affected by the quake.

 The sanctuary of Nishikigaoka Church was damaged, and the scheduled liturgist and organist for the service were not there. Although Pastor Kawashima Naomichi undoubtedly had no chance to prepare for the sermon, he delivered a message I remember vividly to this day. During a time when even the safety of the church members could not be confirmed, in the throes of extreme fatigue, Pastor Kawashima spoke about depending on “the certainty of God’s word.” During this time of crisis, I was reminded of the very ordinary reality that God’s word and worship is life for believers.

 Upon returning to my hotel in Fukuoka, as I sat down on my bed, I noticed that my body was swaying. Aftershocks from the quake continued for some time, and that was the cause. (Tr. DM)

 

熊本地震・本震を経験して

 2016年4月14日に起きた熊本地震に対して教団本部では石橋秀雄 議長を中心に緊急会議が開かれ、九州教区への見舞金を携え、私、加藤世界宣教幹事を現地視察のために派遣した。15日に福岡入りした私は、教区書記の車に同乗させて もらい熊本を目指した。熊本市内のホテルは地震の影響で全て休業だったので、手前の山鹿温泉に宿を取った。日付が16日に代わった午前1時25分、 熊本を本震が襲った。私は寝入りばな突然体が宙に浮き目覚めた。ベッドにしがみつきながら、旅館全体が軋む不気味なしかも大きな音を 聞かされた。マグニチュード7を超える地震が1時45分まで断続的に4回 起きた。14日の地震では牧師館に留まっていた熊本の牧師たち も、本震を受けて市内では全家族が牧師館を出て公園等に避難した。眠れぬ夜を過ごし、トイレが使えないことを想定し水分を控えて熊本 に向かった。梅﨑浩二九州教区議長とも合流し、熊本草葉町を皮切りに被 災した教会を問安した。この日は一旦福岡に引換し、翌17日の日曜日は早朝にレンタカーを借り再び熊本を目 指した。錦ヶ丘教会の礼拝に出席するためであった。教会は地域のランドマークであった塔にひびが生じ、避難した教会関係者を家族全員 でお世話していた。会堂内も損傷し、オルガンの伴奏もなければ司会者も不在。川島直道牧師に説教の準備をするゆとりも全くない中での 礼拝であった。しかし語られたメッセージは今でも鮮明に覚えている。教会員の安否確認も取れない中、疲労の極限で「み言葉の確かさ」 に私たちは頼る、と語られた。み言葉と礼拝が信仰者の命であるという当たり前の事に非常時の中、改めて教えられた。福岡に戻りホテル のベッドに腰掛けていると、小刻みに自分の体が揺れていることに気が付いた。本震の後も絶え間なく余震が続いていた。その影響であっ た。(加藤誠)

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