. The Kumamoto-Oita Earthquake: Challenges for Kyushu District
Ten months have passed since the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquakes. (On Thursday, April 14, 2016 a destructive earthquake occurred.) The situation remains serious, but we in Kyushu District clearly feel the Lord’s hand amid the hardships. Our two main challenges are continuing support for disaster survivors in the region and providing aid to disaster-affected churches, congregations, and pastors.
1. Support for Disaster Survivors in the Region
Kyushu District and the General Assembly of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) collaborated to establish the "Volunteer Center Elpis (“hope” in Greek) Kumamoto," and our work there continues. At the time of establishment there were great numbers of disaster victims taking refuge in shelter facilities. We started up "Dream Café" within the shelter in Mifune-machi, which was being managed by the Kumamoto YMCA, and provided entertainment and a listening ear to the weary-hearted. Another popular activity offered by district pastors was a series of handcraft classes, some geared to children and others to adults. These activities continued until the shelter closed at the end of October.
On Dec. 14 we began to serve at the Minami-kinokura temporary housing complex (55 units). The trust we had built up in the preceding months has been a great help in this work. On Dec. 23 we held a Christmas gathering at this location. By request from the residents, the gathering featured a Christmas message by Elpis Director Kim Sung Hyo (pastor of KCCJ Kumamoto Church), a handbell concert by students from Fukuoka Futaba Senior High School, as well as a meal, sweets, and some cake to take home. Those who attended kindly said, “This wasn’t just like an ordinary party; it really moved our hearts.” We plan to continue to hold café events at several temporary housing complexes and, through these, we plan to provide a listening ear and support for daily living.
2. Support for Disaster-Affected Churches
Fifteen district churches suffered structural damage from the series of earthquakes, and church members and pastors were also deeply impacted. As a district we provided early support of ¥200,000 to each church member whose home suffered damage, and we are taking steps to respond to the needs of our pastors, who have labored with such devotion from the very first days—for example, by making health maintenance programs available to them.
Regarding church buildings, we commissioned W. M. Vories & Company Architects Ichiryusha to assess damages. As a result we estimate the costs of repair and rebuilding will be ¥180 million.
It remains difficult to find a local building contractor who is available to perform the necessary repairs or to rebuild. The rainy season and several typhoons since the earthquakes have caused the cracks and distortions in walls to grow more pronounced. We pray earnestly for the earliest possible resolution of these issues.
For the above reasons, the Kyodan initiated and is now promoting the “Donation Campaign for the Support of Reconstruction of Churches and Other Buildings Impacted by the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquakes” (target amount: ¥180 million).
—Umesaki Koji, moderator, Kyushu District
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II. The Tottori Earthquake in Higashi Chugoku District
On Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, at 14:07, a strong earthquake occurred, the epicenter of which was in central Tottori Prefecture. At Kurayoshi City, the tremor was measured at magnitude 6 on the seismic intensity scale.
The three Kyodan churches in Kurayoshi were all significantly damaged. Kurayoshi Church developed several visible cracks in its walls, but we believe the damage was not severe. Agei Church experienced damage in many spots, including the collapse and cracking of concrete sections of its exterior wall as well as falling plaster and cracking of the interior walls. We anticipate that much repair will be needed here.
In terms of structural damage, Kurayoshi Fukkatsu Church suffered the greatest impact. The church's perimeter wall and announcement board both collapsed; window sashes fell from the second floor; the main entrance door was toppled; plaster fell from walls; the floor was skewed; and many of the building's doors are now creaking due to structural distortions. Temporary repair has been done with plywood and blue vinyl sheets, but the damage appears to be too severe for repair and continued use. We have gathered council members of the three churches to discuss the future.
Destruction was not, of course, limited to church buildings. The homes of many members of these churches also suffered major damage. And just when we were finally returning to "normal" daily life, the region was hit by two heavy snowfalls in the new year. This caused water damage at Kurayoshi Fukkatsu Church, where the damaged roof had been a concern since the earthquake. At the sight of numerous roofs covered with blue-sheets while awaiting repair, one cannot help but feel the anxiety of many people.
Amid this situation, it was decided that the congregations of Kurayoshi Fukkatsu and Agei churches will hold joint Sunday services from April. There is still a mountain of challenges facing us, but we hope to move ahead steadily.
—Okuda Nozomu, pastor, Agei Church, Higashi Chugoku District
[From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times). Summarized by Kato Makoto, executive secretary.]
仮設での奉仕は12月14日に南木倉 （みなみきのくら）仮設団地（55戸）から開始 したが、避難所で結んだ信頼関係が大きな助けとなっている。23
2016年10月21日（金）14時7分、鳥取県中 部を震源とする地震が発生し、倉吉市内で震度6弱を観測し た。
教会建物に関して言えば、倉吉復活教 会の被害が一番深刻だった。外壁、掲示板の剥落、2階の窓のサッ シの落下、玄関扉の倒壊、壁のはがれや、床面のズレ、
このような状況の中、4月からは倉吉 復活教会と上井教会との合同 礼拝とすることも決断した。