"And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven."
From Belind's Desk: Last summer, just after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I was able to participate in several Operation Safe children’s trauma training seminars. Last month, during our spring break I had the opportunity to go up to Ishinomaki and actually participate in the program itself.
Operation Safe Event:
We held two five-day Opsafe children’s programs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning program was held at a school whose first floor had been flooded to the ceiling with tsunami waters. Most of the windows were covered with plywood. The gym, in which we held the program, was deemed stable enough for us to use, however, there was no electricity. We had a borrowed generator, a couple of kerosene space heaters, (it was really cold, and even snowed a bit), and some area rugs for the kids to sit on. The large windows let just enough light in from the sun except when it would slip behind the clouds.
Between 20 and 30 children showed up each day for the morning program. What a blessing to see them all having so much fun learning about God’s love for them as they made crafts, played games, listened to the Bible story and made treats they could eat.
Operation Safe works just like a VBS, where the kids go from one station to the next, learning the Bible verses, themes and dances for each day and especially hearing the gospel and learning about God’s love for them.
The afternoon program was held in a smaller building in a neighborhood nearby, but thankfully, it had heat and electricity. It was in a notoriously rough neighborhood, known for gang-like antagonism between the families living in this area or that, or in this housing complex or the other. Some of the older elementary aged children who came were very physically and verbally disruptive.
As my part was to pray and to encourage the leaders, it was a great blessing to see God work in them as they patiently did their best to demonstrate the love of God to these difficult and distraught kids. It was also a wonderful thing to see even the roughest of kids sit and listen almost attentively to the Bible stories and hear the gospel message. The snack station was a highlight and motivation for a lot of these kids since they were, more often than not, without regular meals, being cared for and often neglected by a single parent or grandparent or other relative.
The greatest blessing for me was seeing so many of these children from both programs bowing their heads to receive Christ’s salvation.
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Our Earthly bodies may be in Japan, but our hearts and prayers are with you!