On April 17, Northlake collected a special offering to help with relief efforts in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Over $10,000 was raised, and we are continuing to accept funds for this donation. Below is a note from Tetsuji and Kaori Noguchi, who offered these thoughts before the collection on the 17th. We thought many would appreciate reading and reflecting on their comments a second time….
I have experienced many earthquakes in Japan, but never one as terrible as this. As you know, many relief efforts are going on where the earthquake and tsunami hit. Many of these efforts have concentrated on keeping the people safe, but rebuilding houses, re-establishing businesses and rebuilding towns – these big projects that are still undone. The work is just beginning.
Many groups are reaching out to Japan from all around the world, and the Japanese people are very thankful. But think about this a moment. Why are we reaching out to them, and what are they expressing thanks for?
In Japanese, originally the word for love didn’t include God’s love. It just expressed emotion or feelings between people. They didn’t know what love truly was. Christian missionaries came and taught them the true meaning, but some have called Japan a “graveyard of missionaries.” In other words, these mission efforts appear to have not been effective during the 400 years of their service. They say that most people who are baptized lose faith within three years. The population of Christians in Japan is still less than 1%. We came from this land.
Originally, we hoped to lead the Japanese people living here in the United States to Christ. We came here about 10 years ago for sightseeing and found a small Japanese population. Most of them would come to church just to meet once a week, but not for worship.
It’s been 20 years since I was baptized, but I am still learning much about faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit is a strong power deep inside. It conveys what love is, who Jesus is and who our God is. Please take this opportunity to tell the people of Japan they can have salvation too, and they can return “home” to the God that created them. This has the potential to be not only a time for recovery from disaster, but also a time to help them understand the meaning of love – love based on the crucifixion of Jesus. Please deliver this message in a tangible way by joining us in giving to this relief effort.
Someone said this disaster is God’s judgment on the people of Japan, because they don’t believe in Him. But I think it is the beginning of a great work of salvation. He always cares for people who don’t know Him. He is still sad for the one sheep who is wandering. We pray for the many Japanese non-believers, that they will know the reality of God’s love.
I’d like to share my favorite children’s ministry song with you. It goes, “What should I offer to Jesus? The shepherds are offering lambs, the wise men are offering treasures. What should I offer? I am offering my heart.”
In the story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus told the disciples, “You feed them.” They counted their funds, and found the boy who had five loaves of bread and two fishes. They thought it would be quite impossible to feed five thousand people with only those resources. But Jesus can multiply things. We see evidence of this in Jesus’ great world, knowing He created it.
We really appreciate our Northlake family, because you have always demonstrated how God’s people love each other. Today I want to offer a special gift from my heart. May God continue to give Northlake His blessing and use us to help those who needs us.
To God be the glory, Amen.
Tetsuji & Kaori Noguchi