Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CRASH Japan: How One Organization Is Working Hard to Bring Jesus to Japan

In this photo Rebekah (left) was doing survivor care—caring for this grandmother’s (right) heart post-earthquake. In the morning this Japanese grandmother didn’t have any hope left to live. By afternoon Rebekah and the other missionary pictured had helped this woman regain purpose in her life.

Rebekah Suzuki ’05 will never forget March 11, 2011—her contract at work had ended and this was her first day of unemployment. She had been praying that God would lead her to the right job where He could fully use her. And then the earthquake hit.

The 8.9 quake was one of the largest in recorded history, hitting off the northeast coast of Japan. And then the tsunami came—23-foot waves ravaged Japan’s coast, devastating towns and killing people, adding to the destruction of Rebekah’s small country.
Thankfully Rebekah was in Tokyo when the quake and tsunami hit, and because earthquakes are common in Japan, she wasn’t initially alarmed. But when a woman’s baby carriage fell over, people started rushing out of buildings, trains stopped running and the shaking wouldn’t stop, she knew this was different. And she felt all of this just under 200 miles away from the epicenter in Sendai, Japan.
After the earthquake hit, Rebekah walked through the center of Tokyo—it took her 5 hours to walk only 20 kilometers. As far as she could see, everyone was visibly shaken, but Rebekah noticed something strange. Usually people in Tokyo don’t interact with one another; what she saw was different. Everyone was encouraging each other. “When I saw this,” she said, “I knew Japan would never be the same.”
Only three days later Rebekah started helping CRASH Japan (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope). This organization prepares Christians in Japan to be ready to help when disaster strikes. The organization is committed to showing Jesus’ love to people in real ways when they are at their lowest. CRASH also supports Christians who do relief work worldwide, preparing churches and mission organizations to immerse themselves in communities when disaster strikes and needs are high.
“We started off with 15 people—mostly missionaries in the Tokyo area—working for CRASH right after the quake,” Rebekah said. “I was the only bilingual person, and the other helpers were mostly missionaries. I had the time to help because I wasn’t working.”
Since the earthquake hit, CRASH Japan has been growing rapidly. They have partnered with over 50 organizations, churches and nonprofits that are donating things to CRASH daily. They are also working with World Vision to provide child-safe environments, and Samaritan’s Purse to distribute large amounts of supplies they have imported.
“I have never seen the Body of Christ work so beautifully together in the midst of crisis,” says Rebekah. Everyone involved with CRASH is dedicated to working together and are humble in their approach to work. “It’s been neat to see needs being filled so quickly,” she continues. “For example, one day we desperately needed an artist who knew how to use Illustrator and Photoshop. I walked into a room of 50 people and asked. Just as I asked, a lady walked through the door raising her hand, saying she was a professional artist!”
Rebekah’s work with CRASH is a dream come true. As a college student she dreamed of going into ministry in Japan when she was done with school. But that door hadn’t opened for her and she didn’t understand why. Instead, she ended up working in the business world in Tokyo. Now she works as executive assistant to the Relations Department at CRASH, and Rebekah can’t believe that every single skill she learned at her last job is needed at CRASH. “God knew best and was preparing me for the role I’m in right now. At the time, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t jump right into ministry. Looking back, I know God was and is in control.”
Not only does she work in the Relations Department, she also works closely with students—Japanese and missionary students. After the disaster, a lot of the schools closed down. As a result, these students have come to volunteer with CRASH. “Age doesn’t matter anymore in Japan,” says Rebekah. “When I ask students who can help, 30 hands shoot up in the air before I’ve finished my sentence. Students mostly help with press and video-making, but they are also answering phone calls, helping in our IT Department, and picking up slack in our command center.” They have also taken initiative and have been going into the center of Tokyo to raise money. Every day they come back with a bucket full of money, a handful of stories, and hearts full from sharing the gospel with others.
Rebekah says it’s been eye-opening to watch God blessing CRASH. “He’s been opening—no, plowing—through 10 doors at a time. I’ve never seen Him work this hard, and His followers humbly work for Him offering all they have.” She continues, “I know this is where God wants me to be.”

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