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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Tokyo Baptist woman focuses on ministering to tsunami survivorscomment (0)

March 22, 2012

By Susie Rain


Tokyo Baptist woman focuses  on ministering to tsunami survivors

The piles of rubble and debris are gone. Cars deposited atop apartment buildings and ships stranded on streets by the March 11, 2011, tsunami have been carted off. The “smell of death” has been replaced by the fragrance of fresh cut-pine and construction.

Yoko Dorsey is so excited about the changes that she makes a big sweeping motion with her arms and asks in her loud cheery voice, “What do you think?” The 60-year-old’s smile crinkles her round face.

I was here a year ago, but I don’t recognize the neighborhood anymore. I stare at the empty lots, trying to numb my welling emotions. Dorsey understands and slips her arm around me.

“I know,” the short Japanese woman whispers softly up to my ear. 

“Remember our first trip and how we cried together on this very street?” Dorsey asked, referencing the assessment trip from Tokyo Baptist Church soon after the disaster struck 250 miles north of the city. “Remember we prayed for God’s guidance in reaching this neighborhood? Well, He’s answering our prayers. Come see!”

Our paths first crossed two days after Japan’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis. Dorsey was the first person to arrive for the meeting and has never stopped working since, even moving from Tokyo to an apartment as close as she could get to the Okaido community in the city of Ishinomaki — 40 minutes away.

Most people in this area did not receive government help because everything wasn’t destroyed. So, volunteer teams from Tokyo Baptist Church shoveled out toxic mud, carted off debris and now help the community with construction. She grabs my arm and pulls me out the door. We are late for Bible study. We walk to a green pre-fabricated home in the middle of the neighborhood.

“I don’t know who painted that,” Dorsey said, shaking her head and smiling at the blue and white logo of Tokyo Baptist Church and cross painted on the aluminum siding of this church plant. “I came back from Tokyo one time and it was there. The people are really getting involved and making it their own.”

Dorsey pulls out her thick Bible and begins discipling these new believers. Four have made decisions to follow Jesus since December. 

“No one was open to Jesus here in the beginning. I talk about Jesus but they say, ‘What is Jesus?’” Dorsey remembers. She gives a sly smile and adds, “So, I follow my favorite verse (Matt. 7:7) and knock and believe the door will open. I knock on all of the doors.”

Tsuneko Nakashio tells me God sent His helping hand through Dorsey and the Tokyo church. In fact, the relationship saved her life.

The new Christian looks down at the ground and swallows hard before diving into her story of survival. 

Nakashio quietly admits that a few months after the disaster she was looking for a place to kill herself among the giant piles of rubble when she heard laughter. She saw Tokyo Baptist Church volunteers working and Dorsey invited her to join them. She followed them to a worship service and there, the darkness and gloom began to fade.

“People need to know why the darkness is gone,” Dorsey said.

We sit in comfortable silence, letting Dorsey’s one-sentence lesson about the importance of a testimony sink in. Then out of the blue, my friend asks if I remember Nakashio from my previous visits.

“She have joy in her face now. You probably remember her walking around with a ‘lady duck face’ when she was sad,” Dorsey said, squashing her lips out to look like a duck’s bill.

Adoration radiates from Nakashio’s face as she sits laughing with her spiritual mentor. 

There are more smiles and tears here than I’ve seen in all of my trips to northeastern Japan since the tsunami. People are no longer suspicious but open and welcoming to outsiders. 

Dorsey’s eyes twinkle as I finally realize why she’s so excited — God is answering our prayers. 

(BP)

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