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On November 24th and 25th of November the 4/14 Window movement arrived in Japan culminating a year of preparation with the first national conference encouraging a focus on children for God’s kingdom.
Pastors Nam Soo Kim and Herman Mendoza from Promise Church in New York, Jess Curabo of AWANA Asia and Ruby Johnston of World Without Orphans were international guest speakers joined by dozens of locals who led practical workshops or shared the importance of children and youth from a Japanese perspective.
The reality of the Japanese context is that nearly half of churches no longer have a regular children’s ministry. This is partially due to the changing demographics of Japan’s population that has steadily become silver, but in the church it is even more extreme.
For humanitarian organizations like CRASH Japan and Samaritan’s Purse it means that local churches are more likely to be connected to the elderly than responsive to the needs of children in their communities. Since both the elderly and children are the most vulnerable when disasters strike it is paramount that the church serve both and build up trust and relationship with children and the elderly before a crisis.
The 4/14 Window Movement has made a good beginning in Japan. Our hope is that over the next few years regional groups could be formed to bring the focus on children to every part of Japan.
The seminar was held at Ueno Holiness Church on October 8th, pastors were invited from Arakawa, Sumida, Taito, Koto and Chuo wards of Tokyo. The seminar was sponsored by the DRCnet Tokyo Disaster Preparedness Project and co-sponsored by CRASH JAPAN. 40 people attended the seminar. In the morning, there were three sessions. First, Kazu Kurihara from CRASH showed a PowerPoint presentation concerning the predicted risk of the coming earthquake disaster and how to reduce the risk, as we need to pay special attention to eastern Tokyo, which is subject to flooding. Second, Pastor Matsumoto, chairman of the Japan Evangelical Association disaster relief committee, spoke on the need of church network to cope with disaster. He emphasized the importance of a leader who can take an initiative to start face-to-face community within walking distance. In the final morning session, Jonathan Wilson, director of CRASH spoke on how to help the vulnerable. A highlight of this seminar was the introduction of a Salvation Army canteen car, which has a rice cooker system that can make 100 servings in 20 min. We were able to eat GYUDON (Beef Bowl) for lunch prepared by this canteen car. After lunch participants divided into small groups and discussed how to start church networks. The purpose of these networks is to create a face-to-face disaster reduction community. Through this seminar in Taito ward, seven churches have been networked and are ready to go.