Oregon Church Leads Efforts to Help Disaster Victims in Japan

TIGARD, Ore. (Northwest Baptist Witness) — Pastor Kenji Yokoy would tell you he doesn’t try to grab the spotlight, that he’s simply pursuing God’s will for his family, his community and his congregation, Japanese International Baptist Church (JIBC), in Tigard, Ore.

But JIBC has caught the attention of multiple secular groups in and around Portland, Ore. These groups are using the church’s work as a model for their own efforts to help disaster victims in Japan.

Yokoy said this type of partnership has been years in the making, particularly during the last several months.

“God’s just been really opening doors,” he said.

Since 2011, JIBC has sent disaster relief volunteers abroad through its Hope Japan ministry. Most recently, teams responded to devastating floods in Western Japan in August, and to a deadly earthquake in the northern island of Hokkaido in September.

Yokoy said the August trip did much to strengthen JIBC’s relationship with disaster agencies in Japan, so much so the church was one of the first calls relief agencies made when seeking volunteers in Hokkaido. Yokoy said it has been a challenge to gain the trust of Japanese volunteer groups, but that God has been moving powerfully to form strong, meaningful connections.

God’s hand was moving domestically as well, particularly with the Japan-America Society of Oregon (JASO), whose leadership includes prominent businesses people and community organizers. While JASO has been aware of JIBC’s ministries, historically the church has not had a seat at the table.

This has changed dramatically.

After seeing how effective JIBC’s efforts were in Western Japan this summer, Doug Smith, a JASO organizer, said he wishes JASO had played a role alongside the church.

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Source: Baptist Press