RCJ Kumamoto thanks supporters – Sept 2016

After our involvement in Kumamoto support work, together with many others,

RCJ Kumamoto Church’s pastor wrote a letter of feedback and thanksgiving.

Please read it here below.

RCJ Kumamoto Thank you

To all our brothers and sisters in the Lord,

both in the whole country of Japan and overseas.

From the Christian Reformed Church of Japan, RCJ Kumamoto

From the bottom of our hearts we lift up and praise the name of the living God, the almighty Creator of the whole world, He who with his loving hand rules everything!

On the 14th of April 2016 and 16 days later, two large earthquakes rocked the area of Kumamoto. Many people were killed, houses collapsed and people lost their livelihood.

Even today many people are still experiencing the daily strain of a prolonged life in evacuation conditions, the fear of aftershocks, great financial difficulties. They muster stressful efforts towards the recovery of their living conditions.

The main shock occurred in the early hours of a Saturday morning. The safety of all the members of the RCJ congregation of Kumamoto could be quickly confirmed and on the next day, the Day of the Lord, we could observe our worship service.

Except for the eight attendees, there was one young man was from the Eastern Presbytery, who brought supplies and water which he collected on his way in the City of Fukuoka. The next day, the 18th (Monday), the minister from RCJ Nagaoka congregation in Fukuoka, together with his wife and a deacon visited Kumamoto congregation, bringing a lot of supplies which they collected from homes of their congregation members. They also cleaned the chapel and manse of all the scattered items.

All the supplies were arranged in the chapel and a sign was put outside the church building reading: “Relief supplies have arrived!” People from the neighbourhood immediately responded and one by one arrived at the church entrance. From about 4 pm the RJC Kumamoto church began with a humble ministry of being a relief center for our community and the victims around us.

Since then many have visited the RCJ Kumamoto relief center. People from the neighbourhood who happened to pass by, people who were invited by friends and acquaintances and also people from far away who have heard about the center came for help.

Some came on behalf of others who could not come themselves, some even came once to fetch a big quantity of supplies to distribute at other evacuation centers. There were those who came to fetch some needed items and returned immediately to their homes and there were those who stayed at the chapel, drinking tea and chatting.

The chapel also became the playground/room of children who had extra time after school or over weekends. Young mothers brought their children and while drinking tea they often spent long hours at the church just relaxing. During their stay each one shared their experiences of the earthquake. They talked about their anxiety amidst all the aftershocks and their fears of a next big earthquake.

There were also those who shared the troubles and burdens of their whole life thus far.

We have the impression that God has been opening people’s hearts for that day when the final big earthquake will happen…

We have been receiving opportunities to meet with people from the neighbourhood and to share with them as never before! Children happily said: “This place is like heaven, where we receive tea for free!” Many people were happy for the signboard that was erected, the doors of the church that opened and that they could enter the church.

Three months after the earthquake, in other words since July, the distribution of supplies was stopped, and the door of the chapel no longer opened every day. Considering the spiritual needs of the people, the church is now primarily functioning as a “Relax Center”. This is as the RCJ Synodical Diaconal Commission reported in its publication “Living together.”

After that, as we entered the summer holiday season, we obtained the co-operation of the Kyushu Christian Disaster Relief Center and had some events for the children of Kumamoto. Since then, 4 months after the earthquake, we are presently running three activities or projects at the Kumamoto church:

  • A KNITTING project,
  • A CONVERSATION (talk / chat) room and
  • A PLAYROOM for children.

A number of children have been coming to the Sunday school (for the first time). Also after Sunday school, these children would stay on, during the worship service play quietly in the children’s room, have lunch together with the congregation and even stay until evening, when they will go home. There are also adults who have been coming for the first time to the Sunday worship services.

We herewith want to express our heartfelt gratitude

  • Thank you to all pastors who arranged people to visit us after the earthquake and the sending of supplies;
  • You who contacted us regularly, who with compassion gave us proper advice;
  • Thank you for the sending of Rev. Keiichi Yamanaka who helped with the launching and operation of the center, and guide us in how to support the community and individuals;
  • Thank you to those people who spent much time bringing huge amounts of supplies;
  • To the people from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of America who came all the way from North-East Japan with supplies and also helped with the renovation of the chapel;
  • Thank you to the many volunteers who spent time with the victims of the earthquake and sacrificially worked at the center,
  • We thank the Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary and the brothers and sisters of the Church who sent them;
  • Thank you to Mission Japan of the Dutch Reformed Church-family of South Africa, for fully funding the volunteer activities of the six teams of Theological students etc. from Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary to Kumamoto;
  • Thank you to all members of the whole RCJ for sending a wide variety of very useful goods to serve the affected people, foods and household goods, comics, candy, handmade articles, etc.;
  • Thank you for your letters, cards and messages of warm encouragement, everything supported with your loving compassion and your prayers;
  • Thank you for your precious donations which you offered so generously.

We express our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation in the Lord to all of you, our dear brothers and sisters who have taken it on you to carry the Kumamoto earthquake and our Relief Center in your prayers.

People in the midst of evacuation life came to the center tired, received supplies and always left with much more calm facial expressions. When they saw all the supplies coming from churches all over the country they became happy and received new strength. Through their interaction with the volunteer staff-members they received healing and encouragement. All of them expressed sincere gratitude.

All the many “thank you”’s we have received we want to send to all of you.

Further, the fact that we could continue until now is also because of the co-operation of the Kyushu Christian Relief Center. We received a lot of support from people helping with the concert as well as the kids English class.

Kuriyama missionary couple from “Yarn Alive” in North-East Japan took full responsibility in the launching of our “Knitting Project.” From Sendai in the North to Kumamoto in the South they traveled twice by car to deliver a lot of wool and knitting equipment.

Also from the people form North-East Japan who are in a similar situation we received warm support. From other Church Denominations we received prayer-support, pastoral visits and material support.

 From the depth of our hearts: Thank you very much!

“When one member suffers, all suffer together, when one member rejoices. all rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12: 26).” Likewise our walk until now and from here further is together with all members of the Body of Christ.

Everything is under the rule of our Almighty Father, the Lord God.

Looking joyfully forward to the abundant fruition, on that Day of the Lord, of our prayers and works. Our desire is to steadfastly continue with this ministry.

May the unlimited love and grace of the Lord be with each one of you.

31 August 2016                           

The Christian Reformed Church of Japan, Kumamoto Congregation

Rev. Hajime Nishibori

(this letter was translated from Japanese by Tobie de Wet, edited by Stéphan van der Watt)



Nuusflits / Newsflash – 1 September 2016

Vir September 2016 se Afrikaanse Nuusflits, kliek hier

For September 2016’s English Newsflash, click here


Spring-Summer Snippets in 2016

View this 9 minute clip about our (Van der Watt family’s) life 

and church ministry activities in Kobe, during March through June 2016.

For best quality YOUTUBE viewing:

Please make sure to select 1080p on the range of HD options when you view this film on YouTube…and don’t forget to turn up the volume. If a Japanese advertisement appears, just close it.



Newsflash June / Nuusflits Junie (2016)


Liewe vriende,

Ons is nou in die pylvak van ons Japan besoek, die laaste twee weke van ‘n volle drie maande. Eerskomende naweek preek ek by RCJ Tokushima gemeente. Intussen woon Stephan volgende week ‘n drie-dag RCJ Retreat by vir ampsdraers (suid van Tokyo). Ons laaste naweek in Japan is Stephan weer in Kumamoto vir ondersteuningswerk, terwyl ons gelukkig hier is om saam met Carina die fort te hou. Dankie nogmaals vir jul belangstelling, meelewing en gebeds-ondersteuning.

Ek wil graag met hierdie nuusbrief iets deel van die RCJ Teologiese Kweekskool en ons indrukke. Lees asb. hieronder verder.

Vriendelike groete,

Tobie en Annalie de Wet


Dear friends,

As we are nearly at the end of our three months’ stay with Stephan and Carina on the Campus of the Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary – where Stephan has been inducted as lecturer in Pastoral Theology and Care – and as we had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to become part of the life of the lecturers and students, I want to share something of our impressions (read here below the photos and the Afrikaans version).

Thank you for you prayers and support, we really appreciate it!

In Christ,

Tobie and Annalie De Wet

Ons indrukke (deur Tobie en Annalie de Wet):
  • Dit was inderdaad ‘n geseënde ervaring om vir drie maande saam met Stephan en sy gesin op die kampus van die Kobe Gereformeerde Teologiese Kweekskool te bly en iets van die atmosfeer en gees (etos) van hierdie welbekende en hoog-aangeskrewe inrigting in Christen- en Gereformeerde kringe in Japan en naburige Korea te beleef.
  • Die nuwe en indrukwekkende geboue met verblyfgeriewe vir studente en hulle gesinne, so wel as as die huise van die dosente, is na die groot aardbewing in Kobe in 1995 opgerig. Die woonstelblok waar ons destyds gebly het toe ons besig was met ons Japannese taalstudie in Kobe, is totaal verwoes tydens daardie aardbewing, en so ook die RCJ Ashiya-kerk oorkant die straat!
  • Hier studeer tans 18 Japannese students en 6 Koreaanse studente (onder andere ‘n aantal vroue) onder drie voltydse dosente (Stephan ingesluit) en ongeveer 15 deeltydse dosente, almal predikante van the Christen Gereformeerde Kerk van Japan. Een dosent is ‘n vrou wat ‘n sendeling van die RCJ en dosent aan die Teologiese Instituut in Singapore was.
  • Vir toelating tot die Kweekskool as student is ‘n voorvereiste ‘n vierjaar-graad aan ‘n universiteit, asook ‘n heelhartige toewyding tot die etos, dissipline en lewe van die Kweekskool.
  • Sommige van die studente is reeds predikante in hulle denominasies maar kom om ‘n beter Gereformeerde grondslag te verkry. Heelwat studente kom selfs van Korea.
  • Elke oggend begin met ‘n biduur (voor ontbyt) om 6:40, waar een van die studente hier ‘n kort boodskap bring (terwyl ons hier was die afgelope paar maande het hulle hoofstuk-gewys deur die boek Job gewerk!). Tussen oggendlesings deur het hulle elke oggend nog ‘n diens in die kapel, waartydens dosente (en soms studente) beurtelings ‘n boodskap uit die Woord bring.
  • Studente (saam met dosente) is ook self verantwoordelik vir die skoonmaak van die geboue en kampusterrein. Vrydagmiddae is skoonmaaktyd.
  • Hierdie is inderdaad ‘n ware Gereformeerde Kweekskool waar Calvinistiese Gerformeerde Teologie onderrig word. Ons Gereformeerde Belydenisse en Gereformeerde geloofstradisies speel ‘n deurslaggewende rol. Dosente en predikers sal herhaaldelik veral verwys na Calvyn en sy Institusie en die stellings daarin vervat beklemtoon.
  • Dus staan die Bybel as Woord van God heeltemal sentraal in alle byeenkomste en lesings. Preke is nie net Bybels geskoei nie, maar ook verklarende prediking, wat gewoonlik bestaan uit vers-vir-vers uitleg van ‘n bepaalde Bybelse perikoop en/of verhaal  (meestal sonder enige stories en baie min, indien enige, illustrasies). Preke is van ‘n hoë gehalte gekenmerk deur goeie eksegese en altyd uitstekend voorberei.
  • Hierdie Kweekskool (en Gereformeerde Kerk van Japan) is evangelies van aard en fokus. Jesus Christus en redding deur en in die gekruisigde en opgestane Christus, staan sentraal. Dit is die fokus van die hele Bybel. en ons enigste hoop en troos vir nou en tot in ewigheid, die kerk se enigste boodskap vir die wêreld.
  • Daaglikse gebed speel ‘n groot rol in die opset van die Kweekskool, waartydens in groepe gebid word vir mekaar en vir die kerk, en altyd met die “Onse Vader” afgesluit word. Die Koreaanse studente, wat kom uit kerke waar talle gewone lidmate elke oggend bymekaarkom vir bidure, hou selfs oor naweke ekstra gebedsbyeenkomste.
  • Alhoewel die akademiese standaard baie hoog is en die studente akademies baie hard werk (basies is alle RCJ Japannese predikante akademici wat baie hard studeer, en elk dag baie ure bestee om teologie op te lees en vir preke en Bybelstudies en praatjies voor te berei), word groot klem gelê op Christen-opvoeding en die geestelike opbou van die  studente.
  • Alle studente word toegewys aan ‘n RCJ-gemeente by wie hulle elke Sondag betrokke en van hulp met die bediening van die gemeente moet wees, as deel van hulle praktiese ervaring.
  • Ten laaste, maar ook van groot belang: Die Kobe Gereformeerde Kweekskool is doelbewus nie ‘n universiteit nie maar ‘n Teologiese Kweekskool wat uitsluitlik deur die klein, landwye Christen Gereformeerde Kerk van Japan (RCJ) befonds word vir die opleiding van predikante en sendelinge/evangeliste.
  • Ons as Missie Japan en ons ondersteunende kerke en lidmate in SA kan opreg trots wees om deur Stephan betrokke te wees by hierdie wonderlike Kweekskool en die opleiding van Japannese en Koreaanse leraars en evangeliste, en die uitstuur van hierdie manne en vroue om plaaslike gemeentes te bedien en om uit te reik na die onbereikte miljoene mense van hierdie mooi land en groot nasie!
  • Stephan se spesialiteit van Pastorale Sorg is ‘n baie belangrike stuk toerusting, nie net vir predikante om hulle gemeentes pastoraal te versorg nie, maar ook om uit te reik na en berading te verskaf aan so baie mense buite die kerk met vele emosionele en sielkundige nood en behoeftes. Een van van Stephan se mede-dosente het onlangs tydens ‘n pastorale praatjie in ‘n predikantebyeenkoms wat ek ook bygewoon het , genoem dat volgens ‘n opname meer as 70%  Japannese wat vir die eerste keer kerk bygewoon het (en uiteindelik gelowig geword het) het gekom as gevolg van ‘n diep emosionele of sielkundige behoefte.
  • Die feit dat Stephan en Carina as gesin op die kampus woon en ‘n integrale deel van die Kweekskool is, word hier as baie belangrik beskou. Carina het saam met Stephan daaglikse interaksie met die studente en hul gesinne  en hulle is saam betrokke by hul pastorale versorging. Sy is ook aktief betrokke by die plaaslike gemeente met die Kweekskool se Kapel as basis. Dit natuurlik bo en behalwe haar voltydse werk as tuiste skepper en tuisskool onderwyser van haar vier kinders.


Our impressions of KRTS (written by Tobie de Wet)

  • It was indeed a blessed experience to stay for three months, together with Stephan and family, on the campus of the Kobe Theological Seminary and taste a little of the atmosphere and spirit (ethos) of this well-known and respected institution in Christian and Reformed circles in Japan and in neighboring Korea.
  • The new and impressive buildings with dormitories for students and their families and homes for lecturers were erected after the big eartquake in Kobe of 1995. The apartment building in which we lived when we were in Kobe doing our Japanese language studies, was completely destroyed in that earthquake, and so also the RCJ Ashiya church across the road.
  • At the moment 18 Japanese students and 6 Korean students (including some women) are studying under three full-time lecturers (including Stephan) and 15 part-time lecturers, all ministers in the Christian Reformed Church of Japan. One lecturer is a lady who has been a missionary from the RCJ and lecturer in a Theological Institution in Singapore.
  • For acceptance at the Seminary as a student, you have to be a four-year graduate from a university and be committed to the ethos, disciplne and life of the Seminary.Some of the students are already ministers in their denominations but are coming here to have a better Reformed foundation, even from Korea.
  • Every morning begins with a pre-breakfast prayer meeting at 6:40, where one of the students brings a short message (the past months while we were here they were working chapter-by-chapter through the Book of Job). Between morning lectures they also have (every morning) a chapel service where students and lecturers take turns to preach the Word.
  • Students (together with the lecturers) are also themselves responsible for cleaning the buildings and campus grounds. Friday afternoons is cleaning time.
  • This is indeed a truly Reformed Seminary where Calvinistic Reformed theology is taught. Our Reformed Creeds and Confessions (especially the Westminister Confession) and Reformed Traditions are playing a determining role. Lecturers and preachers will always again and again refer especially to Calvin and his Institutes in emphasizing their statements.
  • Therefore, the Bible as Word of God is completely at the centre of all meetings and lectures. Sermons are not only Bible-based but also expositary preaching, expounding and applying the Biblical text (with very few, if any, illustrations or stories). Sermons are of high quality marked by very good exegesis and always well-prepared.
  • This Seminary (and RCJ Church) is very evangelical in its essence and focus, always preaching Christ and the salvation through and in Christ, leading us back to the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, Saviour-Lord, the focus of the whole Bible and our only hope and comfort for now and eternity and the church’s one and only message for the world.
  • Daily prayer is playing a big role in the operation of the seminary, praying for one another and for the church, praying in groups, always closing with the “Lord’s Prayer.” The Korean students, coming from churches where thousands of ordinary members gather every morning for prayer meetings, are even conducting weekly “extra” prayer meetings over the weekends.
  • Though the academic standard is very high and the students are working very hard academically (basically all RCJ Japanese pastors are academics studying very hard, spending many hours everyday in their studies to read theology and prepare sermons and Bible Studies and talks), big emphasis is layed on the Christian education and the spiritual formation of the students.
  • All the students are sent to a congregation in the RCJ where they attend every Sunday. They are involved and assist in the ministry of that congregation, as part of their practical experience.
  • The Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary is deliberately not a university but a Theological Seminary, funded exclusively by the small Christian Reformed Church of Japan for the training of ministers and missionaries/evangelists.
  • We as Mission Japan and our supporting churches and members in SA can truly feel proud to be involved through Stephan in this great Seminary and in the training of Japanese and Korean pastors and evangelists and sending them out to minister in local congregations and to reach the unreached millions of this beautiful country and great nation!
  • Stephan’s speciality of Pastoral Care is very important, equipping not only pastors to take care of their congregations in a pastoral way, but also in the reaching out to and counselling of so many people outside the church with many emotional and psychological needs. One of Stephan’s co-lecturers mentioned in a talk on pastoral care at a ministers’ meeting I attended the other day, that according to a survey, more than 70% of Japanese who have been coming to church for the first time (and eventually becoming believers), have come because of an emotional and psychological need.
  • The fact that Stephan and Carina are living as a family on the campus and are an integral part of the Seminary, its personnel and students, is seen as very important. Together Stephan and Carina have almost daily interaction with the students and their families, and are involved in their pastoral care. Carina is also actively involved in the local RCJ congregation with the Seminary Chapel as their base. Over and above this, Carina has the big responsibility of taking care of their household and guiding and conducting the homeschooling of their four children.

Kumamoto feedback / terugvoer (28 April 2016)



Dear friends in Christ,

This time the English report, about our first outreach after the Kumamoto disaster (which took place from 25 -29 April), took longer than I planned. But, better late than never (with apology)!

The earth quake disaster has created countless new opportunities for the church, of ministering to people with very real needs. In a country with less than 1% Christians, the church is mostly “invisible” in the community. Most Japanese people feel uneasy, uncertain and sometimes even somehow hostile toward the church / Christians.

But the number of people crossing the entrance of RCJ Kumamoto during our outreach, exceeded that of the normal attendance over many months’ worship services. Relationships that were initiated are waiting to be developed and deepened. Local church members need consistent prayers, encouragement and concrete leadership from various sources. Hundreds of people have had contact with the body of Christ for the first time ever.

Therefore, after we finished our outreach, another team followed-up with a second outreach (between 9-13 May). One of those team members even stayed behind until today. From tomorrow Tobie and Annalie De Wet will also visit and serve the congregation and community, until May 25th. And after that, for the next four weekends, four pairs of our seminary students (studying at KRTS – Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary) will reach out and assist the local pastor and his wife with many new ministry responsibilities. I will also join this again from 17-20 June.

Now – as with the tsunami in the Sendai in 2011 – the local church has her first opportunity of becoming more visible and more actively ministering to others in the community. With the assistance of Mission Japan’s supporters, in conjunction with the wider RCJ (including Shikoku Presbytery), as well as KRTS, we are staying involved in this crucial time for this small RCJ church.

Read more here below … for a comprehensive feedback on our first outreach, as well as for more photos.

And please keep us all – who are involved in the outreaches, as well as the local church and community of Kumamoto – in your prayers.

We appreciate your continuing support!

God’s peace, in Christ.






Situation at time of our outreach project (27 April)

  • 8 400 homes were damaged (more than in the big 1995 Kobe earth quake);
  • 36 000 people still find themselves in shelters (e.g. schools);
  • There are plans for 4 200 homes to be erected;
  • More than 1 000 aftershocks have been experienced, and are still occurring;
  • Many people are living in parking areas, in their cars (as their homes are unsafe);
  • Products in shops are rapidly sold out, fresh products being especially scarce;

Our involvement, in conjunction with RCJ Kumamoto congregation

  • In the area surrounding the congregation physical damage is little, compared to certain other parts. But the emotional wounds are clearly visible. The vulnerability of children and the aged is especially clear.
  • For the past three days a steady stream of people came to the church for essential supplies such as water, food, gas cans (to prepare food with) etc. Some fetched diapers for babies, others canned foods. These are being made available for free through the support of other RCJ congregations. Other goods were collected for free from an interdenominational Christian support centre which had been founded for emergency relief.
  • Mission Japan’s funds were e.g. used to pay for our team’s travelling expenses and meals, as well as toys for children who came to the church (they needed entertainment as schools were closed until 9 May); and essentials for the church itself e.g. small fold-up tables, book shelves for the children’s room etc. It was done to create a welcoming space for people, in order to feel comfortable and at home, amidst enormous stress. Reserve funds will be transferred to the RCJ to be utilized in the long term for further outreaches, relevant support projects etc. The church across the whole world is making a meaningful, concrete difference in this crisis, which is tremendously encouraging for the local Christians.
  • Three theology students and I helped to prepare and equip the church as a place of support. Offloading and organizing, as well as distribution of essential emergency goods, all formed part of our responsibilities. Two students focused especially on playing creative games with the children that arrived at the church voluntarily.  Another student (that had been a nurse before) did some basic medical check-ups for people on request, at the same time discussing at a deeper level their emotional wellbeing. I shared actively in all the above-mentioned activities, and focused especially on listening to people’s deeper emotional needs. There were many opportunities to do this.
  • Most people to whom I talked had a great need to debrief. Many also repeatedly wanted to share their experiences, to find some sense of de-briefing and meaning-making in all the shock and stress. Themes that surfaced constantly revolved around the enormous disruption that left people anxious and uncertain. Many families are temporarily separated, because e.g. many men / fathers spend the nights at their places of work. (for safety’s sake and to help clear the chaos).
  • Mashiki town was struck the worst, and many people there are living in tents. The army provides only in the most basic of needs, for the people there. One aged gentleman was overwhelmed with joy over the canned foods and sweets for children he had been given, while visiting the church.
  • Although the most urgent needs of most people have been met e.g. sustenance, water and safe refuge, there are many other (less noticeable) needs mentioned in discussions. By endeavouring to listen more intensively to people I could sometimes discern the actual cause of the need and anxiety, and I tried to give them support and to establish ties with local church members (for longer term follow-up care).
  • Rev. Nishibori took essential items to church members that had been isolated by the disaster. He was also involved with other church members whose relatives’ homes had been totally destroyed. His main focus was especially on the church members, whereas our focus was on people who came to the church for the first time for assistance / support / goods. He and his wife were flooded with correspondence with the wider church etc. They still feel somewhat overwhelmed by all the events, and will take a break to rest (away from Kumamoto) early in May.
  • I also had the opportunity to pay a visit to one family from the congregation, and was able to have a long and meaningful pastoral discussion with them.

Victims’ stories

  • One man talked about his struggle to get his three children (and two cats) out of his house in time as they feared that it might collapse. His eldest daughter had psychological problems (panic disorder), and now finds it hard to sleep. As the big earthquake struck at night she is now terrified of the dark.  They keep on all lights and the TV at night, because silence and darkness intensify her anxiety. She doesn’t sleep at night, but she does so in the daytime. She stays indoors all day, has not been outside the house for 10 days, and schools open only in 2 weeks’ time. The stress is sometimes unbearable, her father said. His need to share and to be heard is clear. His own place of work (company building) was situated in one of the hardest hit areas, and collapsed (at night).
  • Another lady (whom I got know here in October last year), came to talk to me a number of times during the week. After the disaster she had learned what it meant to live and to die, she told me, because when she now opened her eyes in the mornings, she was profoundly relieved to find herself still alive. She told me with wide open eyes about the gigantic hole that had suddenly opened up in the parking area surface directly behind their car (because of the earthquake). She and her family were now prepared for any following disaster, emergency kit ready at the front door, blankets in the car in case they might have to spend a night there again.
  • A mother of three infants (used to be a nurse) shared how frustrated and tired she was having slept so little during the previous 10 days. They had actually moved to that area a year before, as they used to live close to the tsunami disaster area (Sendai), and had experienced intense trauma. She had intended to stay at the church only for a few minutes but eventually she – with her 3 daughters – stayed for lunch and talked to us  continuously for hours. A number of times she mentioned that it was wonderful that the church had now in this way become a restful place where one could feel at home in that chaotic time. Her children no longer needed to sit frustrated in front of the TV all day, but could play at the church, and relax in a healthy manner in a safe, friendly environment. Her words touched me deeply, as this had long been my dream for the church in Japan … that it would become more and more of a home for those people that feel increasingly uprooted and displaced in their daily lives. A refuge that is also an open, welcoming place, peaceful, and happy. She also freely asked me about the church and about faith issues,  including the “darkness” in her life.
  • Another group of women talked about teachers, that were also victims themselves, who had to work extremely hard at schools which were used as temporary shelters for thousands of people. A principal suffered from severe emotional ‘burnout’ in the process. Members of the armed forces also worked continuously to bring about emergency relief.  That these conversations occurred at the church is noteworthy. It places the church in the centre of the community, and the community in the centre of the church.
  • Rev. Nishibori shared with us about his own and his family’s trauma of the past few days. On the day of the earthquake a number of strange things had occurred, he recounted. He was extremely tense getting his sermon done (for that Sunday), as a number of unexpected events had occurred, e.g. a long drawn-out involvement with a homeless person, an hour’s crisis phone call etc. Shortly before the earthquake struck he had gone outside the church to put up his theme for that Sunday’s sermon: (“The Signs of the End of the Age” from Mark 13). The earthquake struck shortly afterwards. They had fled for shelter (school grounds) after the second severe quake in the middle of the night. In one corner of the school grounds, water (to everyone’s great shock) had started gushing from the earth. He and his wife, and their six-year-old son had stayed in the shelter for about a week. He witnessed how the Lord had provided people at the right times to support and encourage them. When they had been able to return to their home, and came to their senses, Psalm 46 (especially verses 1-3,10-11) spoke profoundly to him … “Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations.”  The same test I had read and discussed at KRTS on more than one occasion, before we came to Kumamoto.
  • At the prayer meeting which we could share with the students,  Ester, one of the students, shared an encouraging message from 1 Peter 1:3-9. Her and here family’s lives had been severely affected by the huge 1995 earth quake in Kobe, during which their home had been destroyed. Her testimony focused on verses 6-9, from which, she told us, she had learned that no suffering was ever meaningless. Through faith it is purified, and becomes meaningful. Crises such as these actually expose the foundations of our lives and faith!


  • I am most grateful for the opportunity of being part of the outreach, within the first two weeks after the earth quake. This is a time during which needs and circumstances change easily. In these circumstances I think the composition and gifts of our outreach team suited well to a great extent. All of us had been involved in the 2011 Tohoku disaster (Sendai region). It was possible for us to involve ourselves immediately in and be effective within the church’s initiatives.
  • The pastor (Rev. Nishibori) had been here for only two years, and was still developing relationships of trust with church members and residents of the area. A new era has opened for the small congregation. How will the Lord provide in this crisis, and transform this tiny religious community into a hopeful sign of his love and care? We do not know, but we have (again) experienced a small part of the new direction in which the church was hauled into by this disaster.
  • I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be allowed into the very private (holy) places of people’s lives and to hear their stories of fear, powerlessness and despair.
  • We pray that the following outreach projects will in the long term help to create an “openness” of the church for the community. So that people that have never been in a church nor have had any close contact with Christians before, will find it easier to be able to “come inside”. We believe that it presents new, unique opportunities to share the gospel of hope in Jesus Christ.
  • At one stage a group of young boys walked past the church. We invited them to enter, but they were on their way to a game of soccer, and proceeded on their way. The next day they (a group of 15) arrived unexpectedly at the church. Enjoying themselves, they played at the church for a considerable length of time. Not a single person that crosses the entrance of the church, is regarded casually, as a matter of course. It stays exceptional, within the context of the Japanese community, for non-Christians to take a courageous first step into a church. There were especially certain people that came repeatedly during our time there, people with whom the congregation might get involved more deeply. We pray for this.
  • As RCJ Kumamoto is a small congregation (about 20 church members), it is important not to over-stretch the local congregation’s capacity, and to consider responsibly the medium and long term involvement and possibilities.

While I was writing the last words of this report, the building shuddered as a result of another after-shock … the uncertainty is in no way over yet, but the steadfast, living hope of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3) brightens up Kumamoto.

Please pray with us for the next phases of support in the light of the information above.

God’s Peace, and thank you once again for everyone’s support!


from Kumamoto, 27 April 2016



Beste vriend/vriendin,

Die aardbewing rampgebeure skep talle nuwe geleenthede om konkrete nood en behoeftes van mense vanuit die kerk te bedien. In ‘n land met net 1% Christene is die kerk meestal moeilik “sigbaar” in die gemeenskap. Meeste Japannese mense voel ongemaklik, onseker of soms selfs op ‘n manier vyandig teenoor die kerk / Christene.

Maar die getal mense wat in die afgelope 3 dae oor die drempel van RCJ Kumamoto gestap het (terwyl ons hier was), is meer as wat in maande se eredienste hier bymekaar kom. Die verhoudings wat begin bou is, wag om verdiep te word. Die plaaslike gemeentelede het volgehoue gebede, bemoediging en konkrete leiding uit verskeie oorde nodig. Honderde mense het vir die eerste keer ooit met die liggaam van Christus te doen gekry.

Nou – soos in 2011 na die tsoenami in Sendai – het die plaaslike gemeente die kans om meer sigbaar en aktief diensbaar te raak in die gemeenskap. Met behulp van Missie Japan se ondersteuners, in samewerking met die breër RCJ, asook die Kobe Kweekskool, sit ons spesifieke uitreik projekte voort.

Lees hier onder meer … vir volledige terugvoer oor ons eerste uitreik. En sien foto’s.

Luister ook gerus na ‘n onderhoud (met my) hieroor op RSG se Sondagjoernaal, eerskomende Sondag 1 Mei tussen 07:00-08:00.


Huidige situasie (27 April)

  • 8 400 huise is beskadig (meer as in die groot 1995 Kobe-aardbewing)
  • 36 000 mense is tans nog in skuilings (bv. skole)
  • 4 200 tydelike huise se oprigting word tans beplan
  • Meer as 1 000 na-skokke is al beleef, en duur voort
  • Baie mense bly in parkeerplekke, in hulle motors (omdat hulle huis onveilig is).
  • Produkte in winkels word vinnig uitverkoop, veral vars produkte is skaars.

Ons betrokkenheid by ondersteuningswerk (saam met RCJ Kumamoto gemeente)

  • In die omgewing van die gemeente is die fisiese skade gering teenoor sekere ander dele. Maar die emosionele wonde is helder sigbaar, en daarby kon ons vir ‘n kort tydjie betrokke raak. Die weerloosheid van kinders en bejaardes was veral opvallend.
  • Daar was die afgelope drie dae ‘n aanhoudende stroom van mense wat kom na die kerk vir lewensmiddele soos water, kos, gaskannetjies (om kos te maak) ens. Party ma’s kom haal doeke vir kinders, ander blikkieskos. Die middele is verniet beskikbaar gestel deur die ondersteuning van ander RCJ gemeentes. Daar is ook goedere (gratis) afgehaal by ‘n Christelike ondersteuning sentrum wat gestig is vir noodverligting.
  • ‘n Deel van Missie Japan se fondse is bv. gebruik ons span se reiskostes en etes te betaal, asook om speelgoed vir kinders te koop wat by die kerk kom speel (hulle soek afleiding omdat skole gesluit is tot 9 Mei); asook noodsaaklikhede vir die kerk self bv. opslaan tafels, boekrakke vir kinderkamer ens. Dit is gedoen om ‘n vriendelike ruimte te skep vir mense om in tuis te kom t.m.v. groot stres. Die oorskot sal aan die RCJ oorbetaal word om op die langtermyn te gebruik vir verdere uitreik projekte, toepaslike ondersteuningswerk ens. Die kerk regoor die wêreld maak ‘n betekenisvolle, konkrete verskil in hierdie krisis, en dit bemoedig die plaaslike Christene geweldig.
  • Ek het saam met drie kweekskool studente gehelp om kerk in te rig as ‘n plek van ondersteuning. Die aflaai en regpak, en verspreiding van noodmiddele was o.a. deel van ons werk. Twee studente het veral gefokus op kreatiewe spel met kinders wat spontaan by die kerk opgedaag het. ‘n Ander student (wat voorheen ‘n verpleegster was) het ook basiese mediese ondersoek gedoen vir mense wat dit verlang het, en daarmee saam dieper gesprekke gevoer oor hulle emosionele welstand. Ek het aan al die bg. deelgeneem, en veral ook gefokus daarop om aktief te luister na mense se dieper emosionele nood. Daar was vele geleenthede om dit te kon doen. Dankbaar!
  • Die meeste mense met wie ek gesels het, het ‘n groot behoefte gehad om te “de-brief”. Baie van hulle wou herhaardelik vertel wat hulle beleef het, om self sin te maak van die skok en stres. Tema’s wat pal opgeduik het in gesprekke, het gesentreer rondom die geweldige onwrigting, wat mense beangs en onseker laat. Baie families leef nou tydelik apart, bv. omdat baie mans/pa’s by hulle werkplekke slaap (t.w.v. veiligheid en om die chaos te help opklaar).
  • Mashiki gebied is die ergste getref, baie mense woon nou daar in tente. Die weermag bied net baie basiese middele. In dié dae het ‘n ou man daarvandaan gekom, en hy was oorstelp van vreugde om blikkieskos en lekkergoed vir kinders te kon ontvang.
  • Alhoewel die dringendste nood van meeste mense verlig is i.t.v. kos, water en veilige skuiling, is daar vele (minder sigbare) behoeftes wat na vore gekom het in gesprekke. Terwyl ek dieper na mense probeer luister het, kon ek soms hoor waar die eintlike nood en angs lê, en probeer om daarin te ondersteun, asook om ‘n verdere band met die plaaslike lidmate te bewerkstellig (vir langer termyn opvolg sorg).
  • Nishibori het noodsaaklike items geneem na gemeentede wat geïsoleer is deur die ramp. Hy was ook betrokke by ander lidmate wie se familie-lede se huis totaal verwoes is. Sy fokus was veral op die gemeentelede, terwyl ons fokus op die mense was wat vir die eerste keer na die kerk gekom het vir hulp / ondersteuning / middele. Hy en sy vrou is oorval met korrespondensie met wyer kerk ens. Hulle voel nog oorwelidig deur die hele gebeure, en sal volgende week vir 3-4 dae (weg van Kumamoto) gaan rus.
  • Ek het ook die geleentheid gehad om ‘n besoek te doen aan een gesin uit die gemeente, en kon ‘n lang en sinvolle pastorale gesprek met hulle voer.

Slagoffers se verhale

  • Een man het vertel van sy geskarrel om sy drie kinders (en twee katte) betyds by die huis uit te kry omdat hulle beangs was dat dit inmekaar sou tuimel. Sy oudste dogter het sielkundige probleme (panieksteuring), en sukkel nou vreeslik om te slaap. Omdat die groot aardbewing in die nag gebeur het, is sy nou doodbang vir die donker. Hulle hou alle ligte en die TV aan in die dag, want stilte en donker verhoog haar angs. Sy kry nie geslaap in die nag nie, maar wel in die dag. Sy wil nie by die deur uit nie, is al 10 dae in die huis, en skole open eers weer oor 2 weke. Stres is soms onuithoudbaar, vertel die pa. Sy behoefte om te deel, en om gehoor te word, is duidelik. Sy eie werkplek (maatskappy gebou) is geleë in een van die dele wat die swaarste getref is, en het ineengestort (genadiglik in die nag).
  • ‘n Ander vrou (wat ek verlede jaar in Oktober hier leer ken het), het die week ‘n paar keer met my kom gesels. Ná die ramp het sy geleer wat dit beteken om te leef en sterf, vertel sy, want wanneer sy nou in die oggende haar oë oop maak, is sy diep verlig as sy besef sy is nie dood nie. Sy vertel met groot oë van die reuse gat wat ewe skielik in die aarde oop geskeur is net agter hulle motor in die parkeer area. Sy en haar huis is nou slaggereed vir ingeval van ‘n volgende ramp, noodsakkie gereed by voordeur, komberse in kar vir ingeval hulle weer daar moet slaap.
  • ‘n Ma van drie kleuters (voorheen ‘n verpleegster) deel hoe gefrustreerd en moeg sy is nadat sy die afgelope 10 dae baie min geslaap het. Hulle het as gesin juis ‘n jaar gelede hiernatoe getrek, nadat hulle voorheen naby aan die tsoenami rampgebied (Sendai) gewoon het, en deur groot trauma is. Sy het gedink om ‘n paar minute by die kerk te bly, maar uiteindelik het sy en haar 3 dogters saam met ons middagete geëet en vele ure onophoudelik gesels. Sy het ‘n paar genoem hoe wonderlik dit is dat die kerk nou op die manier ‘n plekkie kon word waar sy kon tuiskom te midde van ‘n chaotiese tyd. Haar kinders hoef nou nie meer heeldag gefrustreerd voor die TV te sit nie, maar kan by die kerk rustig speel, en op ‘n gesonde manier ontlaai in ‘n veilige, gasvye omgewing. Haar woorde raak my diep, want so droom ek lankal oor die kerk in Japan … dat dit meer en meer ‘n tuiste sal word vir dié wat ontwortel en ontheem voel in hulle daaglikse lewe. ‘n Oop, verwelkomende ruimte vol geborgenheid, vrede en vreugde. Sy het my ook vrymoediglik uitgevra oor kerk en geloof, en oor die “donker” in haar eie lewe.
  • ‘n Ander groep vroue gesels oor onderwysers wat self ook slagoffers is, en baie hard moet werk by skole wat tydelike skuilings vir duisende mense moes word. ‘n Skoolhoof het emosioneel feitlik uitgebrand in die proses. Weermaglede werk ook onverpoos om nood-verligting te bewerkstellig. Dat hierdie gesprekke gebeur by kerk is noemenswaardig. Dit plaas die kerk in die middel van die gemeenskap, en bring die gemeenskap se nood midde-in die kerk.
  • Nishibori het met groot erns vertel van sy eie en hulle as gesin se trauma van die afgelope dae. Op die dag van die aardbewing het ‘n paar vreemde goed gebeur, vertel hy. Hy was baie gespanne om sy preek (vir die Sondag) gedoen te kry, want ‘n klomp onvoorsiene goed het gebeur, o.a. ‘n lang, ingewikkelde betrokkenheid by ‘n boemelaar, ‘n uur-lange krisis telefoon-oproep ens. Kort voor die aardbewing gebeur het hy sy preek te tema (“Oor die tekens van die eindtye” uit Markus 13) buite te kerk gaan opsit. En juis tóé tref die aardbewing kort daarna. Hulle het in die middel van die nag gevlug na skuiling (skoolgronde), na die tweede groot skudding. In een hoek van die gronde het water (tot almal se groot skok) begin uitspuit uit die aarde. Hy en sy vrou, en hulle ses-jarige seun het vir ongeveer ‘n week in die skuiling gebly. Hy het getuig hoe die Here het regte mense voorsien het om hulle op die regte tyd te ondersteun en bemoedig.Toe hulle uiteindelik kon terugkeer na hulle huis, en tot verhaal kom, het Psalm 46 (veral verse 1-3,10-11) diep tot hom gespreek … “Bedaar en erken dat ek God is, hoog bo die aarde, hoog bo die nasies.” Dieselfde gedeelte het ek ook by meer as een geleentheid gelees en bespreek by die kweekskool, voor ons koms na Kumamoto.
  • By die biduur wat ons saam met die gemeente kon deel het Ester, een van die kweekskool studente, ‘n bemoedigende boodskap/getuienis gedeel, 1 petrus 1:3-9. Haar eie lewe is diep geraak deur die reuse 1995 aardbewing in Kobe, waarin hulle huis vernietig is. Haar getuienis het gefokus op verse 6-9, waaruit, vertel sy, ons leer dat geen lyding is nie betekenisloos nie. Deur geloof word dit gesuiwer, en kry dit betekenis. Krisisse soos hierdie lê inderdaad ons lewens- en geloofsfondamente bloot!


  • Ek is baie dankbaar vir die geleentheid om te kon uitreik binne die eerste twee weke na die aardbewing. Dit is ‘n baie vloeibare tyd, waarin die behoeftes en omstandighede vinnig verander. In hierdie omstandighede, dink ek, het ons uitreikspan se samestelling en gawes tot ‘n groot mate baie goed gepas. Almal van ons was betrokke by die 2011 Tohoku rampgebeure (Sendai omgewing). Dit was onmiddelik vir ons moontlik om in te skakel en toepaslik betrokke te raak by die kerk se inisiatiewe.
  • Die predikant, ds. Nishibori is nog net twee jaar hier, en bou dus nog aan vertrouens- verhoudinge met lidmate en mense in die omgewing. ‘n Nuwe era word oopgebreek vir die klein gemeentetjie. Hoe sal die Here in die krisis voorsien, en die klein geloofsgemeenskap in ‘n hoopvolle teken van sy liefde en sorg omskep? Ons weet nie presies nie. Maar ons het wel (weer) iets ervaar van die nuwe wending waarin die kerk geslinger is deur hierdie ramp.
  • Ek was opnuut bewus van die groot voorreg om ingelaat te word in baie private (heilige) spasies van mense se lewens en verhale van vrees, magteloosheid en wanhoop aan te hoor.
  • Oor opvolg-projekte: die tweede groep studente van die kweekskool sal 9-13 Mei uitreik. Ds. Nishibori (predikant by RCJ Kumamoto) het ook versoek dat Tobie (ds.) en Annalie de Wet die gemeente en gemeenskap kom bedien van 22-25 Mei (as deel van Missie Japan se werk hier).
  • Ons bid dat hierdie uitreik projekte op die langtermyn sal help om die gemeenskap “oop te maak” vir die kerk, én die kerk vir die gemeenskap. Sodat mense wat nog in ‘n kerk was en nog nooit met Christene van nader kon kontak maak nie, nou makliker kan “in kom”. Ons glo dit bring nuwe, unieke geleenthede na vore om die hoopvolle evangelie van Christus te kan deel.
  • Opvolgwerk in die kerk se nabye omgewing is volgende op die agenda. Veral om by mense aan huis te gaan aanklop om te hoor watter behoeftes daar is, en hoe daar ondersteun kan word.
  • Op ‘n stadium het ‘n groep jong seuns verby die kerk gestap. Ons het hulle ingenooi, maar hulle was oppad om te gaan sokker speel, en het verbygehou. Die volgende dag daag hulle (groep van 15) toe onverwags by die kerk op. Hulle het lank en lekker by die kerk gespeel. Nie een persoon wat oor die kerk se drempel stap is vanselfsprekend nie. Dis uitsonderlik binne die konteks van Japan. Daar is veral sekere mense wat herhaaldelik in die drie dae gekom het, en met wie die gemeente ‘n verdere pad kan stap. Ons bid daarvoor.
  • Omdat RCJ Kumamoto gemeente klein is (ongeveer 20 lidmate), is dit belangrik om nie die plaaslike gemeente se kapasiteit te oorskry nie, en verantwoordelik te dink oor medium en langtermyn betrokkenheid en moontlikhede. Die De Wets se besoek is in daardie opsig baie tydig (later in Mei) en nodig.

Terwyl ek die verslag se laaste woorde neerskryf, ruk die kerkgebou van nog ‘n na-skok … die onsekerheid is geensins verby nie, maar die onwrikbare, lewende hoop van Christus (1 Petrus 1:3) het verhelder in Kumamoto.

Bid asb. saam met ons vir die volgende fases van ondersteuning, in die lig van die bg. inligting.

Vrede, en weereens dankie vir elkeen se ondersteuning!


uit Kumamoto, 27 April 2016












Kumamoto uitreik / outreach – 25-29 April 2016

Kumamoto uitstuur


Beste vriend/vriendin,

Onwrigting. Onsekerheid. Angs. Verlies. Die lys is lank … Kumamoto aardbewing se invloed kring dieper en wyer uit. 

Die nuutste feite is:

  • 67 000 in mense kan nie terugkeer na hulle huise nie, is in tydelike skuilings.
  • Siektes soos diarreë en griep versprei vinnig.
  • Nabygeleë aktiewe vulkaan (Aso) kan dalk uitbars.
  • Radioaktiewe vlakke is 2-3 keer hoër as gewoonlik (oorsaak onseker).
  • Naby geleë kernkrag sentrales wek kommer.
  • 837 naskokke hoër as 1 op die rigterskaal is reeds beleef, duur voort.
  • Gevare van verdere modderstortings (reën woord vir die heel week voorspel).

Twee uitreik projekte geloods
Missie Japan, en ons as gestuurdes van RCJ Shikoku Ring, is saam met die Kobe Kweekskool (www.krts.net ) direk betrokke by die ramp.

Die kweekskool se dekaan, Prof. Takashi Yoshida, is steeds aktief betrokke by die Sendai tsunami rampgebeure van 2011 (waar hy gewoon en gewerk het tot 2014). Hy het dadelik aangebied dat studente vrygestel word om hierdie keer ondersteuningswerk in die Kumamoto rampgebied te gaan doen. Want, soos hy Vrydag tydens ons uitstuur-geleentheid beklemtoon het uit Jakobus 2:17, “as geloof nie tot dade oorgaan nie, is dit dood”. (sien foto hierbo)

Die ondersteuning sal gebeur d.m.v. twee uitreikgroepe. Ek sal die eerste groep neem – saam met drie ander teologiese studente – vanaf Maandag tot Vrydag, 25-29 April. Die tweede groep sal 9-13 Mei uitreik.

Missie Japan het reeds ʼn ruim bedrag hiervoor bewillig. Dit is in die geloof gedoen dat die Here die nodige middele sal voorsien. Ons nooi graag gemeentes/individue uit om bydraes te maak. 

Die rekening besonderhede is soos volg: 
Bank: ABSA
Naam: Missie Japan
Nommer: 4049690248
Onthou asb. om jou naam en die verwysing ‘KyushuRamp’ by te voeg

Bid asb. saam vir:

  • Die Kumamoto rampgebied se slagoffers wat diep verlies en lyding moet verwerk. Vir God se genade en troos.
  • Interkerklike netwerk se veelvuldige uitreike in die rampgebied. Vir ‘n helder getuienis van Christus se liefde en hoop te midde van pyn en swaar.
  • Ons veiligheid op die pad (ongeveer 10 ure se ry vanaf Kobe) – ons vertrek 03:00 Maandag oggend.
  • Emosionele en fisiese energie om aktief te kan luister, en allerlei ondersteuningswerk te doen.
  • Wysheid om te onderskei waarop om te fokus in ons betrokkenheid, en vir ontvanklikheid van die ramp geteisterdes.
  • Om die dieper behoeftes van slagoffers te identifiseer, veral dié wat geïsoleer is, bv. bejaardes.
  • Finansiële bydraes om hierdie uitreike se befondsing te dek.

Baie dankie dat ons op jou ondersteuning kan staatmaak!




Dear friend in Christ,

Disruption. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Loss. The list goes on … Kumamoto earthquake’s influence is deepening and widening.

The latest facts are:

  • 67 000 people cannot return to their homes, wait in temporary shelters.
  • Diseases like diarrhoea and flu are spreading quickly.
  • A volcano (mount Aso) nearby might erupt.
  • Radio-active levels are 2-3 times higher than usual (cause unknown).
  • Closely located nuclear power plants are cause for concern.
  • 837 aftershocks (higher than 1 on the richter scale) have been felt, and continues.
  • Dangers of more mudslides (rain is predicted for the whole week).

Two outreach projects launched
Mission Japan, and we who are sent by RCJ Shikoku Presbytery, are directly involved with the disaster, in co-operation with the Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary – www.krts.net

The seminary dean, Prof. Takashi Yoshida, is still actively involved with 2011’s Sendai tsunami disaster events (where he lived and worked until 2014). He immediately suggested that some students should be available to do support work in the Kumamoto disaster area this time. Because, as he emphasised during our dispatching ceremony on Friday from James 2:17, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”.

The support will happen via two outreach groups. I will lead the first group (with three other theological students) from Monday to Friday, April 25-29. The second group will reach out between May 9-13.

Mission Japan has already committed to a substantial amount of financial support to help materialise this – trusting that the Lord will keep on providing the means. We cordially invite individuals / churches / cell groups to contribute in order to support this significant initiative.

The bank account details are as follows: 
Bank: ABSA
Name: Missie Japan
Number: 4049690248
Please remember to add your name, as well as the words ‘KyushuRamp’, as reference.
Credit card contributions can also be made directly via the internet from https://www.givengain.com/cause/3965/ 

Please pray with us for:

  • Kumamoto disaster area’s victims who have to deal with deep losses and suffering. For God’s grace and comfort.
  • Ecumenical network of churches’ multiple outreaches in the area. For a clear witness to Christ’s love and hope amidst pain and despair.
  • Our safety on the road (about 10 hours’ drive from Kobe) – we depart 3h00 tomorrow morning.
  • Emotional and physical energy to be able to listen actively, and get involved with various forms of relevant support work.
  • Wisdom to discern on what to focus on in our involvement, and for receptive hearts of disaster victims.
  • To be able to identify deeper, underlying needs of victims, especially those who are isolated, e.g. the elderly.
  • Financial contributions to cover the commitments that have been made in advance.

Thank you very much that we can depend on your support and prayers!

God’s peace,


Rampflits: Aardbewing / Disaster-newsflash: Earthquake – 14 April 2016

Foto’s van aardbewing met erkenning aan www.cnn.com 


Beste ondersteuner,

‘n Paar dae gelede – soos jy seker reeds bewus is – het twee baie sterk aardbewings die Suid-Weste van Japan geruk. Intussen het meer as 500 skuddings voortdurend die inwoners van Kumamoto omgewing (op Kyushu eiland) in angs en onsekerheid gedompel. En die nood verdiep. Meer as 1000 huise is totaal verwoes, en meer as 4000 beskadig.

Die dood van 42 mense is al bevestig, en heelwat vermiste persone word nog gesoek. Meer as 100 000 slagoffers het gevlug na tydelike skuilings. Dáár sukkel hulle om iewers ‘n stukkie ontvlugting en rus te vind. Maar allerlei ontwrigtings maak dit uiters moeilik. Rommelhope vorm orals en gesondheidsrisiko’s ontwikkel plek-plek. Baie mense slaap in hulle motors of tente, terwyl kos en water nog op talle plekke skort.

Die meeste treinritte kan nog nie hervat word nie, lughawens is gesluit, en baie paaie is onbegaanbaar verskeur, en dit maak toegang tot en voorsiening van nooddienste in sekere dele moeilik. Deskundiges vermaan almal om hoogs waaksaam te wees. Minstens twee aktiewe (ondergrondse) foutlyne is versteur, en die waarskynlikheid van nog skuddings oor ‘n wyer area is hoog.

Hoe kan ons betrokke raak? Ons woon (padlangs) amper 700km van die rampgebied, en is nie direk geraak i.t.v. skade nie. Maar ons harte en gedagtes is diep geraak (soos in Maart 2011) deur hierdie skokkende gebeure. Ons bid gereeld, en is ook in direkte kontak met ‘n predikante kollega (Ds. Hajime Nishibori) van RCJ Kumamoto (wat ek in Oktober 2015 besoek het).

RCJ Kumamoto se kerkgebou is beskadig. Ds. Nishibori en ‘n klein groepie lidmate het Sondag in die kerk se parkeer-area ‘n erediens gehou. Hy en sy gesin het die vorige aande in hulle motor geslaap, en is tans in ‘n plaaslike skuiling (skoolgebou).
Een van die lidmate se huis is platgevee deur die aardbewing, maar almal is genadiglik veilig.

Die RCJ (Gereformeerde Kerk in Japan), saam met wie ons in diens van Missie Japan hier werk, is besig met indringende gesprekke en ‘n ondersoek om die nood en behoeftes van die gemeente en omgewing te bepaal. Ons wag op hulle verslag wat DV sal kan inhoud gee aan ‘n uitreik aan die rampgebied. Die Kobe kweekskool (www.krts.net) waar ek klasgee, oorweeg om vir ‘n week te sluit sodat ‘n groep studente DV as vrywilligers ontbied kan word om te ondersteun waar nodig.

Ons vra jou om ook asb. in te tree vir ons Japannese broers en susters wat deur hierdie ramp getref is. Bid asb. vir die uitreik van die RCJ (wat ons insluit) wat nou beplan word. Vir wysheid en beskerming van vele ander kerke wat ook nou aan die uitreik is. Dat die Here in hierdie krisis tóg Sy hoop en genade sal laat duidelik word. Bid asb. ook vir Missie Japan se leiers wat hieroor biddend besin, in vennootskap met die plaaslike RCJ (wat die kweekskool insluit).

Vrede in Christus, ons Hoof en Here,

Stéphan en Carina,
(ook namens Carina se ouers, Tobie en Annalie de Wet, wat destyds jare lank in RCJ Kumamoto bedien het, en tans by ons is op besoek).




Dear supporter,

A few days ago – as you are probably aware already – two powerful earth quakes shook South-Western Japan. Meanwhile more than 500 tremors have caused the inhabitants of Kumamoto region (on Kyushu Island) a great deal of fear and anxiety. And the needs are deepening. More than 1000 homes were totally destroyed, and more than 4000 were damaged.

42 fatalities have already been confirmed, and several missing persons are still being searched for. More than 100 000 victims fled to temporary shelters. There they battle to escape from the trauma and find some rest. But all kinds of disruptions make it extremely difficult. Heaps of rubble are accumulating everywhere and health risks develop sporadically. Many people are spending the nights in their cars or tents, while food and water are still in short supply in many places.

Most trains have not yet started running, air ports have closed down, and many roads have been torn apart, making them impassable. All of these factors hamper access to and provision of emergency services in many parts of the disaster-stricken area. Experts have warned everybody to maintain a high level of alertness. At least two active (underground) fault lines have been disturbed, and the likelihood of more earthquakes over a larger area, is high.

How can we become involved? Measured by road we live almost 700km from the disaster area, and have not been directly affected, in terms of damage. But our hearts and thoughts have been deeply touched (as in March 2011) by these shocking events. We pray regularly, and are also in direct contact with a minister and colleague (Rev. Hajime Nishibori) from RCJ Kumamoto (whom I paid a visit in October 2015).

RCJ Kumamoto’s church building was damaged. Rev. Nishibori and a small group of church members held their worship service in the church parking lot on Sunday. His family and he had spent the previous nights in their car and are at present in a local shelter (school building).
One of the church members’ home was destroyed by the earth quake, but all are thankfully safe.

The RCJ (Reformed Church in Japan), our partners along with Mission Japan, is busy with in-depth consultations and an investigation to determine the needs of the congregation and vicinity. We are waiting for their report which, God willing, will provide details to a planned outreach to the disaster area. The Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary  (www.krts.net) where I lecture, is considering closing down for a week so that some students might, be sent as volunteers to render support wherever it may be needed.

We request you too to intercede in prayer for our Japanese brothers and sisters who have been struck by this disaster. Please pray for the outreach which the RCJ (which includes us) is now planning. Also for wisdom and protection of many other churches that are already busy with outreaches, that the living Lord will still clearly reveal his grace and hope in this crisis. Please pray also for the leaders of Mission Japan who are prayerfully considering their involvement, in partnership with the local RCJ (which includes the seminary).

God’s Peace in Christ, our Lord.

Stéphan and Carina,
(also on behalf of Carina’s parents, Tobie and Annalie de Wet, who had ministered in RCJ Kumamoto for many years, and are at present paying us a visit).

Inhuldiging by KRTS / Inauguration at KRTS – 8 April 2016

Inhuldiging seremonie by Kobe Gereformeerde Teologiese Kweekskool (http://krts.net ) as voltydse dosent in Pastorale Teologie en Sorg (ingesluit professorale intreerede in Japannees). Diep dankbaar vir die groot geleentheid, en opgewonde oor die pad vorentoe. Loof die Here!

神戸改革派神学校 (http://krts.net ) 教授就任記念講演・並びに第3学期開講講演。同時に入学式が行いました。感謝と喜びに溢れている一時となりました。皆様、どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。神様に賛美しましょう!

Inauguration ceremony at Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary (http://krts.net ), as full-time lecturer in Pastoral Theology and Care (including inaugural address as professor, in Japanese). Deeply grateful for this huge opportunity, and excited about the road ahead. Praise the Lord!

Nuusflits / Newsflash (Januarie / January 2016)


Vir Januarie 2016 se Afrikaanse Nuusflits, kliek hier

For January 2016’s English Newsflash, click here


Official news: Karen Strydom (January 2016)

Karen Strydom

Karen Strydom


20 January 2016

Dear supporters of Mission Japan


It is with sadness that we announce that Mission Japan will not send Karen Strydom as missionary to the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ ) anymore.

We were hopeful of sending her out soon. She has been employed by Mission Japan and for the last couple of months she raised funds with several congregations, groups and individuals. Everywhere she told the story of her calling to Japan with conviction. We shared in her calling and contributed much in preparing her for going to Japan.

However, since November 2015 it emerged that she has theological convictions that are contrary to our Reformed confession. For instance, she specifically rejects infant baptism, and she objects to the practice of the confirmation of faith of young people. In light of the specific work she would be doing in the RCJ (as youth worker), the RCJ’s own rather strong Reformed identity and our two churches’ long relationship of mutual respect, and after many discussions, we as Mission Japan and the RCJ, together with Karen, realised that it would now not be wise to continue the process of sending her to Japan. We are of the opinion that it will also not be in Karen’s own best interest to become intimately part of a church in which she would not really feel at home. To us, this is a sad disappointment! We can imagine that it will also be a great disappointment to all of you who enthusiastically shared in her calling and started to support her. We are keeping contact with Karen and pray that soon other opportunities for her to go to Japan will arise. We assist her where possible.

Mission Japan employed Karen for several months. We have had financial expenses in terms of her salary, visiting congregations, etc. Contributions for Karen’s going to Japan helped to carry these costs. We can think that some congregations or individuals might be so upset with these developments that they would rather want their money back. Please let us know and we will send your money back to you.

We would like to assure you of the sensitive and responsible way in which Mission Japan’s management tried to handle the matter. Decisions have been taken with compassion.

Once again we would like to thank all Mission Japan’s supporters. We want to continue with the work in japan, in close partnership with our sister church, the RCJ. We are grateful for the wonderful work our missionaries have always been doing and are doing in Japan. We appreciate the warm relationships between Mission Japan and the RCJ and hope to continue strengthening the ties. In this we request your continued support and prayers. We are convinced that the Lord, in whose service we are and who’s love is compelling us, will guide us along the way.

May the Lord have mercy on us.

Gideon van der Watt




20 Januarie 2016

Liewe Missie Japan ondersteuners,


Dit is vir ons hartseer om bekend te maak dat Karen Strydom nie meer deur Missie Japan as Jeugwerker na die Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ) uitgestuur word nie.

Ons was vol hoop dat ons Karen sou kon uitstuur. Sy is reeds in diens van Missie Japan geneem en het die laaste maande ondersteuning in gemeentes en by groepe en individue gewerf. Oral het sy haar roepingsverhaal met oortuiging vertel. Ons het in haar roeping na Japan gedeel en veel bygedra tot haar voorbereiding.

Sedert November 2015 het dit egter duidelik geword dat Karen teologiese oortuigings huldig wat indruis teen ons Gereformeerde belydenis. Sy is duidelik gekant teen die doop van kinders en sy het besware teen die praktyk van belydenisaflegging. In die lig van die spesifieke werk (as jeugwerker) wat sy in die RCJ sou gaan doen, die RCJ se eie sterk Gereformeerde identiteit en die jarelange verhoudinge van wedersydse respek tussen ons twee kerke, het ons as Missie Japan, die RCJ en Karen na vele gesprekke saam tot die besef gekom dat dit nou die beste is om nie voort te gaan om haar na die RCJ te stuur nie. Ons oordeel dat dit uiteindelik ook in Karen se belang is om nie intiem deel van ʼn kerk te word waarin sy teologies nie sou kon tuiskom nie. Dis vir ons almal ʼn reuse teleurstelling! En ons kan dink dat dit vir almal wat met entoesiasme in haar roeping gedeel en haar begin ondersteun het, net so ʼn groot teleurstelling is. Ons bly egter in kontak met Karen en bid dat daar moontlik ander deure na Japan vir haar sal oopgaan. Ons help waar ons kan.

Missie Japan het Karen vir ʼn aantal maande in diens geneem. Ons het heelwat uitgawes gehad vir haar lewensonderhoud en om haar by gemeentes uit te kry. Bydraes wat reeds gemaak is vir Karen se uitstuur na Japan, het hierdie koste help dra. Ons kan egter dink dat daar gemeentes of individue is wat dalk so ontstel is deur hierdie verwikkelinge, dat hulle graag hulle geld sou wou terug ontvang. Laat weet ons asseblief, dan stuur ons dit aan u terug.

Ons wil u verseker van die sensitiewe en verantwoordelike wyse waarop Missie Japan se bestuur die aangeleentheid probeer hanteer het. Hierdie besluite is met groot deernis geneem.

Ons sê opnuut dankie aan al Missie Japan se ondersteuners. Ons wil graag met die werk in Japan aangaan, in noue vennootskap met ons susterkerk, die RCJ. Ons is dankbaar vir die mooi werk wat ons sendelinge nog altyd daar gedoen het en steeds doen. Ons is dankbaar oor die mooi verhoudinge wat daar tussen Missie Japan en die RCJ bestaan en wat steeds op verskillende maniere uitgebou word. Hierin vra ons u voortgesette ondersteuning en veral voorbidding. Ons glo dat die Here in wie se diens ons staan, en deur wie se liefde ons gedring word, met ons die pad sal bly loop.

Mag die Here ons genadig wees.

Gideon van der Watt