The week of July 20-27, 2013 was a week when Patsy Davis, Executive Director of the BWA Women’s Department, had the opportunity to visit the Japan Baptist Women’s Union (JBWU) of the Japan Baptist Convention, and the Japan Baptist Women (JBW) of the Japan Baptist Union. The two organizations are dedicated to meeting the needs of women in Japan, as well as impacting their world for Christ.
Chiyo Murakami, JBWU director, Claudia Sherer, translator, and Patsy attended the Oi Baptist Church in Tokyo on Sunday, July 21. Pastor Katoh gave Patsy an opportunity to greet the congregation on behalf of the BWA.
On Monday, July 22 Chiyo, Claudia and Patsy began their journey north to visit the tsunami area. It was a quick trip from Tokyo to Koriyama by the bullet train, but from Koriyama to Tohno it took seven hours by car. Tohno is where the Japan Baptist Convention volunteer center is located. This was home base for two nights.
Chikayo Kaneko is the field staff person for the Japan Baptist Convention, and the volunteer center is the staging place for her work with those affected by the tsunami. The first volunteers worked hard in removing the rubble that was left. A little over two years since the tsunami one can see what is called “rubble mountains” that were formed. Volunteers over the past few years have helped with clean up, feeding the hungry, meeting physical, as well as psychological needs through music, games, and touch.
Two temporary housing areas were visited by the team led by Chikayo. At both places afternoon tea was served, vegetable bingo was played, special exercises were done, and the ladies practice a song to be sung at a concert on August 9. A young woman who is 30 and has a child that is 3 developed a special friendship with Patsy even though Patsy did not speak Japanese. As the team was leaving the young woman came up to Patsy and gave her a big hug. For a few moments this young woman left all her problems, fears, and doubts behind to receive the Christian love that was being shared by the team.
On the return trip to Tokyo the team visited another temporary housing built for those affected by the nuclear disaster. The team members gave out pamphlets inviting the people to the next meeting with Chikayo. Chikayo likes cats, and one of the families in the temporary housing has a big beautiful cat, and Chikayo wanted Patsy to see it which opened the door for a visit with the family.
Urawa is a suburb of Tokyo, and that is where the Japan Baptist Convention Headquarters is located. Thursday was spent getting to know the staff of the convention, as well as the president of the JBWU, Junko Hirukawa.
Friday was spent with the JBW at their headquarters. Taeko Kambe, JBW director, introduced the women, and shared some of their history and ministries. After lunch Patsy was taken to Yokohama where the first Baptist church in Japan was begun. Roberta Stephens, missionary, was Patsy’s translator, and wonderful historian. Friday evening there was a dinner in Chinatown for some of the leaders and Patsy. It was a time of fellowship and sharing about what God is doing in the lives of Baptist women in the JBW organization.