Iwate Relief Project

The OMF Japan Field Council has approved the creation of the Iwate Relief Project. Under this Project, OMF Japan will work with local churches in one or more coastal cities in Iwate Prefecture to provide relief and recovery assistance to those in the area affected by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. The Project will be for approximately two years.
The main priorities of the Project are:

  • to show God’s love to the community;
  • to support local churches in their relief and evangelistic outreach; and
  • to build trust relationships with local churches and local people.

The Project will initially be based in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture where we anticipate cooperating at the beginning with the Miyako Community Church. OMF will also be working in partnership with the 3.11 Iwate Church Network and other relief agencies active in Iwate. OMF expects to maintain a presence in the city of Miyako for the duration of the project. This will be in the form of OMF members residing there and establishing a base for volunteers. As the ministry expands geographically to other areas additional staff members will reside outside of Miyako. Teams of OMF members and other volunteers will also travel to Miyako to provide short-term assistance to the work. Japanese staff will be hired to assist with the work.

The relief work under the Project will take many different forms. In addition to initially helping with clean-up and/or construction as needed, it is anticipated that Project ministries will include the visitation of evacuation centers and temporary housing facilities, distribution of supplies, counseling, child care, cooking and simple companionship.
Ideally, direct evangelistic events and other similar activities will be initiated by local churches or in cooperation with them as the nature of the ministry changes. While the relief work is going on, OMF will continue to assess the situation to see whether further involvement beyond the two-year mark would be warranted and what type of work would be appropriate.

Mike & Rowena McGinty, formerly serving as OMF Japan’s Hokkaido Regional Director, have been asked to serve as the Project Manager. The team may also comprise other OMF members serving in Japan and/or OMF short-term workers. In addition to this members of the Project will be working closely with people from other churches, mission organizations and relief agencies as appropriate.

Operating costs for the Project will be met by the Sendai Earthquake Relief Fund project. Living and other personal costs for OMF members on the team will be met from each member’s individual support. It is expected that short-term workers who join the team will come with their own support.

Hidetaka and Sanae Honma were added to the staff in October and are serving in the role of Project Coordinators. From April 2012, Pastor Kazuyoshi Takahashi and his wife Yoshie will join the staff and will direct IRP relief efforts centered in the city of Kamaishi. While the McGintys and Honmas continue to reside in Miyako, the ministry focus is increasingly shifting further south to the town of Yamada. A base involving a temporary building to enhance ministry potential will be set up in the spring of 2012 requiring the recruitment of additional staff. This building will be called いっぽいっぽ・山田 “Ippo Ippo (Step by Step) Yamada”. It is anticipated that another ministry base will be established in Kamaishi as well this year and it will be called “Ippo Ippo Kamaishi”.