Japan Mission Story

Japan Mission 1995

I decided to take a break from college and attend a Christian bible school for six months called Youth With A Mission (YWAM).  While in school, we heard the alarming news that Kobe, Japan had a 7.2 earthquake that shook 20 seconds. During those brief 20 seconds, approximately 6,400 people lost their lives.  The people we worked beside in Japan said it kept shaking over a minute and a half.  Kobe, was the closest to the epicenter and hit by the strongest tremors. Those who survived most likely didn’t have a home anymore. The Red Cross sent emergency messages asking for aid, shelter, food and volunteers.  My class eagerly volunteered, each paying their own expense.  We began Japanese language classes immediately.  We had two weeks to prepare for one of the most impacting times of my life. Then, we flew to Japan for three months.

I had never been in total devastation before.  No food, no showers, no drinking water.  Places were still on fire, the freeways collapsed, shopping malls and businesses collapsed, and the little home with paper screens for walls, collapsed with their occupants inside.  Peoples personal belongings were scattered in a mound of rubble along the streets.  The air was thick with toxic smoke and debris.  We wore masks daily.  After shocks continued for months, 74 of them were felt.  We felt many while we were there.

We worked for the Red Cross and had different jobs.  Some were to build tents out of blue tarps, clean debris, or serve food to the thousands homeless.  My job was to work in the “Tent City” inside the soup kitchen cooking for thousands.  I’m really good at making Miso soup and rice now! In the evenings, those of us who loved music, would sing and perform for those living in tarp tents.  We tried to bring some solace in the midst of destruction.

Red Cross set up in the only building left in the middle of the city…a four story white church!  Buildings on all sides collapsed.  Fire raged through those buildings.  But, the fire didn’t touch the walls of the white church!  Time Magazine flew over and took a picture of this miracle.  We slept up above on the fourth floor, and served food to long lines of people on the first floor.  Church services went from a few attending to 5 services immediately.  People wanted to serve the God of the building that withstood the earthquake.  We saw many visible, unbelieveable miracles. God was present.  It was one of the most impactful times of my life, and Japan will always have a place near to my heart.


Youth With A Mission is an international volunteer movement of Christians from many backgrounds, cultures and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world. Also known as YWAM (pronounced “WHY-wham”), our purpose is simply to know God and to make Him known.