March 25-31. 2013
General Assembly News
UCCJ Moderator visits Taiwan to mark 2nd anniversary of the 311 Earthquake
Reported by Lin Yi-ying
Written by Lydia Ma
PCT General Assembly Moderator Pusin Tali travelled to Tokyo on March 11, 2013 to mark the second anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Pusin Tali was invited by the United Church of Christ Japan (UCCJ) to preach a sermon and deliver greetings on behalf of the PCT during the service. As a gesture of reciprocity, on March 24, UCCJ Moderator Isibasi Hideo travelled to Taiwan to preach at a service held at Mackay Memorial Hospital’s auditorium to remember the second anniversary of the earthquake. Isibasi’s sermon was based on the passages found in Matthew 27:61 and 28:5-8, which he entitled “Oh! Look!”
Isibasi’s sermon began with a simple greeting in Taiwanese and he was accompanied by his translator, Rev. Divan Suqluman, a PCT missionary in Hokkaido. Isibasi made a point to thank the PCT for its financial support and for sending more than 100 volunteers to Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake. He added that PCT’s efforts, whether in financial donations or volunteer assistance, would be remembered in the annals of history.
Isibasi also thanked the PCT for sending Suqluman to help the UCCJ and praised the latter’s ministry among the Ainu indigenous people in Japan. Suqluman has ministered at various churches in Hokkaido in the past few years that don’t have pastors. His main responsibilities include preaching Sunday sermons and reaching out to parishioners.
Speaking on the spiritual landscape in Japan, Isibasi said that many Japanese questioned the existence of God in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami because they couldn’t comprehend why God would allow such a big tragedy. Isibasi said that he toured the hardest-hit area of Sendai shortly after the tsunami and saw many houses washed away. The tsunami was so strong that it even ripped the foundations away. He was so overcome by the sight that he couldn’t eat afterward. He added that many Sendai residents have told him that they never want to return to that place of sorrow.
While giving an overview of the UCCJ’s ministry, Isibasi said that his office continues to observe a time of prayer on the 11th of every month at 14:46 as UCCJ staff pray for rebuilding efforts. He added that there are currently volunteers from Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, USA, and Hong Kong helping the UCCJ in rebuilding efforts in Sendai. Now, 2 years after the earthquake, the area is no longer a place of sorrow, but a place blessed by God. Many local residents have been touched by the love of God in the process.
PCT Church and Society Committee member Cheng Ying-er shared about his experiences as a volunteer to Emmaus Center in Sendai during one of PCT’s volunteering missions. Following his presentation, there was a time of prayer and offering to support ministries spearheaded by this Emmaus. “When others suffered, we heard your call and we realized our responsibility,” prayed Rev. Hkaw from East Amis Presbytery. “We are not alone in times of suffering because God is with us. Japan and Taiwan will stand in solidarity, pray together, and help each other. Our love for one another will help us to regain faith and confidence and renew our hope for the future.”