About the Disaster and its damage
On March, 11 2013, a magnitude 9 earthquake occurred in the North West Pacific. It was the strongest magnitude ever recorded in Japan. As a result, the northeast coast of Japan was hit by a tsunami, recording a maximum of 131 feet (40 meters) high. Approximately 20,000 people were killed or reported missing. Deaths related to the disaster (such as suicides) are said to be around 2,500. Over 280,000 people evacuated or moved from the coastal region (numbers as of October 2013).
Within the unreached country of Japan, North-East Japan is the least reached region. It seemed that the situation in North-East Japan was getting even dimmer, if such was possible. Nevertheless it became evident that God was using this opportunity to break through the walls of North-East Japan.
Our Response – Becoming an “Oasis” for the needy
The earthquake in 2011 damaged much of Rifu’s public service, one of them being the water system. While most of the town lost access to water, Camp Morigo was a rare place that had it through a groundwater pump. The church opened up the campsite to the local public, as well as distributed water to the people living up in the hills.
From 10 days after the disaster, Christian disaster relief organizations (CRASH Japan and Samaritan’s Purse) started to used Camp Morigo as their base camp. The campsite served as a warehouse, receiving, storing and distributing literally tons and tons of goods such as toiletries, water, shoes, clothes, food etc. Christian volunteers around the world spent nights on the campsite while they went out the coastal areas for relief work during the day. The rich natural environment of Camp Morigo provided much needed peace for the volunteers that worked under harsh conditions near the coast. We believe that it was God’s will that more than 15,000 volunteers were sent out to the disaster area from the campsite and showed us the role it can play in the community.
As a result of disaster relief work efforts, Oasis Chapel, together with Samaritan’s Purse received an official recognition from the Prefectural Office.
After CRASH Japan and Samaritan’s Purse had retrieved, Oasis Chapel continued to use Camp Morigo as a long-term disaster relief activities hub. We operate disaster study tour 3 times a year, and also have weekend camps for children living in Fukushima, under elevated radiation conditions.
Camp Morigo’s role
Interestingly, that was one of its original purposes given to Camp Morigo when it was built in 1960. Oasis Chapel’s founding pastor Rev Saito and the associate missionary Ted Livingston built the campsite with a vision to meet the needs of local people and connect the locals (non-believers) with the international world. We saw how God used Camp Morigo in an unexpected way to bring back the original purposes vividly. He is truly faithful and is a God that brings forth His plans without fail. Camp Morigo was used as a relief organization camp base until September 2012. Over 15,000 volunteers were sent to the tsunami disaster area from Camp Morigo. Today, with limited facilities, the campsite is used as a weekend recreational site for children in Fukushima that can’t play outside due to radiation risk. It is also used as a relaxing hiking site for the disaster-affected and a concert hall to bond overseas artists that carry Christ’s love for the needy locals.