From “Camp Morigo” to “Oasis Center”
Immediately after the disaster, Oasis Chapel Rifu established a relief organization “OasisLife CARE” (OLC) to reach out to those affected by the tsunami. Now into the fifth year since the disaster, the immediate needs are met, however, the emotional needs and hopelessness are emerging ever more. To fulfil our mission and become an oasis for the lost, Oasis Chapel is now working to revive the damaged “Camp Morigo” in 2014. We are now working towards renewing the campsite into a multiple facility church campus, “Oasis Center”. In doing so, we as a church aim to establish a place in Rifu Town where community can meet, learn, change, and grow into Christ’s likeness, and also to care for the disaster affected people for long term.
Step 1 – (completed 2015 May)
Renovating the “Morigo Worship Hall”
The Morigo Worship Hall was built over 40 years ago with the hands of overseas and Japanese Christian volunteers. It was used extensively over the years, and especially after the disaster (2011) as a temporarily warehouse to store relief goods. After being used as a warehouse, a renovation was essential for the ran down Worship Hall. With the plan to use it as a multipurpose facility to reach out to the community, we completed the renovation of the Worship Hall in 2015 May.
This first step also included demolishing of the earthquake damaged buildings that were deemed unsafe. Demolished buildings included a dining hall, a kitchen (catering for up to 50), baths and toilet facilities, staff offices and an accommodation facility (up to 40 beds).
Step 2 – (current stage, in progress!)
Renovating “SHALOM House”
Camp Morigo had gained its business permit as a “lodging facility” under certain conditions (having specific facilities like baths, a kitchen etc). If our current permit is cancelled by the authorities due to the prolonged period of time of not having the necessary facilities as a “lodging facility”, no further constructions will be allowed on the premises. In addition, to register again and obtain a permit for development will incur cost and time for processing. Therefore, the necessary facilities (i.e. bath facilities and kitchen damaged and demolished due to the earthquake) need to be built as reasonably soon as possible in order to maintain the permit and to continue on developing Oasis Center.
Thankfully, our main accommodation cabin, SHALOM House, stood through the earthquake and is in good condition. We have decided to renovate “SHALOM House” to include bath facilities and staff residence. It will also have a “Room of Prayer”, a place to quieten our hearts to listen and spend quality time with God.
We plan to complete Step 2 by end of October 2016.
Until the completion of Cafe Livingston (further explained in the following section, Step 3) we plan to DIY renovate the old staff house and run a smaller scale cafe.
Step 3 – Building a Community Cafe –
Our third step is to build a community cafe. We envision the cafe to be a place of fun, refreshment, learning and meeting our Saviour, for many in our community.
Name: Cafe Livingston. The name is from missionary Ted Livingston who founded the campsite together with the founding church pastor. It is also from our Lord Jesus Christ, who became the living corner stone for the church.
Operation: Open to the public on weekdays. Weddings, art exhibitions etc available. An information hub to introduce communal topic workshops on parenting, marriage, leadership etc held in Morigo Worship Hall (adjacent to the cafe) or at Oasis Chapel (close to the local train station). Possibility of using it as parents relaxing and waiting area during children’s activities held at Morigo chapel or sports ground within the Oasis Center premises.
Purpose: To introduce Oasis Center to the town’s people. To be a meeting place and a relaxing space for locals. To become a life-long learning cafe that will provide more than just coffee and cake, but light from the Bible to everyday issues of life.
Why a community cafe?
We wanted to launch Oasis Center with a place that is open to the public. Rifu, as a commuter town of the prefectural capital Sendai, is welcoming young families to live, including those who were affected by the tsunami. We believe a readily accessible cafe surrounded by lash green will become an oasis for Sendai and Rifu with its population reaching 1.5 million. Our multi-purpose Worship Hall next to the proposed cafe will be used to hold seminars, English classes, gospel classes, kids activities etc. A cafe next to it will serve in multiple ways to support those ministries held at the Worship Hall. As we have started to build up Oasis Center, we hope and pray that building a community cafe in the church campus will be a welcoming door for the town’s people.