There is one amazing man who God continues to come across our path that I wanted to write about today. His name is A-san. Eric met him several months ago, and then re-met him when he came by to tell us about a house that was going to be demolished next week that we could look at as an option to buy.
Eric went to see the house (and another one since then) — unfortunately the tsunami went above the ceiling in both of these homes and the amount of work and damage and size of the homes make them not so practical. But we have enjoyed getting to know A-san over the course of these few months. Eric had asked him to come to one of our community gatherings, where he shared what has happened to him since the tsunami (bottom center, with team from Hawaii who was with us for two weeks). Yesterday, the Be One women met for our weekly prayer walking, and we happened to run into him! It was sweet to gather around him on the street and pray God’s blessing for him.
We have heard more of his story during the times we have gotten together.
A’s house was located about 1 kilometer inland from the sea. Although he managed to escape to a nearby school, his home was completely washed away. He also lost his niece and her son, who were trying to get home from the post office near the sea when the tsunami struck. Now, he is living in a small apartment overlooking the land where his home used to be.
He lived for months in the local elementary school evacuation center. He was mean and grumpy (by his own admission). He said the worst part about life after the tsunami were the ghosts that continued to plague his consciousness. He would see actual faces on the ghosts; some places were worse to go than others. In particular, he hated to drive through the tunnels that lead from our area of town into the downtown area. He said he would always see many ghosts between the two tunnels, so he would never drive that way after dark.
One day he was at a food distribution, and struck up a conversation with Pastor Suzuki. He started telling him about the ghosts he was seeing. Pastor Suzuki asked if he could pray over him, and he nodded. Our conservative-Baptist pastor friend prayed over Mr. A.
The ghosts disappeared. Not slowly, gradually. They were gone immediately. Mr. A. said they have never returned. He knew something had happened. He witnessed a miracle. And it changed him.
He has become outgoing, kind, helpful. We love this man! He brings fertilizer to us for when we plant trees and flowers for people. He passes on housing leads. He loves to attend different worship services and gatherings around town. His grandchildren ask him what happened because they used to be afraid of him and they aren’t anymore. He said of himself that he used to be slumped over, depressed, and sullen all the time. Now he stands upright, he looks in your face when you talk; he is smiling and a happy man.
God is at work in Ishinomaki. Perhaps more importantly, God is changing people, one at a time.