How God used Disaster to Raise up a New Leadership Generation
Pastor, we need your help.” I was standing in the middle of a crowded office in Tokyo. All around me was chaos. Phones were ringing, televisions were blaring, and people were everywhere.
It was March 2011. A monstrous disaster had struck my country. A massive earthquake was soon followed by a lethal tsunami, resulting in the meltdown of one of our nuclear plants (known as the Triple Disaster). We would learn that tens of thousands of people had been killed and hundreds of thousands of people had been made homeless.
As soon as I was able, I had come to the headquarters of Christian Relief, Assistance, Support, and Hope Japan (CRASH), founded by foreign missionaries to provide assistance in a time of disaster. CRASH Japan was a small, young organization. It had been called upon to help only with smaller issues. Now, CRASH Japan was facing a disaster bigger than anyone had imagined possible.
“Pastor, we need you to head up our logistics effort. You will be in charge of coordinating the collection and distribution of relief supplies. Can you do it?” Me? A young leader, not even forty years old? Do they know what they are asking?
JAPAN, MY NATIVE COUNTRY, has a strong heritage of leadership development. We are a group-centric culture, with life built around community. Over the centuries, we developed an apprenticeship system that created channels through which people could be trained and mentored for all manner of vocations—everything from plumbing to professional management.
We are also a culture that respects and reveres our elderly. The maturity that comes with age is highly valued—so much so that, in Japan, a person 50 years of age is still considered young in leadership terms. But while we are built around community, our system is hierarchical. Senior leaders have great authority and are given much respect. Senior leadership is not questioned, especially by younger leaders in the group. Japan has also had a culture of lifetime employment. When a person becomes a senior leader, they envision holding that position not to a particular retirement age, but until their death.
In addition to age, …
About the Author
YOSHIYA HARI is pastor of Saikyo Hope Chapel as well as national director of Asian Access Japan. He, his wife Megumi, their son Akito and their daughter Kaori live in Toda Saitama, Japan.
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