Twelve Bottles of Coke

Cory and Masami Giesbrecht are ministering on the streets of downtown Osaka, bringing groups from the Ishibashi church to reach the hurting and the homeless.

Those to whom they minister find hope emerging from the chaos of their lives, and the volunteers are finding that their own lives are also being changed as they serve.

Following the 2016 earthquakes, Cory took three such volunteers to help with shoveling the rubble that was once a man’s house. The homeowner, Narita-san, sat mute with shock while they worked that first day. Although the volunteers were keenly aware of the man’s pain, they respected his silence; Narita-san was only one of thousands in the city who was experiencing the trauma of homelessness.

The entire city of Kumamoto was without water, the roads impassable and a five-hundred bed hospital knocked off its foundations. Thousands were injured from collapsed buildings, and hundreds of thousands were without shelter. Many, like Narita-san, were numb with despair. But in the aftermath, God began to weave this disaster into his overarching story of redemptive love, as Christians across the nation of Japan united to bring order to the chaos, and hope to the hopeless. To people like Narita-san.

Over the two days that Narita-san watched the determined efforts of the volunteers digging through the debris, his heart slowly warmed and his head cleared enough for him to find his voice again. “You guys must be thirsty,” he finally said on the second day, and held out a case of cold Coca-Cola to the soiled and sweating men. They smiled and received the gift with appreciation. They were indeed thirsty, and in ways that they had not even realized.

Cory’s volunteers were students who had themselves been overwhelmed by the destruction of the earthquakes. One of them was not a Christian, but found himself deeply affected by seeing the body of Christ working together to restore hope to his country. The other, a believer, had been reluctant to volunteer at first, feeling no connection with his church and little compassion for their cause. But that day, as he labored to restore Narita-san’s home, he found that God was likewise labouring to restore his own heart. Pray for the Giesbrechts, and for the continued healing of Japan.

By Nikki White