Sunrise International Ministries Tohoku Report

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After the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, God called a rag tag group of us from our church in Tokyo to go up and serve those in the disaster area. By March 13, 2011, we were able to pack a van full of supplies and get to the Tohoku region. Initially, we only thought that we would make a few trips up with supplies and love people as best as we could. Through God’s provision and leading, we realised that God had uniquely placed us to serve those in the Ishinomaki area. In 2011 alone, we made over 30 trips up to distribute supplies, help and love those affected by the tsunami. 5811995530 456424deac oSince we are a small group with limited resources, we asked ourselves the question, “what does God want us to do in this chaotic disaster area?” We knew that there were much larger and better funded organisations, but at the same time God called us to be up here and work through relationships. One day early on, after distributing all of our supplies, we broke up in groups and prayer walked around the Watanoha neighbourhood. We prayed, “God give us relationships” and as one of our leaders was praying this a man who had his home and business washed away, walked up to him and said “thank you for coming, will you be my friend?” Since that time we have focused on serving in the Watanoha area of Ishinomaki.
A city with approximately 140,000 people, Ishinomaki suffered the most human loss of any city during the tsunami (approximately 4,000 people dead and missing). With approximately 40,000 people displaced, many are still living in prefabricated temporary housing units far from where they lived, worked and attended school (in some case up to 20 miles away).
Although we continued to make bi-monthly trips up from Tokyo through 2012, the almost 1,000 km round distance made it difficult for us to take the next step in the relationships that we were building.


In the summer of 2011 and 2012, Joey and Ai Millard spent 5 weeks in Ishinomaki with their family and felt God call them to move up to this city. Due to housing issues and responsibilities in Tokyo and a baby, they were not able to move up until the summer of 2013. Since stepping out in faith, God has blessed them with incredible relationships and a wonderful ministry team. Please continue to pray for their housing situation. Imagine how hard it is to find housing for a family in a disaster area where close to 40,000 people have been displaced and are searching for new housing opportunities.

Different Ministries

In all of our ministries, we focus on building relationships in order to lead people to Jesus. We love people where they are at, but our hope and prayer is that we will be able to make disciples, plant churches and raise up leaders for the harvest!

The Rock

In June of 2011, after frantically searching for 3 months for a building, God provided a wonderful warehouse for us to use as a base for our operations. At that time, our base was merely a place for volunteers to stay and store supplies, but as time went on and the needs in the community shifted from immediate supplies and volunteer support to spiritual/psychological healing, we transitioned into using this facility as a community center and place for people to hang out and be loved. In March of 2012, with help from Hope International Development Agency Japan we built a Rock Climbing/Bouldering Wall to provide a safe space for local youth and kids to hang out and be in community.

Sports Center/Rock Climbing Gym

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Currently, we are open six days a week from 3pm until 11pm. Local people are free to come and climb, play soccer, work out, throw darts, play ping pong and hang out. This ministry has been a great tool to build relationships with local youth and speak into their lives. A couple high school students who come regularly have been attending our church for the past six or seven months.
Every Friday night we prepare a dinner for anyone who comes and have a time of fellowship and fun. From the beginning, our hope has been that this ministry will lead to a church plant. This summer we hope to start meeting at the Rock for a worship service focused on the youth and young adults.

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Community Center/Church Multipurpose Center

Our facility is broken into two sides: on one side is the sports center/climbing wall and on the other side we have a large open area we use for meetings, local community events, church meetings, city wide church celebrations, barbecues, fellowship, special events and for lodging for volunteers.

Be One (B1)


Be One Network is a church planting network originally based out of the Osaka area. We personally knew many of their leaders before the tsunami and are excited and honored to partner with them up here in Ishinomaki. Their vision is to plant churches that multiply with followers of Christ who are “on mission with God!”

Nozomi Project

Nozomi Project is a social enterprise started by B1 and currently hires 18 women to make one of a kind jewlery from broken shards and provides the women with “sustainable income, community, dignity and hope.” Nozomi means “hope” in Japanese and our hope is that all of the women working here would find thier hope in Jesus. Nozmi’s tag line is “Beauty from Brokenness” and we have been seeing God implanting his vision in the women at Nozomi. We serve at Nozomi where ever they need help including, weekly parenting classes, discipleship groups, taxes/finances, photography and trouble shooting.

Volunteering/Recovery Efforts

Because of the state of the city and evacuees, our volunteering roles shift all the time, but our goal is always to love and serve people with the love of Jesus. Lately, we have been helping people move from temporary housing units into semi-temporary housing, yard work, community events, park clean ups and kids events.

Craft Night

After moving up to Ishinomaki, Ai Millard had a vision from God to start a weekly gathering for women to spend time together and work on crafts together. This ministry has provided a wonderful opportunity to bond with local women and provide them with a safe and fun atmosphere that gives them the opportunity to step away from their daily lives and share openly about their struggles and fears.

Future Plans/Endeavours

Church Planting

Our vision is to see healthy and Christ centered communities of faith planted and multiplied all throughout this region and spread to the ends of the earth. Currently we are hoping to plant church is the following areas.
– neighbouring areas/communities
– youth church
– city church

Training and Equipping

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In order to reach the millenial generation and raise up workers for the harvest, we believe that Training and Equipping will be key for God’s church to flourish here in Japan.
– new modes of teaching, training and reaching people (podcast, videos, online resources, etc.)
– training and equipping sessions and camps

Join our Team–Support, Pray, Come help and Give

We still need your continued financial support and prayer. Please partner with us!