How satellite phones help missionaries

By NW Baptist Witness,

Disaster relief volunteers with Japanese International Baptist Church (JIBC), of Tigard, OR, are grateful to community partners after a recent donation of a portable satellite terminal for use in the mission field.

During a presentation Jan. 15, the church received an iSavi IsatHub from Friends of Japan in Oregon, which partnered with groups including Uwajimaya grocery store, Yuuyake Shimbun (Sunrise Newspaper), Sushi Land, Portland Japanese Language Teachers and Portland Imagawayaki Chef’s Association.

Jim Hill, with Yuuyake Shimbun, said the goal was to make sure JIBC missionaries have access to resources if they become imperiled during relief work overseas.

“I’ve often wondered,” said Hill, “we have this team that goes over there. Are they prepared for something also if something was to happen?”

JIBC has been active in disaster relief since 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami devastated Northern Japan. The church has since created Hope Japan, which responds regularly to disasters including in August of 2018 when large-scale flooding impacted Western Japan, and in September of 2018 when a deadly earthquake struck the northern island of Hokkaido.

JIBC Pastor Kenji Yokoy said God has used Hope Japan to move powerfully in the hearts and minds of the Japanese people, including fellow disaster relief groups who were wary at first of American volunteers.

Hope Japan’s activities have also fostered relationships at home including in October of 2018 when they coordinated with the Japan-America Society of Oregon to plan a relief trip to Hokkaido. Though several people volunteered at the time, the trip failed to get under way. However Yokoy said it was still a step in the right direction.

On Jan. 15, Yokoy expressed gratitude for the donation of the satellite terminal.

“I know that this represents not just a lot of money but your heart and care for us because we can’t do what we do without you,” he said.

The terminal, which retails for around $1,000, allows several mobile devices to link at the same time, enabling voice, text and data without the need for a cellular network. Hill said the cost was about twice what they expected to spend, but said equipping JIBC missionaries was a proper investment.

“We felt that it would be a very useful tool that the team could take with them,” he said.

The terminal also included a kit with utility knives, headlamps, a charger and extra batteries. Yokoy said such a gift was valuable because there have been times when his missionaries were in harm’s way, including close proximity to landslides.

“It causes me great concern and worry because I don’t want to lead people into that kind of a dangerous situation without being equipped and this is going to help us and I’m so grateful for us,” he said.

JIBC has no plans for a Hope Japan trip in the near future, but they remain ready if the need arises. Yokoy said the goal, at the end of the day, is for missionaries to “give our lives and lay it down for others.”

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