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3/11: Hope and Healing for Japan

Updated: May 7, 2022

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

I was invited by the Mission to the World (PCA) Refugee team to collaborate on developing an arts outreach to Japan’s people during the 10th anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, that claimed the lives of more than 19,000, leaving 47,000 displaced. I know all too well the horror of such tragedies as I recalled my 9/11 experience in New York on September 11, 2001. The scars we wear are reminders of past hurts and trauma, leaving indelible marks on our hearts and souls. They are also emblems of the mercy and grace of God. Scars have stories and can be the birth of something new. For generations to come, the Great Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami, will be remembered as a day of disaster for Japan’s people.

Our team created a 10-minute video that gave an overview of 3/11 with a message of hope and healing. I was the creative director, writer, and one of the narrators for the project. God was definitely in the process, and we are grateful for the support and guidance of artist Peter Bakelaar, a missionary with MTW serving the people of Japan for more than 30 years. The art exhibition “Scars: The Path Toward Healing” is a collection of artwork by Mr. Bakelaar and other local artists telling the story of 3/11. The “Beauty Out of Brokenness” video produced by Clayton Kerr is part of the show. It is a compilation of photos, footage, and stories, including messages of hope from partnering organizations – Peter Bakelaar, Nagoya Arts Network International, Bill Barnett, Storytellers Creative Arts, Dr. Kay Burklin, MTW Refugee Ministry, Suzy Schultz Fine Art, and Clayton Kerr, Adapted Films.

The scars we wear are reminders of past hurts and trauma, leaving indelible marks on our hearts and souls. They are also emblems of the mercy and grace of God.

Bakelaar designed and created “19,000”, a massive wooden installation. Its 19,000 pins symbolize the lives lost in the Great Sendai earthquake. As people enter the exhibition, they sit quietly in front of it, praying, weeping, and remembering. Each attendee inserts a nail into the wood.

When writing the script, I felt it was important to connect emotionally and culturally with Japanese culture to bring the love and hope of Christ. Kintsugi, also known as “Golden Seams,” is the art of repairing broken teacups, bowls, and vessels with lacquer, painting the cracks with pure gold. Each brushstroke of gold transforms the broken pottery into a beautiful masterpiece. Kintsugi beautifies the breakage instead of covering up the defects. A restored bowl with cracks festooned in gold has more value than a pristine, flawless one.

Watch "Beauty Out of Brokenness"

Just as Kintsugi transforms broken vessels, God, the Master Artist and maker of the world, and creator of humankind, lovingly transforms us from sin and brokenness into beautiful masterpieces with powerful stories to tell of His goodness, grace, and love. He makes all things new (Revelation 21:1-8).

I am ever so grateful for the opportunity and look forward to future collaborations and partnerships to impact the world for Christ.

(Excerpts from “Beauty Out of Brokenness” by William S. Barnett, 2021. Read the full article here.

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