A Team of Heroes

As Pastor Hiroshi Ito opens the doors to a small storefront he explains that the building used to be a convenience store before the 2011 Japan tsunami and earthquake. The Japanese characters above the door now read “Higashi-Matsushima Amazing Grace Center.”

In the relief center that Convoy of Hope has helped to fund, there are piles of clothing, supplies, a small library, children’s activities, coffee and tea ready for distribution. Among the items are also bicycles, heaters, kitchen appliances and other needed items that were donated by Convoy of Hope through our partnership with the center.

As Pastor Ito showed us around the center, Japanese volunteers began to file in to prepare for disaster survivors who would be arriving shortly. Just as volunteers do at our community outreaches in the U.S., it was inspiring to see people coming together to help one another – no matter what nationality.

To get their attention for a group picture I call them “a team of heroes” followed by laughs, smiles and even a flex from Pastor Ito. Thank you for letting me introduce you to some of Ishinomaki’s heroes.


  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Nazomi Nozomi commutes an hour and a half everyday to work at the relief center. She speaks great English and helps with translation. Later in the morning she helped me communicate with a mom and her children who came in for kids activities and tea.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Akari Akari's name means light and that was no mistake – she glows with joy. "She's only been here a short time but she's accomplished a great amount," says Ito.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Wataru A former volunteer from the relief center returned to high school where Wataru's father is vice principal. His father heard of the great work of the relief center and sent Wataru to be a part of it.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Toyo Toyo, who is celebrating his 31st birthday as well as his marriage on the day of our outreach is responsible for day-to-day oversight of the center. With a teaching background and two degrees in physics, Ito hopes he'll start a tutoring program at the center.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Kazumi Kazumi, (pictured right) works in the telecom industry but she's using 10 years of saved vacation days to volunteer at various relief centers along the coast. Pastor Ito and Toyo are very grateful for her help.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Mijo Mijo has been volunteering in Ishinomaki since March 21st, 2011, only 10 days after the tsunami. Her smile gives away her passion for helping tsunami survivors – especially the kids who come to the center.
  • Japan Update 2013-04-18 Pastor Hiroshi Ito Pastor Hiroshi Ito came to Ishinomaki 10 days after the tsunami to help a friend find his aunt. Thankfully they found her alive, but what Ito saw that day changed him forever. He came back the next day with more help and the first warm food that anyone in the area had seen since the disaster. He tears up as he tells of the mud on the ground where he started a fire to warm the rice. Since that day his fire has not gone out.
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Disaster Services / Photo Series / Program Updates
  • pAmBiHiRa0812 .

    It is “Higashi-matsushima Amazing Grace Support Center”
    Thank you…!!!
    God bless

    • Jason Inman

      Thank you for pointing that out. It should be fixed now. It was great to be at the center!