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'I ran under the table... screaming, praying.' Christian worker caught up in Japan quake speaks to Premier

by Ros Mayfield

“We were just sitting down… and it started shaking.  I ran under the table, I was screaming, praying.”

Michael Frazier was in his ninth floor apartment in Japan, on Monday, when the earthquake hit.

He told Premier he evacuated as soon as he could, along with his neighbours: “It just felt like the building was going to fall. So we just ran out as soon as it stopped.”

Thousands of homes were destroyed in the quake and in aftershocks since.  So far dozens of lives are known to have been lost.

Because the epicentre was under the ocean, there were fears of a tsunami, like the one that devastated parts of southeast Asia, almost exactly 20 years earlier.  Often referred to as the ‘Boxing Day Tsunami’, it claimed more than 230,000 lives across 14 countries.

Japan is a mostly Buddhist country, with only 2 per cent of the population declaring themselves as Christian. One of Michael’s friends asked to pray with him, as they waited for the nightmare to end.

“We prayed right afterwards, and we were talking for hours – about, ‘Do you believe in Jesus?’ ‘What’s his role in your life?’”  He says people become very open, when faced with a near death experience.

Natural disasters are something people are told to prepare for in Japan, but the severity was still unexpected. Michael says, “When I moved into my apartment, we received information about the evacuation sites - it's just regular information, so we knew where to go… I've lived in Japan for seven years, and I've experienced earthquakes, but this is the first one where I thought, ‘Oh, this building may actually fall!’.”

While his tower block did withstand the tremors, Michael says his prayers are for those who were less fortunate, “We're just praying that anyone who's still in need of rescuing is quickly, efficiently saved. And that fires and other damages are controlled…

“It's winter, so pray that people who don't have a place to stay can have a warm place to wait while they figure out what to do.”

As a Christian in Japan, he’s anticipating more conversations in the mainly Buddhist nation about the meaning of life. “We pray that Christians here can witness, be salt and light and peace, even more than before, even through this.” 

His prayer is to see not only lives saved, but souls saved as well.

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