After a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan on March 2011, Southern Adventist University students rallied to create Ganbare Nippon, a fundraising campaign meaning “Don’t Give Up, Japan!”
The campaign was originally for an Adventist boarding academy in the country, but the management of funds was later left to the Northern Asia-Pacific Division. With the support of campaign leaders like senior nursing major Layla Suzuki and senior biology major Leroy Abrahams, the $9,000 raised was used to purchase hundreds of Christian books for kids who were affected by the disaster.
“Our goal for Ganbare Nippon was to use the money for mission,” Layla said. “There were many organizations already distributing daily supplies so we wanted to be different.”
The Japan Union Conference (JUC) added about $5,800 to the $9,000 raised through Ganbare Nippon. Through the JUC, the Christian literature was bought from the Adventist Book Center and given to the local kids. Some of the books included Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, Great Stories for Kids, and other Japanese titles from the Adventist publishing house in Japan.
These books will give Japanese children the opportunity to learn about God in a country where Christianity is uncommon. Less than 1% of the 127 million people are Christian, and only 15,000 are Adventist.
“It’s nice to know God is with you,” Leroy said. “[These books] can serve as a reminder of that, especially with their stories of how God’s helped others in the past.”
Apart from teaching them about a loving God, these books will also provide a scholastic activity to students who are unable to attend school or remain displaced.
“The donation made a greater impact on the people in Japan than most of us imagined. I have heard and received many letters with words of appreciation,” Layla said. “I can’t wait to go to heaven and see the faces of those whose lives were saved by these books.”
Ganbare Nippon originated from three campus organizations: Asian Club, Campus Ministries, and the Student Association. Donations came from Southern students and faculty, Collegedale Academy, local churches, and community members.