Valley pastor heads to Japan following deadly tsunami

FRESNO, Calif.

On Monday Hajimu Fujii flew out to Japan to offer his prayers and encouragement.

Pastor Fujii's regularly scheduled trip to Japan has taken on greater importance. He'll worship with friends and family in the Tokyo area before heading to other cities.

Pastor Fujii and his wife Kayoko left Fresno for Japan Monday morning. Fujii leaves with a heavy heart but said it's important he brings a message of hope to the people of Japan. He said, "I preach this is not the end of the world, just the beginning so I want to encourage them. We need prayer, we need prayer."

Pastor Fujii gathered donations from special weekend services at the North Fresno Japanese Chapel and another in Sacramento.

Fujii last year visited the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It is located just three miles from a friend's church. His fellow pastor is okay but Fujii is worried about the congregation. "They are very close to nuclear power station. Now they are evacuating. Such a big sadness for us."

Fujii has made contact with his relatives. So has his wife. They are all okay. But he said the stunning images of destruction are difficult to watch. The pastor just wants a chance to raise people's spirits in any way he can. Fujii said, "One of the hardest times in Japanese history since World War II so I want to encourage Japanese churches."

Pastor Fujii will spend ten days in Japan before he returns to the valley.

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