Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"How has God been impacting the people of Japan?"

April 1 was to be the day when a good friend and professional photographer from our home church was to arrive in Japan to take pictures for our missionaries to use in their ministry publications. We had to cancel the trip due to the disaster. In going through my email I found a message from him, sent on March 11 at 10:22, about 4 hours before the earth shook in Japan.

In preparation for his trip he wanted to encourage those praying for him, so he asked me "How has God been impacting the people of Japan since you have been there?"

I never got the chance to answer him because of the disaster, but my answer would be very different now that God got the attention of Japan and the world! Of course it is still early days, but this much I can I say:
Photo: NY Times
  • Millions of Christians around the world have been focussing their prayers on Japan.
  • The Tohoku area of Japan, which had most of the hardest hit areas, is one of the least churched areas in this nation.
  • Thousands of Christians in Japan have responded by giving financially, collecting and delivering relief supplies, and going to help. CRASH Japan has been able to send about 100 volunteers into the field so far, with a goal of many hundreds more in the weeks and months to come.
  • Although I've heard that 15 foreigners have been confirmed dead, I have yet to hear of one Christian who has died yet.
  • Japanese pastors, churches, denominations and associations are meeting together to discuss what can be done, both short-term and long-term, in the stricken areas. We are praying for an unprecedented level of cooperation and unity among a relatively fragmented Japanese church.
  • Mission organizations, including OMF, are considering strategies for relief and recovery work, that may lead to ongoing ministry and (we hope) even new churches starting.
  • This triple calamity has shaken the confidence of many Japanese all over Japan. The nuclear issue is an ongoing concern (although we are safe in Tokyo), as are possible power outages in Tokyo and shortages of some items. Will this result in thousands of Japanese asking the hard questions of life and finding their answer in Christ? Only time will tell, but we must pray to that end.

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