by Stan Murray
Area Director for Southeast Asia and Japan
When we walk out of our doors each morning, to go to work, school, the local Y, etc., we have no guarantee that we will be able to come home or that our home will be there when we do! I would very much imagine that hundred of thousands of Japanese and foreigners living in Japan did not suspect a thing last Friday morning when they left their homes. In so many cases, it was the last time. And yet, for those who survived or are still in the process of surviving, there is little or nothing that is even recognizable in the lives that they lived up until 4:45 PM on March 11th. While we can have great empathy for the many thousands affected by the tsunami and earthquakes, we are probably (maybe even secretly) happy it did not happen to us or our loved ones. Still, tragedies like this certainly remind us of our own humanity and how delicate it can be.
My heart is heavy for the people of Japan. My wife and I lived among them in Okinawa, Japan for 22 years serving as American Baptist missionaries. I speak their language, I understand their culture in large part and I hurt for them. Now their emotional and physical well-being has been seriously compromised and while Japanese and foreign relief workers race to their rescue providing support for their frayed nerves and broken bodies, who will address the spiritual questions that will come? The eclectic nature of Japanese religious experience will make them look for answers everywhere. As you pray, pray also that the Christian churches in Japan, many of which have lost their vision, will see this as an opportunity for outreach in the Name of Christ. With less than 1% of the population as active Christians, there is much room to grow.
These tragedies have happened. Beyond the scientific explanations of the earth plates (faults) shifting causing the shaking and the large and powerful waves, it is still hard to understand why. I do not believe we can assert that these events are God's judgment on the Japanese people or that this has happened to open the door for the gospel. However, as the hundreds of thousands of Japanese begin to grapple for answers, I would ask you to pray for the Japanese Christians to come to the side of their friends, family, and neighbors and find acceptable ways to introduce them to the Lord whose grace is sufficient at all times and in every circumstance.
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