A month ago, one of the most common things we heard from both individuals and churches went something like this: “We appreciate that God is calling you to Japan, but missions in Japan isn’t really on our radar right now.” Things have changed.
Now, Japan is on the front of all our minds. We’ve been humbled by the power of God’s creation and driven to our knees to pray for people whose lives have been changed forever. Our missionaries on the field are doing heroic work as they labor to the point of exhaustion and drive directly into harm’s way (even under radioactive fallout) to deliver basic necessities to those who are suffering.
In the midst of the tragedy, our teammates have been constantly reminding us of the realities that CNN doesn’t cover and we so easily forget: that Japan’s spiritual condition is just as tragic as her present physical circumstances. It’s terrible that so many have died as a result of this single catastrophic event. But it’s even more tragic to reflect on the fact that 99.5% of those who have lost their lives will stand before God alone, without Christ (since less than 0.5% of Japanese people are Christians). It’s horrific to hear that men and women are suffering from thirst because of polluted water systems, but it should also stir us to action that so many human beings – made in the image of God are also dying of Spiritual thirst when we have rivers of living water to share with them. In the words of our country director, Dan Iverson: “May the Japanese people come to thirst like this spiritually, and be this desperate seeking Living Water (Isa. 55:1-2; John 4); May they flee to higher ground . . . to The High Rock (Ps. 61:2); May a tsunami of grace, wave after wave, flood Japan (Ezek. 47; John 1:16).” Amen!
Some of you have asked whether this disaster causes us to rethink our decision to move to Nagoya. If anything, it has only strengthened our resolve. The LORD over the earthquake and tsunami has also shaken our family and called us to help plant a network of new churches in Nagoya. And miracle of miracles, he’s actually made us want to go take the Gospel to the Japanese! I can’t stress enough how amazing it is that God has made our self-centered hearts break for Japan! Is it safe? Probably not. But neither is it safe here in Asheboro, NC. Natural and man-made disasters only underscore the fact that there is only one place of real refuge – and that place is found only in Christ.