Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Perspective.


The images on television this past weekend have been sobering, and I’m sure you - like our family - have been moved to tears and stirred to pray for the people of Japan. I've been traveling in the midwest this past weekend, and it's been hard to stay up to date on all of the news from the field. This evening, I'm getting caught up and wanting to share some thoughts.

To put the spiritual darkness of Japan in perspective, Japan averages about 90 suicides per day. As I'm writing this paragraph, the official death toll stands at 2400, and that is still small compared to what the number may be in the end. Of course, this is TRAGIC AND HEARTBREAKING. In a single day, thousands died.  Tens of thousands lost everything.  And every news outlet in the world is reporting round the clock (and it's right for them to do so). But, it's also tragic and heartbreaking that this very rich, first-world country is so spiritually poor and so many are without hope. As we watch the news, we need to also remember that a normal month in the life of Japan brings 2700 suicides...and it doesn't make the news.

Statistics can be a bit sterile, but they can also help us get the lay of the land.  Here are some statistics provided by one of our leaders from the field this week:

"The areas affected by the earthquake and tsunamis...are some of the most spiritually needy places in Japan. With over 4.9 million people yet only about 9,000 active Christians (about 0.15%; about 1/6 of 1%). Fukushima has the lowest average worship attendance in all of Japan with only 19 per church. There is one city and 44 towns with no church at all. There are 86 missionaries (adults, including husband and wife) assigned to these prefectures.  One town in Ibaraki has over 46,000 people with no church (Operation Japan, 24) and several others have over 24,000 people with no churches. Average attendance for all the churches in Japan is the lowest in Fukushima prefecture. Ibaraki prefecture has the least number of people claiming to have any religious beliefs."

So, join us as we pray for God to be merciful to Japan in this hour of need.  But don't stop by praying for physical relief.  Pray that men and women would turn from their idols to worship the true and living God who created them and loves them.  Ask God for true revival in this dark land that's in such desperate need of the peace and hope that only Christ can bring.

By the way - this is why we’re compelled to leave the relative comfort and familiarity of life in the U.S. to serve Christ in Japan.

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