As many of you know, in the summer of 2006, I lived in Perth, Australia and taught ESL (English as a second language) to Japanese and Korean International Students. The missionary family I worked with (Steve and Sarah Young) had spent time in Japan before moving to Australia. In fact, Steve grew up in Japan as his parents were missionaries there.
First Pres’s weekly newsletter contained a letter from a PCA missionary in Japan, Michael Oh. He is the head of Christ Bible Seminary. I wanted to share it with you in hopes that your prayers and thoughts would expand for Japan and that you would see this as an opportrnity to examine your own heart.
"As you all know, the most powerful earthquake in the history of Japan and the 5th most powerful earthquake recorded in the history of the world rocked the Sendai area on Friday and reverberated throughout Japan and even into Asia. The tsunami even claimed life as far away as a California beach.
"Reports are now coming out that half or more of an entire village of 17,000 people is missing. Many are likely washed out to sea.
"We're thankful that all of our CBI Japan team and Christ Bible Seminary students are safe. None are in the immediate Sendai area where the quake hit hardest. Prayers are going out that Japanese Christians and the church in Japan will rise up to claim its call to be the light of the world in the midst of darkness. Churches and Christians are mobilizing already to respond with the love of Christ to feed and clothe those who have been most hard hit (Matthew 25:38).
"Over the years I've often described our mission in Japan as praying and preparing toward the day of opportunity in Japan. In the back of my mind I've often thought of the possibility of great suffering being a part of the opening of the heart of the great nation of Japan. A massive earthquake or a nuclear missile from North Korea topped the list of possible devastating ways the Lord might awaken that nation that I love. This, perhaps, could be one of the ways the Lord pierces the darkness of Japan with His light (John 1:5).
"Our burden for the Japanese did not start with this earthquake and we hope that your burden for the Japanese will not end as the days pass by.
"Tragedies will continue to occur throughout the world. Friends in Haiti have lamented that many are already forgetting the devastation that that nation experienced and is still experiencing this day. The point will not be to merely keep our focus on the latest terrible events and locations. The point will be to remember that the Lord has called us to pray for, to intercede on behalf of, to ask for (Ps. 2:8), and to go to the nations.
"Japan is the largest unreached nation in the world. In Japan they are reporting upwards of 1100 dead so far. Again, it is very possible that that number will multiply 10 fold. But every 11 days an equal number of Japanese (1100) take their own lives. In hopelessness they turn to suicide.
"Every day is a tragedy in Japan for those without Christ. An exciting thought is that perhaps in these days there are more prayers being prayed for Japan throughout the world than at any time in the history of the world. What purposes could God have both in this tragedy and in the active response of the Church of Jesus Christ? Spurgeon spoke about how oftentimes within God's sovereignty, God moves His people to pray prayers that He desires to answer.
"So please do pray. Pray not only for the physical life and well-being of the Japanese but for their spiritual salvation. And may the prayers of Christians around the world be used not only to bring the comfort of Christ to Japan but also as a prayer tsunami to break the powerful dams of the rock-hard hearts of the Japanese.
"And please do give to respond to this tragedy. Gospel ministries in the Sendai area will take months, even years to recover. I heard from Churches Helping Churches that they are seriously considering giving aid to rebuild churches and ministries in Japan. Please ask them to do so, and please give. Our MTW Chiba team (mtw.org) is already mobilizing trucks and food to bring to the hardest hit areas. These efforts come at a dear financial cost.
"And please give to respond to the every day tragedy in Japan. The greatest need for Japan now and before this tragedy is for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Japan is often described as the most difficult mission field in the world. What a day of opportunity this is for the Gospel! Won't you respond by supporting mission work, spiritual relief work in Japan?....
"And please do consider your own life. Is your heart and your life right with your Maker? Are there unreconciled relationships in your life? Do you need to seek forgiveness from someone? Have you a need to repent of particular sin in your life? Have you held something in your life back from the Lord? Do you need to share the life-giving Gospel with someone you love? Or hate? Your life is but a vapor (James 4:14) that at any moment can vanish from this earth. Why live life as if you will live here on earth forever? Why live life as if your life were your own?
"Serve God's eternal purposes and your life will be the best response to the every day tragedy of this fallen world and the every day opportunity to bring glory to the worthy name of Jesus."