The church network we are working with in Japan has been collecting information on each of its churches, trying to assess how they have been affected by last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
As we reviewed the list of churches and the news from each one, we were extremely blessed to see several reports of “our pastor is safe” or “no damage to report.” As devastating as the disaster was, many were spared, and we praise God for that.
Many others reported damage to their church buildings—everything from cracks in the walls to flood damage to collapsed ceilings. Dozens of others have not been heard from at all.
One pastor reported being immersed in a tsunami wave that was chest-high. He survived, but his town and church building sustained severe damage. “The scale of the damage is found to be far beyond our imagination,” said one pastor.
Rescue and relief efforts are still underway. Many communities remain completely inaccessible due to washed-out roads, debris, and flood damage. Shortages of gasoline and food have been reported in some areas.
The following insight from a former missionary to Japan is particularly enlightening. Here he explains how this tragedy could affect Japanese people in a different way than we see in other cultures.
“We hear a lot about the dignity of the Japanese people, how their response is much different from many of us around the world. These are Japanese societal norms, and they prevent the Japanese people from expressing many of their emotions in the ways we consider normal and we take for granted.
"Fear, pain, grief and anxiety are some of the many emotions that go along with a catastrophic event of this magnitude. The Japanese normally hide and suppress these emotions; this is their culture. A good outside face, to keep what is inside hidden.
“In my experience with many of the survivors of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, they don't have a chance to truly heal. They feel these emotions but they are forced to hide them. When given a moment to reflect on the past tragedy with someone not of their culture, they then relive the same emotions they had on that day. Time does not heal wounds, when you are not allowed to express them.
"For many now, this event will free them from this societal bond. And in as much as this freedom is a great opportunity for Christ and His Gospel to bring hope, it is also an opportunity for the numerous evil spirits, demons, and gods that reside in Japan as well.
"The problem may very well be that there are so few Christians in Japan to meet this immense need. So my prayer is that Japanese Christians can bring the light of Christ to such a dark country and that this light will be multiplied in ways that reflect God’s power and love for a lost people.”
Please pray with us that God would give those who remain the strength and compassion to reach out in love to others. Please join our effort to equip and mobilize these brothers and sisters today.