Today marks one month since the 9. 1 earthquake and tsunami that came roaring in minutes later. Here are the statistics at this point: 13,116 people dead, 14,377 still unaccounted. 151,000 survivors staying in 2,300 temporary shelters across the country. I don’t know if there was much news in the U.S., but today both the one month anniversary remembrance — many places stopping for a minute of silence and remembering — as well as the news that the radiation evacuation radius has been broadened due to further suspicious findings of radiation. Many farmers and fishermen have lost their livelihood. No one knows when – or if – they will be able to return to their homes in this widening area. Farm animals have been left to die; other farmers have chosen to take their own lives rather than make the kinds of decisions that they have to. Here is one article on this.
We continue to hear personal stories of loss. We get the feeling sometimes that there are so many stories of hurt that are waiting to be told. Japanese do not share their hearts easily. One of our good friends in Sanda just told us that one of her colleagues at work had gotten married two years ago and moved to her husband’s hometown up north by the sea. She was very pregnant when the tsunami came, and couldn’t get away… she and her unborn baby were washed out to sea. Her husband remains, grieving the loss.
This evening has been a very strange night because of the amazing number of aftershocks that have been coming one after another the past few hours. We have been searching news sites for more information; one was a 6.6 with many coming after it. The country does not stop shaking… There have been reports of landslides caused by this; four people right now are trapped because of this.
Yesterday we attended a prayer gathering in Osaka attending by several hundred from churches across our region for the purpose of praying for the Tohoku (earthquake) region. It was great to join our hearts and beseech the Lord for mercy as well as to use believers to minister to those who are hurting.
About one fourth in the room have already gone up to do relief work – I love that! One missionary who is up there now was interviewed on skype in the morning, and he was asked what is needed most right now. He said, “Hands. We need more Christians to come up and continue the work so we don’t need to stop. So many people still need help.” Many of the Japanese who shared testimonies said that they did not know what they could offer, but they felt the urge to go and saw God do amazing things once they were.
Eric stayed last night for a three hour meeting in Osaka to meet with other Christian leaders in the region. About a year and a half ago there were some prophecies made about numerous earthquakes that would hit Japan. After the recent earthquake, some leaders met to discuss the implications of the prophecy and the current situation. Last night was a meeting to discuss that and next steps that Christians should be taking. There are different interpretations of why these disasters have been happening in Japan. Eric shared our convictions in the meeting, that these recent disasters are in no way a judgment from God on the nation of Japan itself. It is possible that the large number of earthquakes happening across the globe are early signs of the end times, but that is something that we cannot know for sure. Rather than instilling further fear of judgment on a nation that is already bound by fear, we feel that the only appropriate response for Christians is love. The discussions at last night’s meeting, many wonderful ideas were introduced of how to show love to those who are hurting.
Tomorrow morning, Eric and the other three Asian Access guys here in Sanda will be meeting to talk and pray about our next steps. We are thinking that sometime in the next few weeks Eric will again go up north. Please join us in praying for strategic connection, collective wisdom, and God’s heart of love to flow across this land.