O God, Japan!

"O God, Japan!" The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and thirty-foot tsunami that decimated northeastern Japan’s coastal cities (just as spring break began here on campus) is not only the sixth strongest quake on global record, but is also the most costly natural disaster in earth’s history. However, it is the human toll that has broken our collective heart. Born to missionary parents in Tokyo and having spent the first 14 years of my life in the Land of the Rising Sun, I have felt the anguish of displaced Japanese who from afar have wept over the numbing television and computer screen images streaming out of the devastation. Haven’t you cried, too? How can we not, when this land of stalwart, industrious, orderly, polite and gracious almost to a fault people collectively cry out to their gods—to anyone who will listen, really—their unabashed pain and sorrow? In California last week with my mother, I stared at the black and white front page newspaper photograph of a Japanese woman sobbing over the lifeless hand of her mother, protruding from the tsunami wreckage of what was once their home. Doesn’t God weep with those who do? What can we do, we who returned rested from our break to face the glory and joys of a new springtime across this campus? We must do something, mustn’t we—if we would not fall victim to what psychologists describe as “frozen emotions,” deep feelings prompted by television images, but never acted upon? You may give on two fronts. ADRA International (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, now headed by our own Rudi Maier) has mobilized its disaster response team in Japan to the crisis centers. ADRA Japan is coordinating its relief efforts in evacuation centers with the Japanese Department of Social Services. You can make your gift, as I did, at www.adra.org. Just click onto the “Japan Quake” banner when it appears and follow the simple directions. If you prefer to talk with an ADRA representative, you may call 1-800-424-ADRA. A second front of this disaster is the damage sustained by our church in Japan. If you would like to contribute to the church’s rebuilding efforts, you may send your gift to the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists electronically at https://appeal.nadadventist.org/Japan, or you may make your check payable to: North American Division, Attn: 2011 Japanese Earthquake/Tsunami Fund, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904. But there is a third way we must all respond. It is the simple prayer, “O God, Japan!” One hundred-sixteen million people—who celebrate births and marriages with a Shinto priest (the unique Japanese religion of animism, praying to the spirits of the deceased) and who are buried by a Buddhist priest, but who are otherwise secular and without religion or faith—surely the Savior of this world longs to breakthrough to this people where only one half of 1% are Christians. “O God, Japan!” Won’t you join me in claiming this promise for the Land of the Rising Sun? “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings” (Malachi 4:2). Isn’t that incredible? Could it become a prophecy that one day the Land of the Rising Sun will truly become that—the land upon which the Sun of Righteousness will shine down his healing grace and saving power? “O God, Japan!” We must pray. And we must go.