By now most of the world will be well aware of the disaster that struck Japan on Friday the 11th March 2011. A 9.0 earthquake followed by a 10m tsunami left a swathe of destruction in its path. Tens of thousands missing or killed, and hundreds of thousands without homes to return to.
And yet, what is our response to this disaster? Whilst millions of people around the world are seeking to send material and financial aid to the people of quake stricken north east Japan, what is our role to play as God’s church?
Or more importantly, what is God seeking to do through this disaster and how can you help? How can we pray? Whilst many of the headlines in newspapers the world over are focused on the issue of the Fukushima Nuclear plant, the death toll rises daily. At time of writing the number of dead has surpassed nine thousand, and those missing, over twelve thousand. Not killed as a result of radiation, but by the incredibly destructive force of earthquake and tsunami.
Not to mention the consequences afterwards. For the majority of people in the troubled areas, life is not easy. Over 300,000 are staying in shelters, and many, whilst they may still have homes, are finding themselves lacking in the basic necessities of life. Food, water, electricity, petrol: even clothes and blankets are scarce. For many this means not only having to brave hunger, but whilst the snow continues to fall and the temperatures in places such as Iwate prefecture are down to -2 degrees Celsius, lack of basic heating also becomes a problem.
So what can we do? There are many churches, missions and agencies that are working to help provide relief to the area. For many this means sending finances, food, blankets and other things to the needy areas. For others, it can be help of a more practical nature - going as a pair of hands and feet to help where needed. Please pray for those who are involved in the cleanup operation. It will not be a quick fix, but will likely take years.
Many of the churches in Japan are work- ing through the Japan Evangelic Alliance [JEA] to help focus and resource churches to help in the area. Other organisations such as CRASH Japan, a mission specialising in Crisis relief and aid work, Food for the Hungry International and other groups are also working to provide assistance in this time through assisting local churches to reach out and help their communities.
Of course, the greatest way we can help in these times is through sharing the gospel - the message of hope to the world in this time. So please pray that whilst people's physical needs are being met, that their spiritual needs will also be met. That the love of God will shine brightly through his church in this time and that people will meet with the living saviour, Jesus Christ.
So pray for the physical needs of Japan, pray for those involved with the relief work, and living in affected areas, but pray too, for the gospel to impact people for eternity.