God sets the limits

A blog post has been overdue, particularly with recent events in Japan, which you’ve no doubt seen a lot of on the news.

In brief, we’re fine, but many are not. We live in Sapporo, which is about 300 miles north of Sendai (the worst hit by the tsunami). On Friday we felt the earthquake – it was the largest in living memory for Sapporo – but there was no damage, for which we’re very grateful.

None of the OMFers in Japan were harmed by the quake and tsunami although those in Sendai received some damage to their property. But, as I’m sure you’re well aware, many have lost their homes, and food and other supplies are needed. So OMF is joining a coordinated relief effort called Christian Relief Assistance Support and Hope. (If you want to donate, go to the OMF website .)

The concern now is for the nuclear power plants in Fukushima, south of Sendai. People fear that radiation levels will continue to rise, or that a Chernobyl type disaster might happen or a Hiroshima type explosion could happen. People have been evacuated from the 20-30km radius of the plants and so far radiation levels have not reached dangerous levels outside of that area.

map of Sendai to Sapporo

There have been planned blackouts in places like Tokyo to compensate for the reduced supply of power.

In all of this, many are fearful. There has been panic buying even as far away as Tokyo (c.200 miles from Sendai). Even here in Sapporo friends and teachers are understandably concerned for family nearer to the disaster areas. With mobile phone networks jamming and occasional lack of power, it has difficult for some of them to get in contact. (My parents in Ichikawa, just outside Tokyo, are well.) Some of our non-Christian friends/teachers have begun to ask questions about God.

Having been in Japan for 1 year now, we’ve reflected on the 4 beautiful seasons that we’ve enjoyed here. In Daniel 2:20-21 has been particularly on our minds:

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.

God is the One who has been controlling the seasons we’ve been through in Sapporo. He is also in control of the changing ‘seasons’ of our lives. For us at the moment we’re in a season of language study. He’s also ruling over the political and spiritual season of Japan. He’s also sovereign over the elements:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? …

Who shut up the sea behind doors …
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?   (Job 38:4a, 8-11)

These events are not the end, but they are the beginning of the end:

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. (Mark 13:7-8)

Anna was reflecting recently on how many times, especially in the Old Testament, people experienced awful things and yet still did not turn to God.

Pray that people in Japan would turn to God.

Please pray for wisdom (and enough language!) for us to be able to answer people’s questions well.

Pray for those suffering, that aid will reach them; and for those on rescue teams for safety.

Pray that the Church in Japan would shine like stars in the darkness – in the way they love one another, in the way they serve and help those in need. May Jesus become famous in Japan through their witness.

Pray that God will soon bring us into a season of harvest in Japan, that many would praise His name, even through this disaster.

For some helpful points on how to pray in a disaster, have a look here; and for an exemplary prayer by John Piper for Japan, look here.