Can Good Come From a Devastating Tsunami?
In 2011 Japan suffered a devastating tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9 “megathrust” earthquake. It occurred off the coast near Tohoku. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes logged since they started recording them. Shifting the earth on its axis, thousands died. Entire neighborhoods were no longer safe to live in because of radiation.
Within five to seven minutes, many coastal cities in the Tohoku region suffered severe damage. Whole villages along the coast were destroyed.
For generations, the people of Japan had been proud of their cultural heritage. They could not believe such a thing could happen to them.
God’s People Respond
YWAM teams along with many other Christians arrived quickly to help. Volunteers came from far away nations. In fact so many came to help that it was almost overwhelming!
British YWAMers John and Gary had lived in Japan for several years. Together with their families, they led a series of relief outreaches to Tohoku. John says, “The volunteers did such a great job, and were certainly a blessing. But of course, in time the volunteers went home. That was when it fell to the local church to keep the work going.”
It was a tough season. “So many, including those church members, had suffered
Japan: the Ultimate “Hard Ground”
Although there were witnesses of Jesus in Japan for many decades, progress was very slow. It was not easy to sustain the work of YWAM either. Faithful workers believed God for more to come.
As a young person growing up in America, I observed that many of my close Christian friends came from Japanese families. We became close because our values and lifestyles were similar.
Visiting Japan, I realized how few Christians there were in that nation. The people were kind and considerate. But where the gospel was concerned, Japan was certainly hard ground.
A Very Different Climate Today
Seven years after the tsunami, I had the chance to get myself up to speed. I contacted John and asked questions. “Why is it that Japanese within the country of Japan are closed to the gospel? So many of those in my home country are already third generation believers.”
I was very behind in the news. God was at work among the Japanese people!
“Recently a new YWAM team has been strengthening the ministry in Tohoku,” said John. “All six prefectures [districts] have been visited. After all the time that has passed, not everyone has been able to move back to their homes. But as they return, some of our staff members are moving there as well. Not only is the work in Tohoku growing, but there is hope for new pioneering works in Hokkaido and Kyushu. . . and more new locations are planned after that!”
“Hang on…” I replied, quite amazed. “Isn’t Japan famous for being resistant to the g
God is Doing a New Thing
“Many Japanese people are getting saved every week!” he explained. “YWAM teams meet in small groups with these new believers. That way everyone can learn, understand, and share what they have learned with others.”
A Seeker Arrives
One day, as the YWAM team ate together, a Japanese man came to their home looking for the Christians. He had walked for weeks, got on a train, and knocked on doors in side alleys until at last he found them.
John said, “Before, if someone showed an interest in the Lord, we expected to share with him or her for about three years. It took at least that long until they understood and could make a decision to follow Jesus. Now people come into the Kingdom every week!”
Indeed, the harvest is ripe in Japan. Pray for even more fruit among this remarkable unreached people. Ask the Lord of the harvest to help them raise disciples who will raise more disciples. Let’s intercede for a Disciple-Making Movement to take place. The Word of God must spread until every man, woman, and child in Japan has a chance to hear the good news.
Japan has an ancient and fascinating civilization. Yet out of disaster, the spiritual atmosphere has changed! To God be the glory!