Pray for the Japanese

21 03 2011

As we watch the devastation of Japan and the pain this country is experiencing, I am taken back to my days living there. For almost ten years, Liz and I lived in Tokyo and Okinawa. We worked on college campuses with Japanese students; daily we rode the crowded train for two hours standing nose to nose with Japanese businessmen. Liz rode her bike to and from the market and took our two children to the park. She talked, walked and played with other Japanese mothers and their children. We ate at the same restaurants and went through several earthquakes with all our neighbors. We loved Japan because we loved the Japanese people.

As I mentioned in my last blog, the Japanese people are going through what Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, has said is the “worst disaster to hit Japan since World War II.” It is a nightmare for this country. With some estimates as high as ten thousand dead, the familial reverberations and concern are hard to imagine.  Our TVs show the rubble of whole neighborhoods and, in one case, the annihilation of an entire northeastern town by the tsunami. We are now glued to news of what is happening with the three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, located 150 miles from Tokyo.

But what is amazing to the world is the calm of Japan under such disaster. I’m not surprised. The Japanese are a people of inner peace. They are a people who love nature—if you don’t believe that, look at the beauty of their flower arranging and bonsai trees. They are a lovely people who feel nature and feel their environment. Over the centuries of crowded cities and limited space, they have grown to appreciate simplicity. They, more than most, seem to grasp the boundaries and capacity of nature. We could learn something from the Japanese.

It seems remarkable to us in America that there is no looting or pillaging by the people of Japan. CNN and Fox News keep repeating with incredulous reports that no one is stealing anyone’s stuff. Amazing.  Such reporting says more about us than the Japanese. I’m not surprised. I have learned over the years that the Japanese have a profound respect for each person. All the centuries of isolation as an island people have produced a community of respect. Whenever you speak to Japanese about their nation, they always begin the conversation with “We Japanese…” They respect each other and they respect their community.  We could learn something here.

It seems incredible to us in America that the people of Japan show so little emotion. As we watch the coverage of the evacuation centers, we watch everyone calmly taking care of their loved ones and quietly helping each other. In some cases, whole families have perished and yet there is so little emotion. The Japanese have common phrases that describe their demeanor. The terms are honne and tatamae which describe heart and face. We are seeing the face of Japan on TV, but not the heart. 

Their face is calm, but their hearts are breaking. We shouldn’t be surprised. Today the Japanese are hurting. They will not show it externally, but internally they are agonizing. They seem peaceful and calm, but they are full of fear and dread. They need our prayers and our help. Cry out for Japan. Call out to the Lord to use this situation to bring greater glory to Himself among this people. Pray for a mighty revival. God is sovereign and He wants to use this to shake the honne of all Japanese, so that someday, they come to Him.


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4 responses

21 03 2011
Jan Inman

Glenn Beck highlighted the amazing strength and peace of the Japanese people on Friday. You are right when you say we can learn alot from these people. They are acting more like a “Chrisitan nation” than we do..ie riots in Wisconsin etc. Hopefully we in America can be inspired to be better people because of their examples. Even though they display “christian” behavior we know they need to know Jesus for true strength and inner peace. We are praying…..

21 03 2011
Jeff Henry

Hey Steve,

Well said, brother. Your love and intimate knowledge of the Japanese people and their culture comes through so clearly in your words.

My heart breaks and I weep for the people of Japan and for a situation that seems to get worse with each passing day. I pray that the people working feverishly to get ahead of the dominoes that are falling receive God’s guidance, grace and protection. And, I pray that God somehow uses this disaster in supernatural ways to bring to the people of Japan a spiritual awakening and revolution of Jesus’ love unknown in that land.

I read that the power of the earthquake shifted the entire island of Japan EIGHT FEET. May the power of God shift their souls infinitely further than that toward eternal salvation.

God Bless you, bro.

Jeff

23 03 2011
Dorinda Jacksch

I just returned from a Russian and Baltic Countries business tour. I had closed out all electronic communication during my overseas stay. Upon my return yesterday, I heard of the devastation to the island and the people of Japan. They are an incredible people. They are designed by God to be cared for and loved during this crisis. Each culture has a different way of reacting physically, emotionally and spiritually to the stressors in their lives. The Japanese are reacting in a manner that is comfortable for them. I pray that our assistance and prayers are given with love, grace and in a manner inwhich the people of Japan will truly see a union of Christ’s children aiding and assisting in a Christlike manner.
Steve, I hope that your words and prayers are felt intimately by those whom you and your family have grown to care for in Japan.

21 04 2011
Junko_ito29@hotmail.com

Thank you Steve!

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