This morning our sermon was based on the healing journey of Naaman in the Old Testament. The preacher emphasised that the journey seemed to be as important or even more important than the healing itself. He went on to talk about how this disaster and the subsequent journey of recovery has been changing Japan. Not just in the obvious ways, but changing the church and the volunteers who've worked towards restoration.
Here is a short video of a pastor in a church close to the nuclear power plant disaster zone. In my editor role, I've been working with him and his wife. She wrote an article about what was happening in their church for the special disaster edition that I put together last year in March/April. We're publishing a follow-up article in our upcoming edition (due out in April) about what has happened since then. It's been very exciting to hear their story. This video shows another dimension that I wasn't aware of. God has made them very bold! It is true, God is changing the church here.
Another example of the changes wrought by the disaster is that missions that have previously focused on ministry in Tokyo and other large cities, have begun moving personnel up into the disaster zone. Prior to this day last year it was one of the least reached areas in the whole of Japan, a country with less than 1% Christians, one of the least reached people groups on the whole planet. Soon after last March's disaster, many Christian groups were trying to work through the local churches, however there were almost no local churches to work through. A wake-up call. In the rush to do ministry in this area, I'm hoping, though, that the rest of this needy nation will not be forgotten.
It's been a long year, full of much "ordinary life" and much of the "extraordinary" too. It only takes a couple of short minutes looking at video clips of the devastating footage of the tsunami to remember that we've been here at a very memorable time in this nation's history. This afternoon I was drifting off into a Sunday afternoon nap when I heard a public announcement, that presumably went all over Japan. We were called at 2.46pm to remember the great earth movement than occurred exactly one year ago at that time. But we Christians can do more than "remember". We can lift Japan up to its Creator and plead for God to work in the hearts of this nation.