19 March, 2013

What if the big earthquake comes to our backyard?

With the two year anniversary of the disaster up north just past, there has been plenty of talk, and thought about what will happen when (and that is the word used in this discussion) a big earthquake hits Tokyo. It's big in the news and has been on the minds of Japanese for maybe decades now. 

We have one of the biggest cities in the world located on one of the hottest seismic points in the globe. This news article from early last year is titled "Study: 70% chance big quake will hit Tokyo within 4 years." And there have been many other such articles.

There is an interesting post over here called "Emergency Departure". It is talking specifically about missionaries in politically unstable countries and thoughts making emergency evacuation plans. I commented there from the perspective of Japan where the politics are stable, yet the chances of natural disasters that may mean evacuation is necessary, are a fact of life. The post asks big questions like, “Are we supposed to be (or called to be) safe?”

It is a complicated, emotional issue. One that isn't too far below any missionary's conscious thoughts. But one that isn't much talked about because there are varying opinions, and because it is hotly emotional.

There are practical things to do and various levels for example individuals having emergency supplies and organisations having policies in place for emergency situations.

There are mental things to do, like consider the above question: "Am I called to be safe?" or "How strong is my commitment to this country?"

Some things are hard to consider prior to such an event and would need to be decided at the time. Especially with external factors playing a big part. That was the case with the disaster two years ago: we couldn't predict that there would be radiation concerns. We didn't know before the event that the school would be closed or that for some people the stress of the situation was so bad that they were unable to function. We didn't realise that there'd be a rush on toilet paper, here, hundreds of kilometres from the disaster. (We will next time, though!)

There are lots of things we don't know, yet I like how one missionary phrased it.
"Yes, this is a potentially dangerous place to work. Pray, though, that if there is a big earthquake here, that we would be safe so that we can be a light in the aftermath." (My paraphrase.)

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