FIRST-PERSON: Begin helping by praying
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article was written by Carlton Walker, an International Mission Board missionary to Japan for nearly 30 years.
TOKYO (BP)--It is hard to believe that more than 48 hours have now passed since Japan's earthquake. In some ways it seemed like the longest couple of days in our lives.
The government has upgraded the earthquake from 8.9 to 9.0. Thousands are still trying to contact family, friends and loved ones caught in the sweep of the tsunami wave. They say that the "not knowing" is the hardest.
We hear that there will be rolling blackouts several hours at a time here in Tokyo to conserve power nationwide. Given that bottled water, toilet paper and batteries are scarce to nonexistent in most places here, one can only imagine what things are like in the harder-hit areas in the northeast.
Many gasoline stations are closed. If you are fortunate enough to get gas, it is a limited amount, with lines stretching for blocks.
Watching news reports on television is overwhelming. It is not just one event … one place … one story. It is a vast collage of human suffering. Yet, even the pain you see on television is understated because the Japanese are stoic in nature.
We know many things that we didn't know last night:
-- This is the biggest quake in all of Japan's recorded history.
-- Geophysicists have reported that the force of the quake was so strong that it moved the island of Honshu 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) to the east.
-- There have been 164 aftershocks at the time of this writing. Many are having a hard time distinguishing between actual aftershocks and feeling like things are moving when they really aren't.
Japan's self-defense forces have been among the first on the scene. The problem is that there are so many scenes! A nationwide call to medical personnel, rescue workers, policemen and truck drivers to converge on the most affected areas has been issued. Rescue teams worldwide are either on the way or poised to come.
One colleague's comment sums up how most of us living in Japan feel: "My heart is racing with emotions and thoughts that come. I want to fly to the hard-hit areas and minister. I just want to be their hands and feet for whatever they need right now."
She concluded with the wisest advice of all: "What do you do in times like these but pray and ask for His guidance?"
All of us around the world can be there in prayer. Although it doesn't make sense in human terms, perhaps the way that most of us can make the most significant contribution for the time being is to pray because the lives of others both physically and spiritually depend on it.
Join my colleagues and I in praying for Japan:
-- for the survivors and families of victims; for the opportunities we have to minister in the name of Jesus and for God to use this awesome disaster to soften the spiritually hard ground of Japan and open multitudes of hearts to him.
-- for Christian workers and local Christians as they meet to come up with plans on how best to plan and implement relief efforts. Pray that they will know how best to serve the Japanese during this time of crisis, that these relief efforts will minister to the hearts of those in need.
-- that those who hurt will receive aid and comfort. Pray that all will recognize there is only one Rock who will never be shaken.