So, I'm sure you've heard about and seen reports of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck mainland Japan yesterday, and I want to let you know that we are fine. :) Okinawa is a separate island, and we are about 950 miles south of Tokyo. We also frequently feel small earthquakes, but we haven't had any recently, and we experienced no effects from the tsunami. Thank you so much for all your prayers and concern! Our God is amazing in how He provides us with family all around the world who love and care for us.
But it is so important to remain in prayer for our friends and church family in mainland Japan. We have heard from or spoken to many of our close friends in the Tokyo area, and they are all okay... some had to spend the night away from home, but things seem to be returning to normal today. However, we have a Nazarene church in Sendai, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami, and as far as we know, no one been able to contact our pastor there yet. Please remember Abe-sensei (Sendai Nazarene church pastor) and his family in your prayers. In this picture, he is standing next to Brian... this was taken a few months ago at a Nazarene Youth gathering on Okinawa.
I remember driving through Manila the day after the horrific flooding in September 2009, and what stands out in my memory is the hopelessness on people's faces. That's all I can think of as I watch the continuous news coverage of the incredible devastation in northern Japan right now. Less than 1 % of the Japanese population are believers, and suicide rates are very high all over the country. Please pray for our Christian brothers and sisters on the mainland as they help others through this tragedy and point them to hope and peace that is only found in Christ. Pray for the Japanese people, that they will turn to Jesus in the midst of this confusing and troubling time. While we were not directly affected on Okinawa, all our Japanese friends and acquaintances have relatives and friends on the mainland; pray for us that we can also point our friends to Christ as they are concerned about what is happening in their country.
As I was praying for all these things this morning, I was reminded of God's promises in the book of Isaiah. We are studying Isaiah right now in our ladies Bible Study at church, and one of the main themes that continues to stand out to me is the importance of trusting in God - there are numerous examples in Isaiah of when people trusted in other things: man's wisdom, strength of armies, etc. But over and over again, God was more powerful than everything and simply asked His people to trust in HIM. May these verses also bring you God's comfort today as we pray for our family in Japan.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. We will keep you updated as we continue to find out information. If you would like to donate to relief efforts, go here for more information.