There are certain reactions to a foreign disaster that you could set your watch by. Or at least your calender. As we’ve seen, some of the first to react are those who think the disaster confirms their apocalyptic theories. To the list you can also add Chuck Pierce and Glenn Beck.

Fortunately this is followed by a rush of support from charities, both religious and secular, private and public. There has been an outpouring of aid, even though Japan is seen as a wealthy country. (of course, we’re a wealthy country and look how we did after Katrina.)

But along with that charity comes those who see the disaster as an opportunity…

An opportunity to convey the vision of Christ’s love

A longtime missionary in Japan describes that country as “rich, but poor” — rich economically, but poor spiritually — and now deeply in need of prayer and aid.


Dan Iverson is a church planting pastor and mission team leader in the Tokyo/Chiba area. He and his wife Carol have served in Japan since 1986 with Mission to the World, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America. Iverson says about 70 percent of Japanese profess no religious affiliation.

“Japan is so poor spiritually,” he laments. “There’s suicides everyday, there’s so many problems in this rich country that has no clue about the gospel — and we just pray that God will have mercy on Japan in [the wake of] this terrible earthquake.”

Only one percent of the Asian nation professes the Christian faith, but through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter they have pulled together to establish relief centers in the hardest hit areas of Japan. That country, says Iverson, is the wealthiest unreached nation in the world.

You’ll notice how the whole thing is billed as an “opportunity,” and how “spiritually poor” is equated with not being Christian. Iverson may be right about the stats for religious affiliation, but that misses the point. Citizens of Japan may not affiliate with one single religion, but most do practice the two traditional religions – Buddhism and Shinto – to a least a minor degree, out of tradition if not belief.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain about people who are actually sending support, whatever their motivation. I just wish they could find some justification in Christianity other than the Great Commission.

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  • Elemenope


    “Keep your Jesus. Send FOOD!”

    • LMA

      But as Bill Maher said “Jesus always goes down better with a sandwich”

  • trj

    “Japan is so poor spiritually,” he laments. “There’s suicides everyday…”

    I never trust missionaries with statistics, so I looked it up. Indeed, the suicide rate in Japan is double that of USA’s. However, the homicide rate is nine times larger in the very Christian nation of USA.

    It’s easy to find statistics that back up your religious views when you simply invent your own correlations.

  • LRA

    Two words: cultural imperialism

  • claidheamh mor

    “Japan is so poor spiritually”

    I am repulsed at his insult of thousands of Buddhist (believing/practicing or nominal only, or not) people in Japan.

  • claidheamh mor

    I went to the link in this article. (My computer… it feels so… so dirty!) There were not contact or comment fields to send him this link. I went to the two links in that article. Same problem. (Although it did have links for “go” on a mission trip and “give”.)

    I’m frustrated, not being able to send him a link to a few thoughts he could stand to hear.

    • Ben

      I’ve been wanting also to send him a clear (but respectful) message, but can’t find any address on their website. This type of thinking needs to be objected to.

      Please let me know if you find an email.

  • Alexis

    The “vision of christ’s love” is shown through thousands of lost lives, tens of thousands of serious injuries, billions in property damage? I shudder to think what would happen if he did not love them.

  • Agentsmith

    If God really wants the people of Japan to believe in him after these disasters, then he could just simply snap his almighty fingers and restore everything to their original place, then there won’t be a single person who would not worship him the way he wanted from the beginning of time. Why go through all the trouble to make the disasters happen, kill a bunch of people and their families just to show that He loves them?

    That’s what I would do if I had a fraction of the awesome power and compassion and love God is said to have. But of course, I’m not God, All I can do is to donate some money to the Red Cross and hope for the best. Oh well.

    • Jabster

      To show how much I loved my wife I followed god’s lead and butchered her parents and a couple of friends … I’m single now.

  • Chris W

    Actually, they could find plenty in the gospels other than the Great Tradition to justify charity–the story of the Good Samaritan comes to mind. But stuff like that is too close to “works righteousness,” so most evangelicals won’t touch it.

    • Chris W

      oops, that should be “Great Commission,” not “Great Tradition”

  • Revyloution

    That’s one of the big differences between the Japanese and the Americans. Once an American gives up their faith, they typically become aggressively anti-religious, or at the minimum they just reject all of the traditions their faith had. Contrast that to the Japanese, who for the most part don’t believe in any of their religious dogma, yet they participate regularly in their ceremonies.

    I wonder what the difference is between the cultures, and the religions, that causes this dramatic difference.

    • Elemenope

      Evangelism. It seems to me to be the meme that contributes most to the differences in behavior between religions. The major evangelical religions (Christianity, Islam) seem to behave apart from the pack, especially in their orientation towards the non-religious and members of other faiths.

      • zach

        @elemenope i wish i had a like button to click on for your comment. it’s so ridiculously true.

        • Elemenope


    • kholdom0790

      From what I have observed, being outwardly, overly religious in Japan is frowned upon. Well, being outwardly overly pretty much anything is. Certain events like the Tokyo sarin gas attack have made them wary of evangelism and they don’t really acknowledge or engage it (generally). Totally unsurprising that this asshole ministry is achieving shit all over there IMO.

  • Charlie Sitzes

    “we just pray that God will have mercy on Japan in [the wake of] this terrible earthquake.”

    Idiots! According to their delusional thinking it was god that created the earthquake in the first place. So NOW you pray to god he will have mercy.

  • P_Cygni

    Also in this ‘spiritually poor’ country there has been no looting, robberies or even queue-jumping in shops. My friend was on holiday in Japan when the earthquake struck. He said it was incredible how friendly and nice everyone was to each other. He had to spend the night in an emergency shelter and was given blankets and water and food, and he said everyone was so supportive and friendly! There was no hoarding of supplies by individuals, or people shoving to the front of the queue – something I don’t think would ever happen in the UK or USA, supposedly ‘spiritually rich’ countries.

    • Cang

      I don’t see why they DON’T loot. If you need stuff to survive then you need to take it.

      • Mahou

        Because, unlike America, the Japanese government provides them with what they need to survive instead of just leaving them to fend for themselves.

        • Elemenope

          Yeah, it turns out the that no looting thing is a canard. Just poorly reported by Western media.

  • Tee

    People are cracking here as last night there was a 5.2 quake as the power was out and I saw a man run outside naked and shout nonsense. Got blankets today and some food arrived. Store are pretty much empty. got hot water back at my place today. Just tired as I have not slept well in 7 days due to the shaking at night. Hungry too as the food is barely enough for me. From the start it has been a nightmare for me.

    Overall people have been polite but nervous and concerned about the plant. What upsets me is when things get better here the radical religious types will thank god and not the spirit of the people here. :( I try not to go online and read about the hate from such people like this.

    Just frustrated right now and still worried about friends families who lived in the Sendai region.

    Oh and the reason suicides are high here? Because people keep their emotions to themselves and bullying is a reason for suicides. That and suicide is not seen as bad here overall and has the stigma the West has.

    I need rest, thanks for letting me vent.

    • LRA

      I’m so sorry! Hang in there! You have a community of listeners here… please vent all you like!


    • Skippy

      *hugs* I cannot imagine what you all are going through.

    • AVlCENNA

      These people are absolute monsters, I have had to deal with them. Bibles rather than rice indeed. It’s called Rice Conversion (*spits*) and my culture (my grandmother is from Burma near Kohima. After WW2 american baptist missions did a number on the local culture causing it’s loss. Now it’s filled with complete lunatics armed with knives who force people to accept jesus or face death. Most pick Jesus. Look up the Tripura Baptist Church to see one of the worst examples of this.)

      • Brian M

        That Tripura Baptist stuff is pretty wild. Sad history.

    • Len

      We’re thinking of you all – wish we could help.

      If you know of other people who want to talk, tell them they are welcome here.

  • JK

    and now deeply in need of prayer and aid.

    Well put, really well put. He noticed himself prayer doesn’t work so those pour ppl need aid ^^ (making fun of the religious nut and not the ones in need of help of course).

  • Cang

    The title isn’t fair. These people are deluded and cannot see the logical inconsistency of their beliefs, but they’re doing and saying what they think is right. They’re not vultures.

    • Olaf

      No they are vultures, and I bet that they pray every day that something bad happens to none-believers.

      • Len

        They pray and they prey.

  • Crystal

    I’m a little sad to see so many people attacking this group as though they are evil. I disagree, and I’m assuming they are not withholding any aid to non-Christians, so why does it matter if they also feel the need to pray? They could just be praying that they get the aid they need to pass out, or that they have the strength to help as much as possible, or that God will help everyone cope with this horrible tragedy.
    Also, as a Christian, I believe that God did not cause this horrible destruction, but he can offer hope in the aftermath.
    Also, the Greatest Commandment is a pretty good reason to help. Love God. Love others. That’s all. They’re just loving the people in Japan.

    • Elemenope

      Perhaps not evil, but condescending and predatory; good intentions mean fairly little if they are accompanied by actual harm. It is possible, even easy, to “show God’s love” by sending blankets and food and other aid. The other stuff is what makes it fairly objectionable; I doubt that the Japanese would particularly appreciate a bunch of missionaries piggy-backing on a terrible national disaster to bring them Jesus. Especially considering the long and torturous history of Christian missionary efforts in Japan, this seems especially tone-deaf, self-centered, and callous.

    • Skippy

      Loving, my ass. This putrefaction is nothing more than sanctimonious glee at disaster and, as El pointed out, piggybacking proselytization onto a humanitarian crisis. It is indeed self-centered, callous, and may I add, absolutely rife with cultural imperialism. To characterize the Japanese as “spiritually poor” is about as blinkered and ignorant a statement as one can make. Frankly, they can take their Christian “love” and shove it.

    • claidheamh mor

      Loving, my ass!

  • Cang

    The mood in here seems remarkably less atheist and more anti-Christianity. I don’t see why anyone here should flinch at the Japanese being called spiritually poor by some evangelist. I’m “spiritually poor” and proud of it.

    • Yoav

      Your concern have been noted.

      • Skippy

        …and promptly ignored.