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…
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.