March 2011 – In the midst of the destruction of the 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, reporters asked Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, “How should the Japanese people view the quake?”
Ishihara, who is Buddhist and Shinto, shocked many people when he replied, “The identity of the Japanese people is greed. This tsunami represents a good opportunity to cleanse this greed…indeed, I think this [tsunami] is divine punishment.”
While Ishihara was expressing the Buddhist view of karma (bad things happen to people who led bad past lives), could what he was saying be true? Is God punishing the Japanese people for their sin?
Maybe. Or maybe the disasters are simply the result of the brokenness of creation – broken by humanity’s sin. But either way, God can use this tragedy to bring the real message the Japanese (and all people) need to hear.
“Though we are sinners who live in a broken world, forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ is available to everyone,” said Rev. James Fandrey, former LHF executive director. “That is the only message that can bring peace and healing to these hurting souls.”
FLASHBACKS TO 2004
For Rev. Ted NaThalang, LHF coordinator of translation projects for Southeast Asia, Japan’s tsunami has brought back many memories of the 2004 tsunami that hit Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India and other parts of Southeast Asia.
In the wake of that tsunami’s destruction, Rev. NaThalang spent time in Thailand, sharing the Gospel with the people and praying with them.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
In the face of such devastation and death, many survivors are left wondering, “Why did this happen?”
In Rev. NaThalang’s experience, this time of questioning is an open door to talking about who God is. He’s found Luther’s Small Catechism to be especially helpful in breaking the Christian faith down into smaller, more understandable bits.
LHF translators are in the process of translating the Japanese catechism, which has been out of print in Japan for many years. The recent tragedy makes the need to complete the task even more urgent.
“The tsunami and the earthquake are bad,” said Rev. NaThalang, “but God is giving us the opportunity to show His love and forgiveness to these people who are hurting.”
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.