“You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times…” – Psalm 60:2-3
When I look at the pictures of the devastation in Japan, I am reminded of a speaker I heard last year at a missions conference. He pointed out that many of the world’s recent natural disasters have occurred in areas which are unreached or resistant to the Gospel. He was not saying that God was judging those areas, but rather that a disaster disrupts the status quo and creates an opportunity for the Gospel to penetrate hearts. For example, there are now many churches in Sumatra which did not exist before the 2004 tsunami. That is because Christ-followers brought aid and the Good News in the aftermath, and the people were more open.
Japan has been a spiritually resistant country for hundreds of years. Churches there are small and struggling. Might this disaster create a fresh opportunity for the Gospel?
It can, if we “run to the pain”, as the speaker challenged us to do. Wherever we see pain and trauma in the world, we don’t need to waste time asking why, we simply run to that pain and be the love of Jesus there. It is quite possible God will use that moment to change the eternal trajectory of a people.