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Japan: Christians reach out to a shaken nation
On March 11 the nation of Japan was shaken by a heavy 8.9 magnitude earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami that left tens of thousands of people dead, missing and unaccounted for.
At the moment of writing a serious nuclear disaster is on the horizon as a result of overheating and explosions at the nation's Fukushima power plant. A radio-active cloud is threatening the capital Tokyo, with 13 million inhabitants one of the most densely populated city regions in Asia. As Japan is the world's third largest economy, there are also large economic effects as stock markets are tumbling.
According to a report posted at Crosswalk.com, Christian organizations based in Japan are using social networking sites to coordinate relief efforts. Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope (CRASH Japan) is working closely with JEMA (the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association), to coordinate a large network of experienced volunteers who live in Japan and are familiar with the nation's culture and language. Leaders set up a command center in Tokyo with bases in affected areas. Christian aid teams will work through local churches who know the community's needs.
More than 300 churches exist in the area affected by the tsunami. The status of most of them is unknown. Asian Access, a Missions organization that works with over 1,800 churches throughout Japan, has been trying to contact their partners, but communication has been difficult. For more information about the Tsunami relief fund and a message from the President of Asian Access, Joe Handley http://asianaccess.org/A2-Japan-Tsunami-Relief-Fund.html
Peter Howard with Food for the Hungry says: "For a modern country, the scale of this disaster is unparalleled. Many churches in Japan are opening their doors to receive the survivors. "We believe that the church is God's vehicle for spreading the Gospel of love and compassion and the message of peace," says Howard. "We're really hopeful that the Japanese church supported by churches all around the world will rise up and truly show what Christians are all about."
"The Fukushima and Tohoku Bible chapels are in some of the hardest hit areas," says Stephen Van Valkenburg, a director of Christian Aid. "They have already been evacuated because they are all situated close to the endangered nuclear power plants. There is a lot of panic and help is being distributed to refugees in emergency shelters. These missionaries have some of the most effective outreaches in Japan, so we know that they are sharing the love of God in both word and deed during this tragic time."
Japan is one the wealthiest 'unreached nations' in the world. Its population exceeds 127 million, yet less than one percent of those consider themselves Christians. Society is highly materialistic. Those who do claim a religious preference typically blend elements of Shinto and Buddhism. The regions hit hardest by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan's northern Pacific coast is considered 'hard ground' by missionaries. Disasters always bring up existential questions. This certainly is a time for Christians in Japan and around the world to show God's love to the Japanese people in their time of need.
· Pray for all those in Japan to have presence of mind, and for those who are believers to rise to the occasion with the power of the Holy Spirit to meet the needs as He directs them.
· Pray for the Church to unite to reach out to help in the aftermath. Pray for wise response, order and resources applied appropriately.
· Pray for the global Church to wake up to the need to be prepared in order to be His hands and feet in these situations as they begin to unfold so quickly around the world.
· Pray for God's mercy, that there will be more than enough messengers of the gospel in every place to share the good news of His mercy and grace to those who do not yet know Him.
Used with permission from Joel News International, a weekly e-zine on the advance of God's Kingdom globally. Check it out at www.joelnews.org and sign up for yourself!
LIBYA on the brink of war
Government forces are continuing to fight the rebels who took control of several cities after protests and violence broke out last month. While Western nations are working to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, leader Muammar al-Qadhafi appears to be preparing to lay siege to the rebel held city of Benghazi, as well as other towns along the coast.
· The salvation of Muammar al-Qadhafi. Pray for this leader to stop ordering deadly attacks on his own people. (I Timothy 2:1-3)
· Political freedom for Libyans and for the Gospel to reach them. Pray for them to be liberated from the oppression of the current regime and from the oppression of Islam. (Isaiah 42:6,7)
· The Gospel to be made known in this Muslim nation. Ask the Lord to draw the people of Libya out of the dominion of darkness and into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:13)
· A great harvest of souls during this time of instability. (John 4:35)
Courtesy of Window International Network
Mission News Network – 21 March 2011
Christians are now a major target in violence which is teetering Ivory Coast on the edge of civil war.
When the post-election violence began in November, believers were almost immediately at risk. Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down from his post as president when candidate Alassane Ouattara was voted in as president, despite international recognition of Ouattara as the country's new president.
Now Christians are in danger!
"In the city of Abidjan, there's a call by Islamic clerics against the Christians," confirms Carl Moeller with Open Doors, USA. "The fact of the matter is, in this part of the world, politics and religion are very difficult to separate."
Where does religion fit in? Gbagbo calls himself a Christian, and Ouattara calls himself a Muslim. Many Muslims associate believers with Gbagbo whether they actually support him or not.
Christians' prayers for peace in Ivory Coast are seen as further evidence of Gbagbo loyalty.
As a result, Christians have been targeted directly. "Our coworkers on the ground say that several churches have been already burned, and many Christians have been beaten up. And there are actually--although we don't have firm numbers on this according to our coworker there--Christians who've been killed in these attacks," says Moeller.
The U.N. reports that over 430 people have died as a direct result of the hostilities.
Thousands of believers have been made homeless, and due to the lack of hospitals, many of them are dying as well. 40,000 people are gathered at churches in and around Abidjan. Christians undoubtedly make up some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees since violence began.
· Pray for strength for our brothers and sisters in Ivory Coast right now.
· Pray for the safety of Open Doors workers as well, and that ministry would continue.
· Pray that believers would still manage to be a light for Christ in the middle of misunderstandings and malevolence.
Open Doors works to build the church in Ivory Coast.