The Common Denominator: Part I – We’re not in Kansas anymore
Deciding to go to Japan was an interesting journey to say the least. All I had to tangibly hold onto was God’s calling to just go. Contrary to protocol, Edward and I had absolutely nothing planned other than to get into this nation, and let God, be God. It may almost sound heroic, and logically be “the best place to be”. I myself would have probably said something so cliché’ to others in the same place. But let’s be real, you only realize it’s the best place once you’re on the other end looking back. Blending in through the busy streets of Tokyo for the first time in a foreign nation, in a city with 40 million that look like the quake never happened, quite honestly it makes you feel ….small, really small.
A few said we were crazy, in a good way. To others, they thought we were crazy in quite the opposite manner (and maybe even stupid). “Don’t be a Hero and hurry up and get out of there “ my father said sternly. I laughed because I knew he was getting the 411 from pop-media, and laughed even more because of his unique of way expressing love.
Regardless, the International media had obviously left a mark on the outside community regarding the “Nuclear Danger”. One ministry was even unwilling to back us up because of their strong opinion that it was dangerous to go. As we landed, this was apparently a trend as we heard that some missionary org’s went as far as to cut funding to stand firm on their decision to have their people get out. Some missionaries actually left the nation on their own, but needless to stay some stayed behind. Beyond the media and the obvious fear, to our surprise we arrived to a nation that had NO nuclear danger. One missionary said "I just turned off the t.v., because the fear mongering was distracting". Evidently the media rode the wave of uncertainty and "Nuclear disaster" to bring you the hottest news to get you to watch their channel. Problem is, the U.S. army and all their troops are all still in the nation, a new gauge for the missionaries. If there was REALLY a problem, the U.S. would pull our own people out for sure.
You might wonder why I’d even highlight this, because quite honestly, it makes us missionaries actually look bad (hah!). But, in a world where the unknown quickly creates assumptions in our minds, we desperately need to portray the raw reality of our playing field. Why? So we make haste when we’re supposed to, and not turn away and dangerously assume “the best”.If we lean not on the Spirit of God and rather gobble up only what we see on profit based “pop news” sources (i.e. CNN, MSNBC) you’re seeing through a lens darkly. For example, Haiti is barely on the news with the world last remembering that there’s been $8 billion tagged on the nation in donations. Ask any American and they’ll probably think Haiti is “being taken care of”. Sure, eventually, but not by looking at the streets right now.
In a place like Haiti where there is a plethora of need (even before the 7.1 earthquake), I think literally anyone can go and find something to do. You would have to purposely harden your heart and somehow choose to not see and do anything to help. But Japan? It’s on a whole different frequency. First off,they're a thriving first world nation. So naturally, within five days, 160,000 of their own were sent to the devastated areas. By week two, roads were already being rebuilt to ensure access to the damaged coastlines. Food and water? There’s too much. The standard of food in Japan is so much higher and healthier, that as I entered our contacts base, I saw army approved MRE’s just sitting there. In Haiti, we barely had enough to distribute to the tent cities. “The Japanese people would never eat that” chuckled one native volunteer. In most areas, they don’t need food, water, nor clothes. Local ministries in Tokyo have driven up 6 hours to Sendai, only to come back with food they brought.
So when I said I felt small, I really meant it. It almost felt like I had nothing to offer. Sure, I may sound a bit melodramatic, but my time in Haiti made my flesh feel a bit of a veteran entering the nation. Haiti trained my mind to normalize crazy & unexpected. I was ready for disaster relief, vivid desperation, even outbreaks of a foreign disease & death and whatever else Haiti threw my way. But as we landed in Tokyo … it was none of the above. An exponentially larger earthquake, billions more in damage than Haiti, but an eerie stirring made me realize, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
As I unload my heart, I had to first lay out the foundations before building any further. In the mean time, I’ll be leaving Seoul, Korea in about 6 hours to leave for Maui to lead worship at the Maui base. I’ve been here for the past week meeting family after 11 years. Definitely rocked my world discovering not only do I have a new nephew, but he was named after me!
Please pray for travel mercies and grace for 19 hours of travel.
Part II coming soon….
Love you all more than you know,